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  [Discuss] CNSA's Tianwen-1 Mars mission

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Author Topic:   [Discuss] CNSA's Tianwen-1 Mars mission
Robert Pearlman
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posted 10-01-2020 01:59 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Please use this topic to discuss China's Tianwen-1 mission to orbit and land a rover on Mars.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 10-01-2020 01:59 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
From SpaceNews contributor Andrew Jones (via Twitter):
Here's an image of Tianwen-1 in deep space and on its way to Mars, released today [CLEP]. The spacecraft is currently 24.1 million km from the Earth with a total flight distance of 188 million km. (source)

This was a one-shot deal, with a small instrument carrying two wide-angle lenses released from Tianwen-1. After release it took one image every second, transmitted to TW-1 via wifi. Farewell, expensive deep space camera.

Some stills to give a better idea of the jettisoned camera:

Robert Pearlman
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posted 02-10-2021 07:56 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The Tianwen-1 probe successfully entered orbit around Mars on Wednesday (Feb. 10), reports the Xinhua state news agency.
A 3000N engine was ignited at 7:52 p.m. (Beijing time) to decelerate Tianwen-1, according to the China National Space Administration (CNSA).

After about 15 minutes, the spacecraft, including an orbiter, a lander and a rover, had slowed enough to be captured by Mars' gravity and entered an elliptical orbit around the red planet, with its closest distance from the Martian surface at about 400 km. It will take Tianwen-1 about 10 Earth days to complete one circle.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 02-12-2021 10:06 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
CNSA/PEC video via Andrew Jones on Twitter:
So, here's quite a amazing video of Tianwen-1 passing Mars as it enters orbit.

The above is from a solar array surveillance cam. Amazingly the atmosphere appears discernible as do surface features. Here's more footage, from an antenna surveillance cam.

SkyMan1958
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posted 02-25-2021 02:17 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for SkyMan1958   Click Here to Email SkyMan1958     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
According to TMRO the Chinese space agency isn't releasing orbital changes, parameters etc. The current orbit has been figured out by high end "ham" radio operators. Shades of the secrecy of the USSR lunar probes being pierced by Jodrell Bank. See about 12:30 minutes in to this video.

My best guess is that these ham radio operators forced the Chinese space agency hand to release orbital parameters.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-02-2021 06:15 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Three possible names for China's first Mars rover have come out after a 40-day global online poll.
"Zhurong," a fire god in ancient Chinese mythology, tops the list while "Nezha," a beloved Chinese mythological figure, and "Hongyi," which means having a broad and strong mind in Chinese, ranked second and third, respectively.

The China National Space Administration in January unveiled a list of 10 selections for the name after a global naming campaign that kicked off in late July 2020. Netizens at home and abroad were invited to vote on 10 candidates from Jan. 20 to Feb. 28.

Starting Tuesday [March 2], a panel of experts will also vote for the final candidates. The administration will decide the top three names based on public voting and expert opinions.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-04-2021 05:24 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The China National Space Administration (CNSA) on Thursday (March 4) published high-resolution images of Mars captured by the Tianwen-1 probe. These images include two panchromatic images and one color image, said the CNSA.
The panchromatic images were taken by the high-resolution camera of Tianwen-1 at a distance of 330 to 350 km above the surface of Mars, with a resolution of about 0.7 meters.

In the images, Martian landforms such as small craters, mountain ridges and dunes are clearly visible. It is estimated that the diameter of the largest impact crater in the images is around 620 meters.

The color image is of the red planet's North Pole region taken by the medium-resolution camera, the CNSA said.

SkyMan1958
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posted 03-04-2021 10:55 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for SkyMan1958   Click Here to Email SkyMan1958     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Fun pics.

Given the North/South line in both the black and white images I'd say they have a bad sensor. As long as it's just one that's not a major problem.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 05-14-2021 08:52 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
China's Tianwen-1 lander and Zhurong rover are expected to attempt a touchdown on Mars as early as this evening (May 14), according to the China National Space Administration (CNSA).
The Tianwen-1 probe has functioned normally since its successful launch on July 23, 2020, the CNSA said Friday, adding that the probe entered the Martian orbit on Feb. 10, 2021 and has obtained a large amount of scientific data.

According to the evaluation of its flight status, the probe is scheduled to land on Utopia Planitia on Mars, the CNSA said.

According to mission watchers, the first landing attempt could come at 7:10 p.m. EDT (2310 GMT) tonight (May 14). Per Andrew Jones (via Twitter):
Second and third windows, due to Tianwen-1's orbital period of 49 hours, would be 00:15 UTC May 17 (8:15 pm Eastern May 16) and 01:30 UTC May 19 (9:30 pm ET May 18).

Robert Pearlman
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posted 05-14-2021 07:50 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
China's Tianwen-1 lander and Zhurong rover have successfully landed on Mars.

From the Xinhua state news agency:

The lander carrying China's first Mars rover has successfully touched down on the red planet early Saturday morning [May 15] Beijing Time.

It is the first time China has landed a probe on a planet other than Earth.

Blackarrow
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posted 05-15-2021 09:45 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Blackarrow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Whether this is a "remarkable achievement for a first attempt" or "China playing catch-up with America's 1975 twin Viking successes" depends on one's point of view, including one's geopolitical views. For space enthusiasts it is clearly excellent news.

Let's hear no more from the media about "half of Mars probes fail." This season's crop of probes has been highly successful!

Robert Pearlman
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posted 05-15-2021 10:12 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Upcoming mission milestones per CNSA:
  • May 22: Zhurong rover rolls off lander
  • May 27: Lander and rover photograph each other
  • May 28: first science data is transmitted back to Earth

NukeGuy
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posted 05-17-2021 10:01 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for NukeGuy     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Seems peculiar that a surface photo hasn’t been released by this time. Usually, that is one of the first tasks of a lander in case anything goes wrong.

Headshot
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posted 05-17-2021 11:26 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Headshot   Click Here to Email Headshot     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I agree that it is odd that no post landing pictures have been released. The longer CNSA waits, the higher the chance that NASA will release an MRO image of the Chinese spacecraft at its landing site first.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 05-17-2021 11:57 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
U.S. missions have the luxury of multiple orbiters with which to relay photos and other data back to Earth. China only has one, the Tianwen-1 orbiter (with ESA's Mars Express as a backup), and relays were reportedly not possible as it returned from its lander deploy orbit back to its operational orbit.

That accounts for at least some of the delay.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 05-19-2021 08:38 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The first photos and videos are in from Mars:

Headshot
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posted 05-19-2021 10:40 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Headshot   Click Here to Email Headshot     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Has the CNSA released the coordinates of their landing site? Utopia Planitia is a rather large area.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 05-19-2021 10:58 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The coordinates were displayed on the large screen in front of CNSA's mission control after the landing:

Robert Pearlman
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posted 05-19-2021 06:14 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Here is a Planetary Society-produced infographic showing the location of Tianwen-1 with respect to the United States' rovers and landers. This was produced before Zhurong reached the surface, but is close to where it touched down.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 05-22-2021 08:51 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Xinhua state news agency video
Fresh from Mars! China's first Mars rover, Zhurong, has driven down from its landing platform to the Martian surface.

oly
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posted 05-22-2021 08:05 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for oly   Click Here to Email oly     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Is the Mars rover from China a similar design to their lunar rover design?

Blackarrow
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posted 06-04-2021 12:38 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Blackarrow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It's a little surprising we haven't seen more images yet.

For instance, it has been suggested by other sources that the lander would take images of the rover on 27th May. Even allowing for limited relay opportunities via China's sole Martian orbiter, it surely shouldn't take a week to produce an image of the rover.

After all, it would be a great propaganda tool, and the longer the delay, the more tempting it is to conclude (rightly or wrongly) that "something has gone wrong."

Robert Pearlman
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posted 06-04-2021 12:58 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
According to journalist Andrew Jones (via Twitter):
...Zhurong has been on the move, data has been returned and we could/should see something new within a few days.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 06-08-2021 07:04 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
China National Space Administration (CNSA) release
New images of Mars taken by the Tianwen-1 probe have been released

A new image taken by a high-resolution camera installed on the orbiter of Tianwen-1 at 6 p.m. on June 2 (Beijing Time), shows the landing platform and the Zhurong Mars rover on the Martian surface.

In the image, taken by a high-resolution camera installed on the orbiter of Tianwen-1 at 6 p.m. on June 2 (Beijing Time), two bright spots are visible in the upper right corner. The larger one is the landing platform, and the smaller one is the Zhurong Mars rover.

China's Tianwen-1 mission, consisting of an orbiter, a lander, and a rover, was launched on July 23, 2020. The lander carrying the rover touched down in the southern part of Utopia Planitia, a vast plain in the northern hemisphere of Mars, on May 15.

The rover Zhurong drove down from its landing platform to the Martian surface on May 22, starting its exploration of the red planet, and making China the second country after the United States to land and operate a rover on Mars.

The dark area surrounding the landing platform might be caused by the influence of the engine plume during landing. The symmetrical bright stripes in the north-south direction of the landing platform might be from fine dust when the landing platform emptied the remaining fuel after landing.

The bright spots in the center of the image are the back cover of the entry capsule and the parachute jettisoned during the landing. Another bright spot in the lower left of the image is the heat shield of the entry capsule.

As of June 6, the rover Zhurong has been working on the surface of Mars for 23 Martian days to detect the environment, move around the surface, and carry out scientific exploration. A Martian day is approximately 40 minutes longer than a day on Earth.

All scientific equipment aboard the rover is turned on to collect data. The orbiter operates in a relay orbit with a cycle of 8.2 hours, providing relay communication for the scientific exploration of the Mars rover.

The rover Zhurong is named after the god of fire in ancient Chinese mythology. The name echoes with the Chinese name for the red planet, Huoxing (the fire planet), while the name of the mission, Tianwen, means Questions to Heaven. It is the title of a poem by the ancient Chinese poet Qu Yuan (circa 340-278 BC).

With an expected lifespan of at least 90 Martian days (about three months on Earth), Zhurong will record the Martian landscape with high-resolution three-dimensional images and analyze the material composition of the planet's surface. It will also detect its sub-surface structure and magnetic field, search for traces of ice and observe the surrounding meteorological environment.

The orbiter, with a design life of one Martian year (about 687 days on Earth), will relay communications for the rover while conducting its own scientific detection operations.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 06-10-2021 10:12 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The China National Space Administration (CNSA) has released new photos of Zhurong and the Tianwen-1 lander, including an image of them both captured by a small remote camera that the rover deposited on the surface.

damnyankee36
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posted 06-14-2021 02:17 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for damnyankee36   Click Here to Email damnyankee36     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Has anyone noticed the depression the engine apparently made? I saw a video on YouTube with close-up photos of this "crater."

I'm surprised that there was that much soil dislodged based on the photos of the Apollo lunar module's effect on the moon's surface. I don't believe I've seen anything like this on any other Mars landings either.

Headshot
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posted 06-14-2021 02:45 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Headshot   Click Here to Email Headshot     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Nice catch!

The crater is easily seen in the third image from the top of the four image posting above yours. That is some major erosion! Must be the nature of the underlying material.

Bet that entire area is contaminated by rocket exhaust by-products. Their rover is gonna have to rove quite a bit before it get to pristine surroundings.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 06-14-2021 02:56 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Phil Metzger, a planetary scientist at the University of Central Florida, briefly addressed this on Twitter:
Now that's a crater. Note the steep sides of the hole due to the cohesion of the soil. Now imagine a 40 ton lander and how big its hole will be. That hole will likely collapse (especially as the hole dries out over the coming weeks) sapping soil away from the footpads.

This soil sapping from the footpads may induce tilting of the lander. That's one of the three risks of landing very large landers on Mars. The second is ejecta hitting the lander as the rocket exhaust comes back up from the hole before engine cutoff. Third: hitting surrounding hardware.

By the way, ongoing research by Masten Space is working to solve the physics of rockets digging craters. UCF supports that project with drop tower experiments and analysis. We are learning how to manage the cratering for Moon and Mars landings and launches.

SkyMan1958
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posted 06-14-2021 05:22 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for SkyMan1958   Click Here to Email SkyMan1958     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
My profession is to interpret satellite imagery. Interestingly the crater looks directional. Notice how in the third image the hole seems significantly deeper on the upper left side of the crater, as opposed to the lower right side, also note how there appears to be no crater "wall" on the lower right side, but there does appear to be a crater "wall" on the left side, and potentially on the upper left and upper right sides (it's hard to tell from the image).

Potentially (i.e. it's a guess here), the lander was moving slowly from the lower right side of the picture to the upper left when it landed. Another possibility is that the cohesiveness of the soil is different on the lower right side than on the upper left side. One issue about that, is that you would expect an area with lower cohesiveness would allow for the creation of a deeper crater than an area with higher cohesiveness.

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posted 06-14-2021 08:24 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Headshot   Click Here to Email Headshot     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Did not each of the three descent engines on our Viking lander have like 18 small nozzles to spread out the exhaust to avoid major erosion? One would think that the Chinese could have copied that old design.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 06-27-2021 11:51 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Xinhua state news agency release
China releases new videos, images from Mars probe Tianwen-1

The China National Space Administration (CNSA) on Sunday (June 7) released new videos and images of the country's Mars probe Tianwen-1 landing on and exploring the red planet.

The videos show the landing rover deploying its parachute and descending to the Martian surface, and its Mars rover Zhurong driving away from its landing platform and moving over the land.

The images include the Martian landscape and the ruts left behind by the rover.

Above: Photo released on June 27, 2021 by the China National Space Administration (CNSA) shows wheel ruts left by Mars rover Zhurong.

As of the morning of June 27, the orbiter of the Tianwen-1 mission has been operating around Mars for 338 days, and its Earth-Mars distance is approximately 360 million km.

The Mars rover Zhurong has been working on Mars for 42 Martian days and has driven a total of 236 meters.

Above: Panoramic photo released on June 27, 2021 by the China National Space Administration (CNSA) shows the Martian surface.

Zhurong will continue its movement, detection, and scientific exploration missions as planned.

The orbiter will continue to operate in a relay orbit, providing relay communication for the rover's scientific exploration while conducting its own scientific detection operations.

Blackarrow
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posted 07-18-2021 03:10 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Blackarrow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Most recently, it took images showing the back cover and parachute of the lander at a distance of 30 meters.
I find it a little surprising they didn't go closer to get detailed images of the backshell and parachute to determine their condition. It could help finesse the design for the next mission. Of course, there may be higher-resolution images they don't want to share (although those wheel-tracks seem to indicate they didn't go any closer.)

Robert Pearlman
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posted 01-01-2022 11:15 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
China (CNSA/CLEP/PEC) released new images of its Tianwen-1 probe in Mars orbit as taken by a small satellite ejected from the probe. (It is unclear if these images are from earlier and are only being released now or are new, from a previously unknown second satellite.)

All times are CT (US)

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