Watch: NASA’s asteroid camera captures China’s Mars mission on its way to the Red Planet

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Published: July 26, 2020 6:54 PM

The Tianwen-1 will reach Mars' orbit in February 2021 and the rover will land on the Red Planet in May, the IE report added.

 National Aeronautics and Space Administration, NASA, NASA asteroid alert, China Mars mission, China Tianwen-1 Mars mission, Tianwen-1 Mars mission, China Mars mission, Tianwen-1, NASA Asteroid Watch, NASA Planetary Defense Coordination Office, NASA Hawaii Island Mauna Loa observatory, Image of China’s Tianwen-1 Mars spacecraft spotted by NASA’s Hawaii-based asteroid survey ATLAS. (Image Courtesy: NASA)

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has many observatories that always keep a tab on asteroids that can be potentially hazardous to the Earth. One such NASA-affiliated observatory spotted the recently-launched Chinese Mars mission and shared its bright images on Twitter.

The object that was spotted by the observatory was China’s Tianwen-1 Mars mission, that had been launched on July 23. Sharing the image, NASA’s Asteroid Watch tweeted: “During routine survey operations for hazardous #asteroids for @NASA’s #PlanetaryDefense Coordination Office, the @fallingstarIfA ATLAS-MLO telescope spotted China’s Tianwen-1 on its way to #Mars. Bon Voyage Tianwen-1!”

The image and animation of the Chinese spacecraft speeding away from Earth were captured by a program run by NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office from a facility on Hawaii Island’s Mauna Loa, Space.com reported. The report added that the Planetary Defense Coordination Office of NASA keeps a vigilant eye on the sky, spots space rocks thereby helping astronomers map the path of the objects.

The Tianwen-1 spacecraft is on a seven-month journey to the Red Planet. It features an orbiter, a lander and a rover. It weighs 5 tonnes and was launched on a Long March 5 rocket from China’s Xichang. The orbiter, weighing around 240 kg, will use high-resolution cameras to look for suitable landing spots in the Utopia Planitia region of Mars.

IE reported that Tianwen-1 means “Questions to Heaven”, and the main mission of the spacecraft is to study the sub-layer distribution and the thickness of the Martian soil. The report also stated that the Tianwen-1 mission has many scientific goals, which include determining the composition of Mars’ surface material by studying geology, topography, climate and environment on the Red Planet.

The Tianwen-1 will reach Mars’ orbit in February 2021 and the rover will land on the Red Planet in May, the IE report added.

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