On Thursday, February 18, the American spacecraft Perseverance landed on Mars. It was another element of the international competition for Mars. A few days earlier, the United Arab Emirates spacecraft “Al-Amal” and the Chinese ship Tianwen-1 arrived to Mars too.

Perseverance – important continuation
The American rover is a part of the Mars 2020 mission. It landed thanks to the largest-ever parachute. He is accompanied by a miniature helicopter, microphones and ground digging equipment. Perseverance’s task is to identify and collect rock samples, the analysis of which will provide information on the geological history of the planet. If the rover collects the right types of rocks, scientists in laboratories on Earth will then be able to detect possible traces of Martian life. The Jezero crater with a diameter of 49 km, which – according to scientists – may have once been a lake, is of particular interest. The rover will collect rock samples and put them in special boxes that will be taken to Earth during the next mission.

Perseverance is the successor to the Curiosity rover, which continues to run on Mars. The mission cost $ 2.7 billion. The ship was launched from the spaceport at Cape Canaveral in Florida in late July last year. His trip to Mars took 7 months.

The Chinese will look for water ice
The Chinese probe docked in orbit on February 10 this year. It is complemented by an orbital module and a rover. It should land on the surface of the planet in May this year where It will be searching for three months the evidence of past or present life on the planet. It will analyze the potential localization of water ice. The rover is scheduled to land in the area of Mars called Utopia Plainita. The Tianwen-1 with instruments were launched from the Wenchang cosmodrome in July last year, using its own rocket, Long March 5.

Tianwen-1 is the second, this time successful, mission of the PRC to Mars. The first, carried out together with Roskomos under the name of Yinghuo-1 (Świetlik 1 – Polish), was unsuccessful. The current mission is independent.

The Arabs will dock in orbit but will not land
In turn, the Arab Al-Amal probe has already arrived in orbit on February 9 and sent the first picture of Mars (the largest volcano in the solar system, Olympus Mons in sunlight). Unlike the American and Chinese missions, the Arab spacecraft will not land on the planet. It will orbit Mars and explore its atmosphere. Scientists want to understand the mechanisms of why hydrogen and oxygen escaped from the Martian atmosphere that resulted in drying it out. Their conclusions will be used to analyze the possibility of settling the planet in the distant future.

The Arab mission cost $ 200 million. The research probe was constructed by the consortium of the Rashid Dubai Space Center and the US University of Colorado at Boulder and the University of California at Berkeley. The spacecraft was launched from the Japanese spaceport on the island of Tanegashima in July 2020.

The USA, Russia, India, ESA and now China and the UAE are among the countries and organizations that have reached Mars or its orbit.

The landing of the Perseverance spacecraft was broadcasted via mass media and on the internet at the link: https://mars.nasa.gov/.

In the photo: an artistic illustration of the Jezero Crater. Source: https://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/PIA24309