What is China looking for on Mars – science – life

What is China looking for on Mars – science – life

This week, China’s space agency achieved that its Tianwen probe landed on the Utopia Plain (Mars), a success similar to that of its missions to the moon. There they deposited two mobile vehicles, one on the far side, and the other which made it possible to bring nearly two kilograms of samples onto the ground.

(You may be interested: First pictures of the Chinese Taiwen-1 probe from Mars.)

Little by little, that country has caught up with competitors like NASA. Much more if one takes into account the complexity of the operation on Mars; The mission was not only limited to an orbiter, but also a lander and a rover.

China has also shown exceptional maturity in the technologies it has developed, both in the return maneuver and in the landing itself. The experience gained from the lunar missions has been very beneficial.

Not only did he use LIDAR (a type of radar based on laser emitters) to calibrate the altitude during landing, but he also used two television cameras that allowed him to choose the best place to sit.

(Also: This will be Noa, the first city to have Mars in the year 2100).

These devices are able to analyze terrain, identify rocks and other accidents and independently guide the path so that they can avoid them.

By the time the “landing” signal was received, Tianwen had already crouched in the utopia for about a quarter of an hour. The same area that Viking 2 landed in in 1976 for life detection experiments with negative results.

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What to look for in China with Tianwen?

Only the Chinese probe will be developed Geological studies Non-belogy. To do this, one of the equipment on board – developed in cooperation with the French CNES – is a laser spectrophotometer. American vehicles Curiosity and Perseverance carry a similar system.

In a report on the topic, the newspaper Country It demonstrates that a spectrophotometer is a laser projector capable of vaporizing small chunks of rock, with shots only a few nanoseconds, repeated tens of times in rapid succession. A telescopic camera detects the brightness of the debris cloud and sends it through optical fibers to spectrometers.

(Also: The world’s largest iceberg breaks through Antarctica.)

These instruments – the report notes – measure the intensity of the light emitted from different frequencies: ultraviolet, visible and infrared. It is like a “fingerprint” that allows identification of the elements in a sample: magnesium, aluminum, silicon, iron and some more exotic elements such as titanium, chromium or rubidium.

On the other hand, the Zhurong rover, which is slightly larger and slightly heavier than the Opportunity and Spirit, is now inactive, carries many additional tools: a geological radar capable of analyzing different layers of Earth up to a hundred meters deep, a field scale. A magnetic and miniature weather station with similar functions to those of the sensors (designed and built in Spain) that equip curiosity and perseverance and which continue to transmit its readings to Earth on a daily basis.

With information from El País, from Spain

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