China launched a major Mars mission on Thursday in what it hopes will become its first successful landing on the Red Planet.
The mission, known as Tianwen -1 will see a rover, lander and orbiter launched aboard a Long March 5 rocket from the Wenchang Satellite Launch Center on Hainan Island on Thursday. It is China’s first solo mission to Mars after a previous attempt with Russia failed several years ago.
The state-owned China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation declared the launch a success and said the Tianwen-1 rover had been successfully transferred to the “predetermined orbit,” according to an official post on WeChat.
Meanwhile, the U.S. is gearing up for a launch of NASA’s Mars Perseverance Rover which is scheduled for July 30.
China’s Tianwen-1 will arrive at its destination seven months after launch. The orbiter will orbit Mars while the rover and lander will make a journey to the surface of the Red Planet.
Scientists from the world’s second-largest economy hope to map the geological structure of Mars, investigate the characteristics of its soil and water-ice distribution, study the surface material composition and more broadly understand the environment on the planet, according to the mission’s chief scientist.