China’s first Mars exploration mission Tianwen-1 is currently more than 100 million km away from Earth and is functioning normally, the country’s space agency said on Tuesday.
As of Monday, the Mars probe had flown in space for 144 days and travelled more than 360 million km. It was more than 100 million km away from Earth and about 12 million km away from Mars, according to the China National Space Administration (CNSA).
The Mars probe will likely be about 190 million km away from Earth when it reaches the vicinity of Mars.
It will conduct several orbital corrections and will likely decelerate to enter the Mars orbit in mid-February next year, state-run Xinhua news agency reported, citing the CNSA.
The Chinese Mars probe named Tianwen-1, or Quest for Heavenly Truth 1, will fulfill three scientific objectives － orbiting the red planet for comprehensive observation, landing on Martian soil and sending a rover to roam the landing site.
It will conduct scientific investigations into the planet’s soil, geological structure, environment, atmosphere and water.
China in recent years has emerged as a major space power with manned space missions and landing a rover in the dark side of the moon. It is currently building a space station of its own.
Chang’e 5, the third Chinese spacecraft to land on the moon, is the latest in a series of increasingly ambitious missions for Beijing’s space programme.
China’s previous attempt to send an exploratory probe to Mars called Yinghuo-1, in a Russian spacecraft in 2011 failed as shortly after the launch it was declared lost and later burnt during re-entry The US, Russia, India and the EU have succeeded in sending missions to Mars regarded as the most complex space mission.
India became the first Asian country to have successfully launched its Mars orbiter mission Mangalyaan which entered the orbit of the red planet in 2014.
India also became the first country to have entered the Martian orbit in its first attempt.