NASA’s Perseverance rover was not the only new arrival at Mars 12 months in the past.
Two different spacecraft additionally made the journey from Earth to Mars over the past window when the 2 planets lined up, serving to every of their nations obtain debuts in interplanetary exploration.
One nation’s exploration isn’t a shock. China is constructing a portfolio of impressive space missions, together with robotic missions to the moon and a space station under construction in Earth orbit. In 2021, its Tianwen-1 mission arrived at Mars with three elements: an orbiter, a lander and a rover named Zhurong.
Months after the mission arrived in Mars orbit, the lander, carrying Zhurong, set down in the southern part of Utopia Planitia, a volcanic plain. That made China solely the second nation to tug off an enduring mission on the floor of the pink planet. Chinese language scientists are scheduled to current a few of their early scientific outcomes subsequent month on the Lunar and Planetary Science Convention in Woodlands, Texas.
The opposite nation was an surprising newcomer: the United Arab Emirates. With out a lot expertise in spaceflight, it collaborated with engineers on the College of Colorado’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and House Physics to construct Hope, a spacecraft concerning the dimension of a small automobile.
Hope is smaller in dimension and ambition than Perseverance or Tianwen-1, however constructing it supplied on-the-job coaching for budding Emirati engineers and scientists who labored side-by-side with their American counterparts in Boulder, Colo.
Hope entered orbit round Mars and continues looping across the planet, making measurements of the environment. It has made some surprising findings, notably the amount of oxygen within the higher environment.
“After we had been evaluating it to the fashions, it was round 50 p.c increased than had been anticipated,” mentioned Hessa al-Matroushi, the mission’s science lead. “In order that was stunning.”
Hope’s devices discovered constructions within the higher environment with increased concentrations of oxygen. Scientists are attempting to determine the importance of the shock.
One other spacecraft, the ExoMars 2022 mission, a collaboration between the European House Company and Roscosmos, the Russian area company, is deliberate for launch to Mars this yr. It was initially scheduled for launch in 2020, however technical issues and the pandemic the mission was postponed. The subsequent alternative for launch opens in late September.
ExoMars is carrying a rover named Rosalind Franklin, which is to search for indications of previous life in Oxia Planum, a 120-mile-wide plain close to the equator that possesses clay-rich minerals.