China quietly lands its ultra-secret experimental spacecraft

There are three major missions bound for Mars in the space of just 10 days this month - the UAE's Hope orbiter, China's Tianwen-1 craft and NASA's Perseverance rover. 

The countries are taking advantage of a period when Earth and Mars are favourably aligned for a relatively short journey.  

July 20: Hope (UAE)

The 3,000lb (1,350kg) craft (pictured) will complete one orbit every 55 hours for a total of one Martian year — 687 Earth days

The 3,000lb (1,350kg) craft (pictured) will complete one orbit every 55 hours for a total of one Martian year — 687 Earth days

 - The 2,970-pound probe was built entirely within the Emirates, launched from Japan and will take seven months to reach the Red Planet. 

- When the orbiter gets there in February 2021, it will stay in orbit for a whole Martian year – 687 days. 

- Hope will not land on the Martian surface but take readings from the Red Planet's atmosphere.  

- Hope will help answer key questions about the Martian atmosphere and the loss of hydrogen and oxygen gases into space over the span of one Martian year – called a 'sol'. 

- Three instruments mounted on the probe will provide a picture of Mars's atmosphere throughout the year, and all of the data gathered will be made widely available. 

- This includes an infrared spectrometer to measure the lower atmosphere and temperature, a high-resolution imager to study the ozone and another to look at levels of hydrogen and oxygen up to 27,000 miles from the surface. 

July 23: Tianwen-1

The Chinese space exploration authority introduced the nation's first Mars rover Tianwen-1 (pictured) at a grand ceremony earlier this month. The rover measures just over six feet in height

The Chinese space exploration authority introduced the nation's first Mars rover Tianwen-1 (pictured) at a grand ceremony earlier this month. The rover measures just over six feet in height

 - This robotic spacecraft consists of an orbiter (stationed in the atmosphere), a lander (stationary on the planet's surface) and a rover (roaming the surface). 

- The

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