Tianwen-1 ("questions to heaven") Mars mission includes a Martian orbiter and a lander/rover duo. This will be China's first mission to Mars. The spacecraft will reach Mars in February 2021. Lander will remain attached to the orbiter for two to three months before attempting its landing. The chosen landing area is Utopia Planitia, a huge basin formed by a large impact far back in Mars' history. The rover is expected to be in operation for about 90 Martian sols. The Tianwen-1 orbiter will provide a relay communication link to the rover while performing its own scientific observations for one Martian year. The orbiter will operate in a polar orbit in order to map Mars' morphology and geological structure while also using the Mars-Orbiting Subsurface Exploration Radar instrument to investigate soil characteristics and water-ice distribution. It will also measure the ionosphere and the electromagnetic and gravitational fields, the new paper reported. The rover will have 13 instruments detecting things such as topography, soil, environment, atmosphere, water ice, physical field and internal structure. It will investigate the surface soil characteristics and water-ice distribution with its own Subsurface Exploration Radar. It will also analyze surface material composition and characteristics of the Martian climate and environment on the surface.
The China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) is the main contractor for the Chinese space program. It is state-owned and has a number of subordinate entities which design, develop and manufacture a range of spacecraft, launch vehicles, strategic and tactical missile systems, and ground equipment. It was officially established in July 1999 as part of a Chinese government reform drive, having previously been one part of the former China Aerospace Corporation. Various incarnations of the program date back to 1956.