ESS community observe China's first Mars mission launch


     On July 23, a group of 17 students and teachers from the Department of Earth and Space Sciences (ESS) at Southern University of Science and Technology traveled to Wenchang in Hainan Province. The group, led by Professor Shengyi YE and Associate Professor Jian YANG, went to observe the launch of China’s first Mars exploration mission, Tianwen-1.

     At 12:41:15 pm on July 23, Tianwen-1 was successfully launched by a Long March 5 heavy-lift rocket. The name of the mission means ‘questions to heaven,’ taken from the name of a poem by Yuan QU, one of the greatest poets of ancient China. Tianwen-1 will help answer questions concerning the existence of extraterrestrial life, the origin and evolution of the Solar System, and the possibility of human habitation on Mars.

    On the day of the launch, the group arrived at Qishuiwan Beach near the launch site. When the Long March 5 rocket successfully lifted off, loud cheers broke out on the scene. This field trip allowed the students to understand the mission and scientific goals of the Mars exploration program. It also stimulated their enthusiasm for scientific research in space and planetary science.

     According to the Nature Astronomy article “China’s first mission to Mars,” the Tianwen-1 has five scientific objectives. They include: (1) to map the morphology and geological structure, (2) to investigate the surface soil characteristics and water-ice distribution, (3) to analyze the surface material composition, (4) to measure the ionosphere and the characteristics of the Martian climate and environment at the surface, and (5) to perceive the physical fields (electromagnetic, gravitational) and internal structure of Mars.