China has launched an ambitious space odyssey to explore Mars. Its largest rocket, the Long March 5, blasted off from the southern island of Hainan a few days ago. The Tianwen-1 spacecraft is expected to enter Mars’ orbit next February.
It’s going to be a long journey, but not exactly a lonely one. The United Arab Emirates recently launched a space probe, becoming the first Arab country to send a mission to the Red Planet. The United States is also joining the fray, sending its Perseverance rover soon. While all three spacecraft are expected to reach Mars next February, China’s mission has a distinction: it’s the first time a country is sending an orbiter, a lander and a rover in a single trip.