China is about to launch a trio of spacecraft to Mars — including a rover

(EyesonSci)CHINA-HAINAN-LONG MARCH-5 ROCKET-LAUNCH-PREPARATION (CN)

The Long March 5 rocket at the Wenchang Space Launch Center that will launch Tianwen-1. | Photo: Xinhua via Getty Images

Early on July 23rd, China is slated to launch its most ambitious space mission yet, sending a trio of spacecraft to Mars — including a rover to explore the planet’s surface. If successful, China will become the second nation to land and operate a rover on the Red Planet.

The mission is named Tianwen-1 — after the long poem “Tianwen,” which means “Questions to Heaven” — and it entails sending an orbiter, a lander, and a rover to Mars. The three spacecraft will launch on top of one of China’s most powerful rockets, the Long March 5, and then travel through deep space together to the Red Planet. While the orbiter studies Mars from above, the lander and rover will make the daring plunge to the surface. The lander is tasked with touching down…

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