Six Firsts! Tianwen-1 Spacecraft Development Team Won the World Space Award
Recently, during the 73rd International Astronautical Congress (IAC) held in Paris, France, China’s first Mars probe Tianwen-1 spacecraft development team won IAF World Space Award 2022, which is IAF’s highest award of the year, and was previously awarded to representatives of Chang'e-4 spacecraft development team.
Tianwen-1 probe designed for China’s first Mars exploration task (including “Zhurong” Mars rover, entry capsule and orbiter) and the CZ-5 launch vehicle were developed by China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), while other subsystems of the project were designed by relevant institutions affiliated to CASC. Tianwen-1 Mars orbiter was developed by Shanghai Academy of Spaceflight Technology, which also undertook the development task of power products of the Mars rover and CZ-5 booster.
Tianwen-1 achieved China's first Mars orbiting, landing, patrol and detection only in one mission for the first time throughout human history. Tianwen-1 mission made an important step in China's interplanetary exploration journey, achieved a leap from the Earth-Moon system to the interplanetary system and left the first Chinese imprint on Mars, which is another milestone progress in the development of China's space industry. Since the implementation of Tianqian-1 mission, a series of important scientific research results have been achieved, and relevant international cooperation has also been carried out.
Throughout China’s aerospace development history, Tianwen-1 mission achieved 6 firsts: the first launch of a Earth-Mars transfer orbit probe; the first interplanetary flight; the first soft landing of an superior planet; the first patrol and detection of the surface of an superior planet; the first realization of measurement and control communication at a distance of 400 million kilometers; and the first acquisition of first-hand scientific data on Mars.
▲Tianwen-1 Probe "Group Photo of Landing and Patrol "
▲"Group Photo" of Tianwen-1 Probe (Orbiter) with Mars
As of September 15, 2022, Tianwen-1 orbiter had been operated in the orbit for over 780 days, and the Mars rover had driven for 1,921m in total, completed the set scientific exploration tasks, and also obtained 1,480GB original scientific exploration data. By studying the first-hand scientific data we independently obtained, the scientific research team has achieved rich scientific achievements.
Based on the comprehensive study of typical landforms, such as concave cones, wall impact craters, and trenches distributed in the landing zone, the key link between the formation of the above landforms and water activity was revealed.
▲Map of Impact Craters, Cones, Trenches and Ridges in Zhurong Landing Zone
Water-bearing minerals were found in the slabby crustal rocks near the landing zone through camera images and spectral data, proving the existence of significant amount of liquid water in the landing zone 1 billion years ago (Late Amazonian period).
▲ Schematic Diagram of the Discovery of Slabby Crustal Rocks Rich in Water-bearing Minerals in the Landing Zone by Zhurong and Its Formation Process under the Action of Groundwater
Based on camera images and moving ruts of the Mars rover, it was found that the soil in the landing zone has strong compressive strength and low friction parameters, with characteristics related to water activity and wind and sand abrasion.
▲ Martian Geological Characteristics and Rocks in the Landing Zone of Zhurong
These new achievements have revealed the influence of Martian sand and water activities on geological evolution and environmental changes, provided a strong support for the conjecture that oceans used to exist in Martian utopian plains, and also enriched the scientific knowledge of human on the geological evolution and environmental changes of Mars. The relevant results have been published in domestic and international authoritative academic journals.
In addition, the scientific research team also obtained a number of excellent scientific achievements on the relations between rock density and surface erosion degree on the surface of Mars, the distribution of ions and neutral particles in the near-Mars space environment, and the gravity field of Mars based on Tianwen-1 exploration data.
Currently, Tianqian-1 orbiter is still carrying out scientific exploration in the remote sensing mission orbit, and accumulating first-hand scientific data.