Society

Missions to Mars and the Moon in 2021

Around February of 2021, three spacecrafts will be landing on Mars. What follows is a peek into some of 2021’s expected events of space explorations.

The United Arab Emirates, China, and the United States all launched robotic missions to Mars in July of 2020. On February 9th, the Emirati Hope Orbiter of the Arab country will first arrive at Mars, which will be studying the Martian atmosphere, sending data back to Earth. Soon after that, China’s Tianwen-1 will arrive at Mars on February 10th. It will first orbit the planet, then later will send a lander with a rover to the surface of Mars in May. NASA has been the only one that managed to land the lander undamaged for once, a successful landing would extend China’s space mission achievements.

On February 18th, NASA’s Perseverance rover will arrive and land on the surface of Mars. If it lands successfully, the rover will search for signs of extinct life in crater lakes and riverbeds, after first exploiting a small helicopter called Ingenuity, which will carry out the first powered flight from a surface of another planet.

Illustration of NASA’s Perseverance Rover casting off its spacecraft’s cruise stage before entering the Martian atmosphere.
Image source: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Furthermore, NASA, through the Commercial Lunar Payload Services, has teamed up with numerous private companies to build robotic lunar landers that will carry cargos and people to the moon’s surface. The first company is Pittsburgh’s Astrobotic which will launch its Peregrine lander to moon in June. Next the Intuitive Machines of Houston will launch Nova-C this October.

NASA is also planning to send astronauts back to the moon this decade. The mission’s first step would be running a test flight of a massive Space Launch System. Though the rocket had numerous delays and ballooning costs, NASA still plans a journey in 2021 known as Artemis 1 which is scheduled to launch this November.

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/04/science/space-astronomy-launches.html

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