China Launches First Probe Mission to Mars

© AP PhotoThe Long March 3B rocket carrying the Chang'e-3 lunar probe is prepared for launch at the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in Xichang in southwest China's Sichuan province on Sunday, Dec. 1, 2013
The Long March 3B rocket carrying the Chang'e-3 lunar probe is prepared for launch at the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in Xichang in southwest China's Sichuan province on Sunday, Dec. 1, 2013 - Sputnik International
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China launched on Thursday a carrier rocket with its first Mars rover called Tianwen-1, China's Xinhua news agency reported.

The Long March 5 carrier rocket was launched at 12:41 p.m. local time (04:41GMT) from the Wenchang Space Launch Center on the southern island province of Hainan.

To launch the Mars mission, a modification of the CZ-5 Y4 with a launch mass of about 870 tonnes was used. The total weight of "Tianwen-1" is approximately 5 tonnes, of which the descent module accounts for 1.3 tonnes; the orbital station weighs approximately 3.7 tonnes.

It will take seven months to cover the distance from the Earth to Mars, which ranges from 55 million to 400 million km due to their different orbits. The probe is expected to reach Mars in February 2021, after which it will first enter a highly elliptical orbit with a complete revolution period of about 10 days.

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