A trio of Mars missions in the starting blocks

11 July, 2020 12:00 AM printer

A trio of Mars missions in the starting blocks

PARIS: “We have lift-off, we have lift-off!”

The summer race to land a space probe on Mars is off to a hot start, reports AFP.

Three countries — The Hope Probe (United Arab Emirates), Tianwen-1 (China) and Mars 2020 (United States) — have all taken their positions, hoping to take advantage of the period of time when the Earth and Mars are nearest: a mere 55 million kilometres (34 million miles) apart. The neighbouring planets only come this close once every 26 months — a narrow “launch window” based on their relative positions in space. Space agencies from all three nations plan to send rovers to the Red Planet to look for additional signs of past life and potentially pave the way to — someday — step foot on its surface.

The journey will take about six months. The UAE’s Hope Probe — the first interplanetary mission by an Arab country — launches on July 15. China plans to send its inaugural Mars probe, a small remote-controlled rover, between July 20 and July 25.