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China's first Mars probe completes first trajectory optimization

China's first Mars probe Tianwen-1 completed its first trajectory adjustment on Sunday morning to continue its exploration of Mars. Before the probe arrives at Mars, it will travel for roughly 450 million kilometers.

"We've calculated that our probe will fly for about seven months from the Earth to Mars. When it finally arrives, the total traveling distance will be about 450 million kilometers," said Xu Liang, one of designers of Tianwen-1. During its journey, the probe needs to adjust its trajectory several times to stick to its way to Mars. Each adjustment will change the probe's altitude, speed and orbit to help it fend off disturbances from the universe.

"We estimate that in September, the trajectory will be adjusted and our probe will fly towards Mars. But as it draws near Mars, it will adjust two more times to get the most perfect orbit inclination and landing point. Those two adjustments will be minor compared to previous ones," said Zhang Yuhua, deputy chief commander of Tianwen-1.
The name Tianwen-1 means quest for heavenly truth and comes from a poem written by Qu Yuan (about 340-278 BC), one of the greatest poets in ancient China. The name signifies the Chinese nation's perseverance in pursuing truth and science and exploring nature and the universe. The probe was successfully launched on July 23. It is the first step of China's Mars mission. The craft is expected to reach Mars around February 2021.

After its landing, a rover will be released to conduct scientific exploration with an expected lifespan of at least 90 Martian days (about three months on Earth), and the orbiter, with a design life of one Martian year (about 687 days on Earth), will relay communications for the rover while conducting its own scientific exploration.

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