China has launched its Tianwen-1 lander, rover and orbiter mission and successfully reached a pre-determined transfer orbit, according to CASC, the nation’s main space contractor. The mission launched early this morning on a powerful Long March 5 rocket from the Wenchang launch site. If the mission succeeds — and there are still a lot of hurdles on the way — China could join the US as the only other nation to get a rover to the red planet’s’ surface.
Designed to check the Red planet’s geology, the 530-pound rover is equipped with six instruments including a weather station, magnetic field detector and ground-penetrating radar, along with two cameras. The orbiter will work in concert with the rover and carry two cameras, subsurface penetrating radar and a geological spectrometer.