Tianwen 1 – Mars Mission

China’s Tianwen 1 unmanned spacecraft is set to enter an orbit around Mars on Wednesday 10 February 2021 following its successful launch on 23 July 2020 from the Wenchang Space Launch Center in Hainan province. It is the second of 3 separate missions to reach Mars (by UAE, China and USA) which launched in July 2020 from Earth. This will be the first Chinese spacecraft to reach Mars.

The spacecraft consists of an orbiter and lander. The plan is to launch the lander from the orbiter in May/June 2021. The lander carries a rover, powered by solar panels to enable further exploration of the surface of Mars. The orbiter will then enter a higher orbit to relay communications to and from Earth.

A paper published in the Chinese Journal of Space Science, in June 2018, contains further details about the mission


China plans to implement the first Mars exploration mission in 2020. It will conduct global and comprehensive exploration of Mars and high precision and fine resolution detection of key areas on Mars through orbiting, landing and roving. The scientific objectives include studying the Martian morphology and geological structure characteristics, studying the soil characteristics and the water-ice distribution on the Martian surface, studying the material composition on the Martian surface, studying the atmosphere ionosphere and surface climate and environmental characteristics of Mars, studying the physical field and internal structure of Mars and the Martian magnetic field characteristics. The mission equips 12 scientific payloads to achieve these scientific objectives. This paper mainly introduces the scientific objectives, exploration task, and scientific payload.


Papers published in the Chinese Journal of Space Science

Chinese Journal of Space Science

15 September 2018, Volume 38 Issue 5

Scientific Objectives and Payloads of Chinese First Mars Exploration

JIA Yingzhuo, FAN Yu, ZOU Yongliao. Scientific Objectives and Payloads of Chinese First Mars Exploration[J]. Chinese Journal of Space Science, 2018, 38(5): 650-655.

Scientific objectives and payloads of Tianwen-1, China’s first Mars exploration mission


Advances in Space Research, Volume 67, Issue 2, 2021, Pages 812-823, ISSN 0273-1177,


This paper describes the scientific objectives and payloads of Tianwen-1, China’s first exploration mission to Mars. An orbiter, carrying a lander and a rover, lifted-off in July 2020 for a journey to Mars where it should arrive in February 2021. A suite of 13 scientific payloads, for in-situ and remote sensing, autonomously commanded by integrated payload controllers and mounted on the orbiter and the rover will study the magnetosphere and ionosphere of Mars and the relation with the solar wind, the atmosphere, surface and subsurface of the planet, looking at the topography, composition and structure and in particular for subsurface ice. The mission will also investigate Mars climate history. It is expected that Tianwen-1 will contribute significantly to advance our scientific knowledge of Mars.

Update 10 February 2021: China says it has successfully put its Tianwen-1 mission in orbit around Mars.