In the last 50 years of Mars exploration, every space faring nations and agencies have been keeping plans for an eventual Mars missions. The window of opportunity to visit the red planet comes only every two years. It is amazing to see many have been flocking lately.
At the onset of the Mars exploration… and on Space programs in general, it has always been, “Who will be the first”. A source of prestige or pride, those who has the capability to do such, will eventually sprints to get into that path to Mars.
Year 2020 have been the weirdest year, in my opinion. Global pandemic hits and some scattered unusual distractions experienced locally. From time to time, we need to pause our attention on those depressing news. On top of this, though, we experienced some source of hope and see positivity.
All eyes are on NASA’s Mars 2020 mission. But, let’s not forget, it was the latest launch of 3 for this year…
Emirates Mars Mission
Launch: July 19, 2020
This is an Orbiter mission to study daily and seasonal daily weather patterns. Also known as Hope (Arabic: مسبار الأمل, Al Amal), is from United Arab Emirates Space Agency program. A significant step for Space Program in the Middle East.
Launch: July 30, 2020
Undoubtedly, the most anticipated and will join the ranks of Rovers already in Mars. Packing with new Science instruments, Percy will definitely stretches and augment the existing experiments on the surface of Mars.
Who will reach Mars first?
These 3 missions were slated to arrive on Mars February 2021. The Emirates Mars Mission, did get a head start. So, it will reach there much earlier. Considering as well, that it will be an Orbiter and not worrying on the complex process of descending on the surface.
If we follow the order of launches, Tianwen-1 will be next. For its Orbiter, yes. But, with the Rover. It will touch down Mars two months after Perseverance. Take note, the China National Space Administration (CNSA) haven’t been so public with this mission. So, information are limited. They may have their reason. But, I think the Chinese are smart. This is a three pronged mission, and they would love to ‘nail’ all of them. Finding a good spot for the lander is no easy task. To point out also, it will be series of first steps for the Chinese Mars missions.
Race for prestige?
If this is really a Race, then pride for those reaches first. The early stage of the space race, this was of great attention. Pride rose high and it was a source of national identity.
In my opinion, we are past that. Our drive to explore space is now driven by questions. A long list of curios questions, that needs answers. Answers that can only be uncovered by actually going there, where the questions thrived. Humans should see themselves as a collective entity, looking out for answers. Seeking for those answers should not be held to a single entity. It should shared across and everyone should benefit.
We may be racing to Mars for now. But, I’m hopeful, our curiosity will expand and home in to other neighboring celestial body. Seeking to understand the meaning of being a human thriving on Earth. Uncovering the mysteries if we could find another Earth.
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