USA intends to fly to Mars. China intends to fly to Mars. UAE intends to fly to Mars. Three countries at once are going to send their missions to the Red Planet this year. Moreover, if such flights are not new for the United States, then the other two countries are much less experienced in such things.
Which only increases the significance of the upcoming missions.
Incidentally, this is an important question. The fact is that you can't just set any date on Mars like this - and fly.
Approximately once every one and a half to two years, the planets of the solar system are arranged in such a way that the duration of the flight from Earth to Mars is reduced from nine to seven months.
Thus, there is a kind of "window" that allows you to save on time and fuel. This is exactly the kind of "window" that comes.
A brief background
People began to explore Mars a very long time ago - about 3.5 thousand years ago in Ancient Egypt. The first detailed reports on the position of Mars were compiled by astronomers from Babylon, and a number of mathematical methods were developed for this.
Data from the Egyptians and Babylonians helped the ancient Greeks develop a detailed geocentric model to explain planetary motion.
Several centuries later, Indian and Islamic astronomers estimated the size of Mars and the distance to it from Earth.
The first telescopic observations of Mars were made by Galileo Galilei in 1610. The first map of Mars was published in 1840, and more accurate mapping began in 1877.
In the 1920s, the temperature range of the surface of Mars was measured. It was possible to establish that the surface has extreme conditions, similar to the terrestrial arctic deserts.
In 1947, Gerard Koiper determined that Mars' tenuous atmosphere contains large amounts of carbon dioxide.
The first list of names and coordinates of 128 main surface details of Mars, differing in brightness from the surrounding regions, was adopted in 1958 at the X General Assembly of the International Astronomical Union.
Since 1960, launches of automatic interplanetary stations began to study the planet.
Now let's get back to the present.
"Perseverance" is the name of the rover of NASA's Mars 2020 mission. The name was chosen from 28 thousand applications sent by American students for a pre-announced competition.
The winner was the seventh-grader Alexander Maser, who received the right, instead of with his family, to observe the launch of the spacecraft from the cosmodrome at Cape Canaveral.
By the way, the names of all 155 semi-finalists will be printed on a microcircuit that will go to Mars on board of the rover.
The launch itself is currently scheduled for July 30. Although, given the vicissitudes of the weather, changes are always possible (which Elon Musk's SpaceX felt not so long ago).
Depending on the launch date, the rover is expected to arrive on the Red Planet between January 31st and February 18th, 2021.
Landing site is Jezero crater.
The challenge is to find out if there is life on Mars. And assess the prospects for the development of the atmosphere on the planet. In particular, can it ever become fit for human life.
The Perseverance rover is equipped with 23 cameras and weighs 1043 kg. It is planned that it will collect rock and soil samples.
These samples will be placed in sterile metal containers and left on the planet's surface.
They should be picked up by the next NASA mission, which is scheduled for 2026.
Mission of China
Questions to Heaven
Tianwen-1 ("Questions to Heaven"). This is the name of the Chinese mission to Mars. It is named after the poem of Qu Yuan, who lived in about 340-278 BC.
The results of the competition for the choice of the name, which lasted almost four years, were announced on April 24, 2020 - the Chinese Cosmonautics Day.
The launch of the mission is scheduled from April 23 to August 5 (depending on weather and other conditions).
The expected landing site is the Utopia region of the Martian plain. The probe is due to reach its destination in February 2021.
The task is similar to the American mission. That is, the search for traces of life on Mars and "reconnaissance" of the atmosphere.
The rover that will roll around the planet weighs about 200 kg. It is equipped with navigation and topographic cameras, as well as a radar station.
Interestingly, the mission should deliver to Mars not only a rover, but also an orbiter that will explore the planet, moving around it.
The UAE hopes to become the first Arab country to fly interplanetary. The Mars exploration program is called Hope.
The expected launch date (subject to various conditions) is July 20th. It will be made from the Japanese Tanegashima cosmodrome.
The goal is to observe the atmosphere of Mars from orbit to create the first complete picture of the planet's climate throughout the year.
The probe will also study the lower atmosphere, where Martian weather forms.