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Mars probe makes first mid-course adjustment

By Zhao Lei | China Daily | Updated: 2020-08-03 06:00

Mars probe makes first mid-course correction maneuverd. [Photo/Xinhua]

China's Tianwen 1 Mars probe carried out its first mid-course correction on Sunday morning, according to the China National Space Administration.

The spacecraft's main orbital-control engine was activated at 7 am for 20 seconds to fine-tune the spacecraft's trajectory, the administration said in a statement on Sunday.

The operation was guided by workers at the Beijing Aerospace Control Center and China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp.

When the correction was made, Tianwen 1 had been in space for more than 9 days and 18 hours on course for the Red Planet and has already traveled about 3 million kilometers, the statement said, adding that the probe was in good condition.

During the seven-month journey, the spacecraft will make two more course corrections and a deep-space maneuver as it makes its way to the planet.

Zhu Qinghua, a senior Shanghai Academy of Spaceflight Technology designer in the Tianwen 1 program, said correction maneuvers are necessary during the probe's unpropelled journey because minor deviations will accumulate to a level that would put the spacecraft off course.

That's why the probe has a main orbital-control engine and dozens of low-thrust motors for correction maneuvers, he said.

Tianwen 1, China's first independent Mars mission, was launched on July 23 at Wenchang Space Launch Center in Hainan province. That launch simultaneously opened China's planetary exploration program.

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