XI’AN, July 17 (Xinhua) — China’s Xi’an Satellite Control Center announced on Friday it has built a super-strong deep space monitoring network to support the country’s first Mars exploration.
As scheduled, China plans to launch its Mars probe Tianwen-1 between late July and early August. Once the probe was sent into the Earth-Mars transfer orbit, the control center’s two monitoring stations, in Kashgar of northwestern Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, and Jiamusi, in northeastern Heilongjiang Province, will provide monitoring support for it.
Experts at the center said the spaceflight control would be challenging as the probe would take nearly seven months to land on the red planet, which at the farthest point of its orbit is about 400 million km from Earth.
Efforts have been made to upgrade equipment at the two stations. Test results showed that they could meet the demands of spacecraft control on Mars, according to the center.
The two stations completed control tasks for China’s lunar probes including Chang’e-2, Chang’e-3, Chang’e-4 and the test model of Chang’e-5.
The Jiamusi station is equipped with a large-caliber antenna, and with a diameter of 66 meters, it is the largest in Asia. In addition, China’s first deep-space antenna array system, consisting of four 35-meter-diameter antennas, will be put into use in the Kashgar station by the end of this year, said the control center.