China aims to launch a rover to Mars on Thursday on a journey coinciding with a similar US mission as the powers take their rivalry into deep space.The two countries are taking advantage of a period when Earth and Mars are closest to send their probes, with China’s mission due to lift off by Saturday and the US spacecraft on July 30.It will be a crowded field. The United Arab Emirates launched a probe on Monday that will orbit Mars once it reaches the Red Planet. But the race to watch is between the United States and China, which has worked furiously to try and match Washington’s supremacy in space.The Chinese mission has been named Tianwen-1 (“Questions to Heaven”) in a nod to a classical poem that has verses about the cosmos.It is expected to launch on a Long March 5 — China’s biggest space rocket — from the southern island of Hainan on Thursday, depending on the weather.Tianwen-1 is expected to arrive in February 2021 after a seven-month, 55-million-kilometre (34-million-mile) voyage. Catching up After watching the United States and the Soviet Union lead the way during the Cold War, China has poured billions of dollars into its military-led space program.”China joining [the Mars race] will change the situation dominated by the US for half a century,” said Chen Lan, an independent analyst at GoTaikonauts.com, which specializes in China’s space program.China has made huge strides in the past decade, sending a human into space in 2003.The Asian powerhouse has laid the groundwork to assemble a space station by 2022 and gain a permanent foothold in Earth orbit.China has already sent two rovers to the Moon. With the second, China became the first country to make a successful soft landing on the far side.The Moon missions gave China experience in operating spacecraft beyond Earth orbit, but Mars is another story.The much greater distance means “a bigger light travel time, so you have to do things more slowly as the radio signal round trip time is large,” said McDowell.It also means “you need a more sensitive ground station on Earth because the signals will be much fainter,” he added, noting that there is a greater risk of failure.China has upgraded its monitoring stations in the far-western Xinjiang region and northeastern Heilongjiang province to meet the Mars mission requirements, state news agency Xinhua reported last week.The majority of the dozens of missions sent by the US, Russia, Europe, Japan and India to Mars since 1960 ended in failure.Tianwen-1 is not China’s first attempt to go to Mars.A previous mission with Russia in 2011 ended prematurely as the launch failed.Now, Beijing is trying on its own.”As long as [Tianwen] safely lands on the Martian surface and sends back the first image, the mission will… be a big success,” Chen said. Topics : The mission includes a Mars orbiter, a lander and a rover that will study the planet’s soil.”As a first try for China, I don’t expect it to do anything significant beyond what the US has already done,” said Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.The United States has already sent four rovers to Mars since the late 1990s.The next one, Perseverance, is an SUV-sized vehicle that will look for signs of ancient microbial life, and gather rock and soil samples with the goal of bringing them back to Earth on another mission in 2031.The Chinese mission is similar to NASA’s Viking missions in 1975-1976, in that it has both an orbiter and a lander, McDowell said.Tianwen-1 is “broadly comparable to Viking in its scope and ambition,” he added.
Advertisement Metro Sport ReporterThursday 30 Jan 2020 2:36 pmShare this article via facebookShare this article via twitterShare this article via messengerShare this with Share this article via emailShare this article via flipboardCopy link641Shares Comment Fleck scored a late equaliser at the Emirates earlier this month (Picture: Getty)However, in a video posted by Sheffield United’s official Twitter account on Thursday afternoon, Fleck shut down rumours of a possible switch to the Emirates.AdvertisementAdvertisement‘We all thought you were leaving this morning,’ a voice in the clip told Fleck at Sheffield United’s training ground.Fleck rather emphatically replied: ‘Eh?! No chance!’’No chance!’ ❌Pretty emphatic response from John Fleck after being linked with Arsenal pic.twitter.com/mMqOXN0sCW— Metro Sport (@Metro_Sport) January 30, 2020 Sheffield United star John Fleck shuts down Arsenal transfer speculation Advertisement John Fleck has rubbished rumours he could be joining Arsenal this January (Picture: Getty)John Fleck has reassured Sheffield United fans that he has no intention of leaving them to join Arsenal this January.The 28-year-old midfielder has had an impressive start to the campaign with the Blades, racking up five goals and two assists in the Premier League, and his eye-catching form is rumoured to have put the Gunners on alert.Last week, Football Insider suggested that Arsenal have been weighing up a £20million bid for Fleck. The report stated that an offer in this region could tempt Sheffield United into selling the Scotland international in the summer.It’s claimed Fleck’s team-mate, George Baldock, is also on Arsenal’s radar after a standout start to the season with the promoted side at right-back.ADVERTISEMENT Arsenal completed a loan move for Flamengo’s Pablo Mari earlier this week and the north London club are expected to unveil Cedric Soares imminently.On Thursday afternoon, Ralph Hasenhuttl admitted that Soares may have played his last match for Southampton.Asked whether Kyle Walker-Peters’ arrival had opened the door to Soares leaving, the Southampton manager replied: ‘From our side, yes.‘The fact is that he’s out of contract in the summer. He is injured at the moment so it will take three or four weeks until he can play again.‘We had a good meeting two days ago. We didn’t speak about that. I was very positive with his development of his game in our shape, I could also imagine going longer with him but sometimes things change quickly in football.’More: FootballRio Ferdinand urges Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to drop Manchester United starChelsea defender Fikayo Tomori reveals why he made U-turn over transfer deadline day moveMikel Arteta rates Thomas Partey’s chances of making his Arsenal debut vs Man CityHasenhuttl added: ‘For the club and for him it’s best and we say “Okay, if you want to leave, you only have two or three months on your contract and it’s better to go and we are concentrating on developing other players”.‘This is our way, this is our philosophy. We went this way for more than a year and see young players developing well.‘We have a few bright diamonds in our youth and we will have a lot of fun with them in the future and Kyle Walker-Peters can be one of them.’MORE: Wes Brown makes Bruno Fernandes admission after Manchester United’s clash with Manchester City