China’s Mars probe team wins IAF Space award for Tianwen-1 mission

The Tianwen-1 probe recently discovered evidence that supports the theory Mars once had a vast ancient ocean./VCG

The Tianwen-1 probe recently discovered evidence that supports the theory Mars once had a vast ancient ocean./VCG

China’s Mars probe Tianwen-1 team has won this year’s International Astronautical Federation (IAF) World Space Award. It is the second time China has scooped this award after the scientists from Chang’e-4’s lunar landing team won it in 2020.

The Mars probe was launched in July 2020, and the Zhurong rover, which is named after the god of fire in Chinese mythology, landed on the planet in May 2021. The mission was completed three months later.

1040 gigabytes of raw data were sent back to Earth some of which supports the hypothesis that an ancient ocean once existed in the Utopia Planitia, the vast Martian plain that Zhurong is exploring.

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Scientists analyzing the data discovered the existence of hydrated minerals in the “duricrust,” a hard mineral layer that typically forms due to the evaporation of groundwater.

The rover entered rehabilitation stage in May 2022 due to cold weather, and it is expected to resume work in December 2022.

The IAF World Space Award is the most prestigious award the federation hands out, and it recognizes people who has made an exceptional impact to the progress of Space exploration.