Can the Chinese Mars lander hover and avoid obstacles? The craft runs tests in the Hebei province. (AP)

Can the Chinese Mars lander hover and avoid obstacles? The craft runs tests in the Hebei province. (AP)

An artist’s idea of NASA’s Mars 2020 rover, Perseverance, with its robotic arm extended (NASA)

An artist’s idea of NASA’s Mars 2020 rover, Perseverance, with its robotic arm extended (NASA)

An illustration of the Hope probe, the United Arab Emirates spacecraft bound for Mars (AP)

An illustration of the Hope probe, the United Arab Emirates spacecraft bound for Mars (AP)

2020: The Summer of Mars

Posted: September 1, 2020

Red Planet, here we come!

Who is coming? The United States is. China is on the way too. Even the United Arab Emirates joins in.

It was the summer of Mars. The three nations each launched Mars-bound crafts in July. China’s rover would be the first Chinese craft on Mars. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) intends for its craft to circle Mars. If these missions succeed, China and the UAE will be welcomed into one of the fanciest clubs in the world—the “We Made It to Mars” club. So far, only the United States, the Soviet Union, a European group, and India can claim that honor.

The United States is sending its fifth Mars spacecraft. It is a six-wheeled rover named Perseverance. Perseverance will land on a part of Mars never before explored by a spacecraft. It will search for evidence that microscopic life once existed there. And it will start NASA’s Mars rock collection. A later mission will pick up Perseverance’s gathered rocks and bring them to Earth. No one has ever brought samples back from Mars before.

The world will wait seven months while the crafts travel. Around February, news should come back. Did the missions land successfully?

Mars landings won’t be easy to achieve. If you could stand on Mars, you’d see why. Failed spacecraft litter the rocky surface. Only NASA has succeeded at landing on Mars again and again.

Space missions can go wrong in countless ways. But scientists keep trying. Will a summer mission fail? If so, it’s back to the marker board!

Endurance produces character. — Romans 5:4