Space race: China to launch landmark mission to Mars TODAY with US hot on its heels

The mission, called Tianwen-1, will see the nation launch a spacecraft to another planet by itself for the first time ever. If successful, it will also be the first time any country has ever orbited, landed, and released a rover on Mars on its first attempt.

The nation’s mission to the Mars is one of three taking place this year in a space race to the Red Planet, in what has been described as a “new chapter” of Mars exploration.

Indeed, it will not even be the only Mars mission to take place this week. The United Arab Emirates launched its Hope probe to Mars on Monday which will orbit the planet and study its atmosphere.

It will be closely followed by the US, which will also launch its one-tonne Perseverance robot to drive around Mars’ dusty surface in just over a week.

The United States, Russia, Europe, Japan, and India are all countries that have previously operated – or are currently operating – Mars missions.

READ: Curiosity captures 4K images of Red Planet’s surface

Its rover will weigh 240kg – twice the weight of China’s Yutu rovers which operated on the moon.

Laura Forczyk, a space consultant, told New Scientist the mission was “very ambitious” because of the four parts involved: launch, orbit, landing, and the rover. She added: “every single step has to go right.”

According to an article published to the journal Nature by the team behind the mission, Tianwen-1 will build off of China’s existing experience with moon missions.

The team wrote: “Benefiting from the engineering heritage of China’s lunar exploration programme, the Chinese national strategy set Mars as the next target for planetary exploration.

“The main task of Tianwen-1 is to perform a global and extensive survey of the entire planet using the orbiter, and to send the rover to surface locations of scientific interests to conduct detailed investigations with high accuracy and resolution.”

According to Space.com, the mission’s deputy director Zhang Yu recently said the mission is all ready to go.

The mission official told China Central Television (CCTV) the team had “carried out multiple coordinated manoeuvres over flight and control together with launching site system, the rocket system and the probe system” and said “we are capable of conducting the first Mars probe of our country.”

The name ‘Tianwen-1’ means ‘questions to heaven’ – a reference to a poem written by Chinese poet Qu Yuan that is over 2,000 years old.



Space race: China to launch landmark mission to Mars TODAY with US hot on its heels

The mission, called Tianwen-1, will see the nation launch a spacecraft to another planet by itself for the first time ever. If successful, it will also be the first time any country has ever orbited, landed, and released a rover on Mars on its first attempt.

The nation’s mission to the Mars is one of three taking place this year in a space race to the Red Planet, in what has been described as a “new chapter” of Mars exploration.

Indeed, it will not even be the only Mars mission to take place this week. The United Arab Emirates launched its Hope probe to Mars on Monday which will orbit the planet and study its atmosphere.

It will be closely followed by the US, which will also launch its one-tonne Perseverance robot to drive around Mars’ dusty surface in just over a week.

The United States, Russia, Europe, Japan, and India are all countries that have previously operated – or are currently operating – Mars missions.

READ: Curiosity captures 4K images of Red Planet’s surface

Its rover will weigh 240kg – twice the weight of China’s Yutu rovers which operated on the moon.

Laura Forczyk, a space consultant, told New Scientist the mission was “very ambitious” because of the four parts involved: launch, orbit, landing, and the rover. She added: “every single step has to go right.”

According to an article published to the journal Nature by the team behind the mission, Tianwen-1 will build off of China’s existing experience with moon missions.

The team wrote: “Benefiting from the engineering heritage of China’s lunar exploration programme, the Chinese national strategy set Mars as the next target for planetary exploration.

“The main task of Tianwen-1 is to perform a global and extensive survey of the entire planet using the orbiter, and to send the rover to surface locations of scientific interests to conduct detailed investigations with high accuracy and resolution.”

According to Space.com, the mission’s deputy director Zhang Yu recently said the mission is all ready to go.

The mission official told China Central Television (CCTV) the team had “carried out multiple coordinated manoeuvres over flight and control together with launching site system, the rocket system and the probe system” and said “we are capable of conducting the first Mars probe of our country.”

The name ‘Tianwen-1’ means ‘questions to heaven’ – a reference to a poem written by Chinese poet Qu Yuan that is over 2,000 years old.



Brexit talks could COLLAPSE as stubborn EU digs in heels – UK told to cave over fishing

The UK and EU are resuming talks on a post-Brexit trade deal in London today as the two sides desperately try to thrash out an agreement and overcome a number of hurdles. Negotiations began in March but following several rounds of talks, both sides have lamented the lack of progress and significant differences that still exist. This means Britain’s future relationship with the bloc remains undecided – more than four years after the UK voted to leave the EU in a historic referendum.

Now allies of Boris Johnson say he believes Brexit talks could completely collapse over the next few weeks as EU member states take an increasingly tough stance against British demands.

Those close to the Prime Minister have warned he is prepared for leaders of the EU27 pulling out next month because of what one source described to The Times as a “chasm” between the sides.

There are ongoing disagreements on a number of issues, particularly around fishing and LPF rules, which the EU says are needed to prevent unfair competition.

A Downing Street source told The Times: “Michel Barnier is negotiating in good faith but he has to deal with an EU27 who still think unachievable outcomes on fish and LPF are possible.

“We have to deal with reality that the EU27 may tell him at the end of the intensive process that there’s no point in negotiating on this basis.

“That’s why we must be ready for the prospect of talks ending, hence readiness preparations.

“We are relaxed about having the same trade terms as Australia.”

The UK officially left the bloc on January 31, with trade talks beginning in Brussels two months later, led by Boris Johnson’s chief negotiator David Frost and Brussels counterpart Mr Barnier.

READ MORE: Brexit LIVE: Dominic Cummings sends panic through EU with no deal plot

Face-to-face talks were put on hold due to the coronavirus crisis sweeping through the continent, but resumed last month in Brussels, followed by further meetings in London at 10 Downing Street earlier this month.

But both sides have lamented the lack of progress made in negotiations to this point, continuing to insist “significant differences” remain between them.

The UK and EU teams have attacked each other over demands made in a future trade deal, with elements such as fisheries, a level playing field and access from the City of London to EU financial markets acting as major stumbling blocks.

Mr Johnson wants a deal completed over the coming weeks but Angela Merkel said talks could stretch into the autumn and has warned EU nations to prepare for a possible no deal scenario.

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The German Chancellor has also issued several warnings to EU member states to prepare for a no deal Brexit as progress stalls.

Last month, Ms Merkel lashed out at Mr Johnson’s Brexit demands and told him he has to “live with the consequences”, as Germany continued to harden its stance in negotiations.

She said the UK must accept it chose to have a more distant relationship with the EU when it ditched Theresa May’s Brexit deal and must now understand the consequences.

Appearing to harden her approach on a potential compromise, Ms Merkel said: “We need to let go of the idea that it is for us to define what Britain should want.

“That is for Britain to define – and we, the EU27, will respond appropriately.”

She added: “With Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the British Government wants to define for itself what relationship it will have with us after the country leaves.

“It will then have to live with the consequences, of course, that is to say with a less closely interconnected economy.

“If Britain does not want to have rules on the environment and the labour market or social standards that compare with those of the EU, our relations will be less close.

“That will mean it does not want standards to go on developing along parallel lines.”



Melania Trump looks sombre in black polka dot dress and favourite £575 heels with Donald

Melania Trump, 50, showed off her chic fashion sense as she stepped out wearing a black polka dot shirt dress yesterday. She joined her husband, Donald Trump, 74, as they took a tour of the Korean War Veterans Memorial and met with veterans.

The former model wore the shirt dress that highlighted her slim frame with a matching tie belt around her waist.

The look flared out into a full pleated midi skirt, cutting out just above her ankles.

Melania dressed for the warm weather by leaving her legs bare.

When stepping out, Melania will often pick out shoes from her impressive collection of stilettos.

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Yesterday, she brightened her look with one of her favourite pairs, the Christian Louboutin So Kate heels.

The white shoes have a closed toe and 4.7 inch stiletto heel, with similar pairs from the collection on sale for as much as £575.

At the memorial, the President and First Lady met with veterans.

While face masks were not worn, the pair seemed to keep their distance and did not shake the hands of others.

Earlier this year, Melania had been keeping a low profile as a coronavirus lockdown was put in place.

Instead, she would focus on sharing short speeches as videos on her social media accounts.

However, she has recently been making more appearances with her husband as these restrictions start to ease in some parts of the United States.