Robots begin an invasion of Mars this week that will take three scientific missions to the planet by month’s end.
On Tuesday, the United Arab Emirates’ Hope probe will reach orbit to study the red planet’s atmosphere. The following day, China’s Tianwen-1 mission will start ticking off its audacious to-do list, which includes placing a vehicle on the surface. Next week, NASA will attempt to land its largest rover yet — an SUV-sized behemoth — in an ancient lake bed.
The two landings will be particularly tense, involving what rocket scientists call “seven minutes of terror.” About 60% of attempts have failed, and if China succeeds, it would be the third country to mark the achievement, after the U.S. and the former Soviet Union.
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