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Mars seen in 2003. Photo: NASA/JPL/Malin Space Science Systems

China's first homegrown Mars mission has successfully made it into orbit around the Red Planet, state-run media confirms.

Why it matters: China is now the sixth nation or space agency to operate a spacecraft in orbit around Mars.

What's happening: The mission — called Tianwen-1 — is expected to gather data about the red world from orbit. Eventually, the spacecraft will release a rover down to the Martian surface.

  • If that rover is a success, it will make China only the second nation after the U.S. to operate a rover on the world's surface.
  • Tianwen-1's achievement comes one day after the United Arab Emirates' Hope probe made it into Mars orbit.

The big picture: China is a leader in space today. The nation has a human spaceflight program, operates satellites and has plans to build an Earth-orbiting space station in the near future.

What's next: Next week, NASA's Perseverance rover is expected to land on the surface of Mars, bringing up the rear of the parade of Mars missions launched in July and arriving at the planet this month.

Go deeper: The new Mars club

Go deeper

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
Feb 9, 2021 - Science

The UAE's Hope probe makes it to Mars

Mars as seen by the Hubble Space Telescope. Photo: NASA/ESA/STScI

The United Arab Emirates' Hope probe successfully made it into orbit around Mars Tuesday, vaulting the Arab nation into an elite class of space-faring nations.

Why it matters: With Hope's success, the UAE is now the fifth nation or space agency to operate an orbiter around Mars.

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
Feb 9, 2021 - Science

The new Mars club

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

The newest missions to Mars are about life on Earth as much as they're about science on the Red Planet.

Why it matters: The United Arab Emirates and China, which each have missions arriving at Mars this week, have tied geopolitical and national ambitions to their Martian endeavors.

Feb 9, 2021 - Science

Erdoğan says Turkey will reach the Moon by 2023

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan speaking in Ankara, Turkey, on Feb. 9. Photo: Ali Balikci/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced Tuesday a 10-year space program that includes missions to the Moon and the development of new satellite systems.

Why it matters: Erdoğan said his country plans to send its citizens into space with international cooperation, build a spaceport with other countries and create a "global brand" of satellite technology, according to AP.

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