The first Mars exploration mission of China (Tianwen-1) is scheduled to be launched in 2020; a charged particle telescope, the Mars Energetic Particle Analyzer (MEPA), is carried as one of the payloads on the orbiter. The MEPA is designed to measure solar energetic particles (SEPs) and galactic cosmic rays (GCRs) in the near-Mars space and in the transfer orbit from Earth to Mars. Before the launch, the MEPA was calibrated in ground experiments with radioactive sources, electronic pulses, and accelerator beams. The calibration parameters, such as energy conversion constants, threshold values for the triggers, and particle identification criteria, were determined and have been stored for onboard use. The validity of the calibration parameters has been verified with radioactive sources and beams. The calibration results indicate that the MEPA can measure charged particles reliably, as designed, and that it can satisfy the requirements of the Tianwen-1 mission.
As one of the seven scientific payloads on board the Tianwen-1 orbiter, the Mars Orbiter Magnetometer (MOMAG) will measure the magnetic fields of and surrounding Mars to study its space environment and the interaction with the solar wind. The instrument consists of two identical triaxial fluxgate magnetometer sensors, mounted on a 3.19 meter-long boom with a seperation of about 90 cm. The dual-magnetometers configuration will help eliminate the magnetic field interference generated by the spacecraft platform and payloads. The sensors are controlled by an electric box mounted inside the orbiter. Each magnetometer measures the ambient vector magnetic field over a wide dynamic range (to 10,000 nT per axis) with a resolution of 1.19 pT. Both magnetometers sample the ambient magnetic field at an intrinsic frequency of 128 Hz, but will operate in a model with alternating frequency between 1 and 32 Hz to meet telemetry allocations.
The Mars Ion and Neutral Particle Analyzer (MINPA) is one of the three scientific instruments onboard the Tianwen-1 orbiter to investigate the Martian space environment. During Tianwen-1’s transfer orbit to Mars, the MINPA was switched on to measure the solar wind ions. Here, we present the first results of the MINPA observations in the solar wind. During cruise, nearly half of the MINPA ion field-of-view (FOV) was blocked by the lander capsule; thus only the solar-wind ions with azimuthal speeds pointing towards the unblocked FOV sectors could be detected. We perform a detailed comparison of the MINPA’s solar wind observations with data from Earth-based missions when MINPA reached its count-rate peak, finding a general consistency of the ion moments between them. The blocking effect due to the lander is evaluated quantitatively under varying solar-wind velocity conditions. Despite the blocking effect, the MINPA’s solar wind measurements during the transfer orbit suggest a good performance.
The background and scientific objectives of the Mars Climate Station (MCS) for Tianwen-1 are introduced, accompanied by a comparative review of the status of related meteorological observation missions and of advanced sensing technologies. As one of the China Tianwen-1 Mission’s principal scientific payloads, the MCS contains four measurement sensors and one electronic processing unit that are specially designed to measure local temperature, pressure, wind, and sound on the Martian surface. The MCS’s measurement principles, technical schemes, ground calibration techniques, and adaptability evaluation to the Mars surface environment of MCS are introduced in details. The conclusion presents measurement performance specifications of the MCS, based on ground test results, that will provide guidance to future research based on data from the Tianwen-1 and later Mars missions.