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Chinese, European Mars probes complete in-orbit relay communication test

This undated file photo shows an illustration of Tianwen 1 robotic probe entering Martian orbit. [PHOTO PROVIDED TO CHINA DAILY]

BEIJING — China’s Mars probe Tianwen-1 and the European Space Agency’s (ESA’s) Mars Express spacecraft have successfully performed an in-orbit relay communication test, the China National Space Administration (CNSA) said on Wednesday.

China’s Mars rover Zhurong sent test data to Mars Express over a distance of approximately 4,000 kilometers. The communication lasted 10 minutes.

Mars Express received the data and forwarded it to the ESA’s deep space tracking station. After receiving the data, the station sent it to the European Space Operations Center (ESOC), and the ESOC then forwarded the data to the Beijing Aerospace Control Center.

Data analysis results show that the relay communication equipment interfaces of Zhurong and Mars Express match and conform to international standards, and the contents of the transmitted data are complete and correct.

The Tianwen-1 team and the Mars Express team will undertake further cooperation in scientific data relay communication, according to the CNSA.

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