China Mars Probe Tianwen-1 Photographs Earth en Route to Red Planet

China’s first Mars probe has beamed back a photo of the Earth and the Moon as it heads toward its destination, the country’s space agency said Tuesday.

The image, which shows the two celestial bodies as small crescents in the empty darkness of space, was taken 1.2 million km away from Earth three days after the Tianwen-1 mission was launched on Thursday, the China National Space Administration said.

China joined the United States and United Arab Emirates this month in launching a mission to Mars, taking advantage of a period when Mars and Earth are favourably aligned.

The mission, given a name that means “Questions to Heaven,” aims to enter Martian orbit seven months after the launch and release a small rover to study the planet’s surface.

It’s the latest milestone in Beijing’s space programme, which has sent two rovers to the Moon and set up a satellite navigation, Beidou, to rival the United States’ GPS.

The National Space Administration on Tuesday said Tianwen-1, which has left Earth’s gravitational field, “is currently in good flight conditions, has balanced fuel and is operating normally.”

The rover had by Tuesday traveled least 1.5 million km from Earth, the agency

Is Milky Way a Cosmic Graveyard of Extinct Civilizations?

Maybe its time to search for extraterrestrial civilizations that existed in a distant past?

A new research article published on arXiv.org presents an interesting statistical modeling of how intelligent life could have been distributed throughout the entire space of the Milky Way over the course of its existence.

Our Milky Way. Image credit: Denis Degioanni from Unsplash

According to different galaxy age estimation methods, our Milky Way is around 12-13 billion years old. From logical perspective, during such a vast time scale and given an extremely large number of stars contained in the galaxy, intelligent life forms could have emerged many times, in different locations. In the same way, those intelligent life forms could have gone extinct due to different reasons.

In a certain sense, the new paper improves the famous Drake equation, which since 1961 has been used to estimate the number of active civilizations in the Milky Way galaxy, based on a number of approximate parameters. The authors of this research present their own version which can ‘do’ a bit more: to tell where and when life could have formed, while also factoring in parameters potentially leading to its destruction, including possibility of self-destruction.

The authors