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Two years after humans last landed a probe on Mars, both the United States and China are launching missions to the red planet this month and setting up a new arena for their growing rivalry.
在人类对最后一次对火星展开探测的两年后,美国和中国都在本月对这颗红色星球发射了任务,为两国的激烈竞争找到新的发力点。

Weather permitting, China's Tianwen-1 is expected to blast off Thursday from Hainan Island in the country's south, though the government has yet to publicly confirm the date. NASA's Perseverance rover is scheduled to launch on July 30. Both probes are expected to reach Mars in February 2021.
如果天气允许,预计中国发射的“天问一号”将于本周从南部的海南岛升空,尽管政府尚未公开确认发射日期。美国宇航局(NASA)的恒心漫游者计划在7月30号发射。两个探测计划都有望于2021年2月到达火星。

Perseverance aims to answer questions about the potential for life on Mars, including seeking signs of habitable conditions in the planet's ancient past and looking for evidence of microbial life. The rover has a drill which can be used to collect core samples from rocks and set them aside to potentially be collected and examined by a later mission.
恒心漫游者计划旨在探索火星有关生命潜力的问题,包括寻找地球历史中适宜居住的迹象,并寻找微生物存活的证据。漫游者有一个钻头,可用来从岩石中收集岩心样品,并将其放在一旁以备将来的任务进行收集和检查。

If successful, Perseverance will be the seventh probe NASA has landed on Mars, and the fourth rover. Curiosity, which landed on the red planet in 2012, is still sending back data about the Martian surface.
如果成功,恒心漫游者计划将是NASA 登陆火星的第七次探测,也是第四次对火星的探测。于2012年降落在火星上的好奇号,至今仍会发回火星表面的相关数据。

Tianwen-1, whose name means "Quest for Heavenly Truth," is China's first mission to Mars. The probe will orbit the planet before landing a rover on the surface, with the hope that it can gather important information about the Martian soil, geological structure, environment, atmosphere, and search for signs of water.
天问一号的名字寓意“寻求真相”,是中国对火星发射的首次探测任务。探测器将在落在地表之前绕地球运行,以收集关于火星土壤、地质结构、环境、大气以及寻找水象的重要信息。

In a paper last week, the scientific team behind Tianwen-1 said the probe is "going to orbit, land and release a rover all on the very first try, and coordinate observations with an orbiter. No planetary missions have ever been implemented in this way."
在上周的一篇论文里,天问一号背后的科学团队说“探测器在第一次尝试时就将全部进入轨道,并着陆和释放流动站,同时会与轨道飞行器进行协调观测。在此之前,从未有飞行器任务像这样执行过。”

By contrast, NASA sent multiple orbiters to Mars before ever attempting a landing. Pulling off the landing is a far more difficult task.
相比之下,NASA在尝试着陆前曾向火星发射多个轨道器,可见,降落是一项很艰巨的任务。

"If successful, it would signify a major technical breakthrough," the Chinese team wrote in the journal Nature.
中国团队在《Nature》杂志上写道:“如果天问一号探测任务成功,将标志着重大的技术突破。”


Space race
天际竞赛


In their paper, the Tianwen-1 scientists noted the chance for international collaboration to "advance our knowledge of Mars to an unprecedented level." It's not only their own probe and NASA's that are arriving at the planet next year, but also the United Arab Emirates' Hope Probe, which blasted off on Sunday. The Hope Probe is the Arab world's first interplanetary mission.
论文中,天问一号的科学家指出了国际合作的机会,会“将我们对火星的了解提高到前所未有的水平”。明年,不仅是天问一号和恒心漫游者会到达地球,还有刚爆炸了的阿拉伯联合国的Hope探测器。Hope探测器是阿拉伯世界(Arab world)的第一个行星际任务。

Scientists working for NASA and China's space agency have enjoyed a collegiate relationship in the past. They've collaborated on the International Space Station, and congratulated each other on successful missions, such as China's landing of a probe on the far side of the Moon, the first country to ever do so.
过去,为NASA和中国航天局工作的科学家们一直享有校际关系。他们在国际空间站上进行合作,并对彼此能成功完成任务表示祝贺,例如中国是史上第一个将探测器落在月球另一端的国家。

But for all the insistence of those involved to the contrary, the space race is inescapably political. NASA's early missions, particularly its historic landing of humans on the Moon in 1969, were fueled by the Cold War rivalry between Washington and the Soviet Union.
尽管有人与之相反地认为,太空竞赛不可避免是政治性的。NASA的早期任务,特别是1969年人类在月球上的历史性着落,则得益于华盛顿和苏联之间的冷战。

这张摄于2020年7月17日的照片显示,在中国海南文昌市计划发射之前,正在转移长征5号的火箭

This photo taken on July 17, 2020 shows a Long March 5 rocket being transferred before a planned launch in Wenchang in China's southern Hainan province.

Beijing, for its part, is well aware of the potential prestige it could gain by outstripping the US in space. If Tianwen-1 is successful, it has plans to eventually send a manned mission to Mars.
就中国而言,它深知,在探索太空方面超越美国,可以带来的潜在声望。如果“天问一号”成功,它计划最终会发送载人任务去火星。

As well as the Mars mission, Beijing is also planning to launch a permanent space station by 2022, and is looking at sending a manned probe to the Moon possibly in the 2030s.
除火星任务外,中国还计划在2022年前发射一个永久性的空间站,并正考虑在2030年代向月球发射一个载人探测器。

This program is building on the findings from China's recent missions to the Moon, particularly the Yutu rovers, the first of which had to abandon its mission half way into the three-month timescale due to a breakdown. Yutu-2, which landed on the far-side of the Moon last year, has been a huge success.
该计划是基于中国最近对月球的飞行任务,特别是“玉兔”漫游者的发现而建立的,由于故障,其中的第一个不得不在三个月的时程中途,就放弃了飞行任务。去年降落在月球另一端的玉兔2号取得了巨大的成功。

"Our overall goal is that, by around 2030, China will be among the major space powers of the world," Wu Yanhua, deputy chief of the National Space Administration, said in 2016.
国家航天局副局长吴彦华在2016年表示: “我们的总体目标是到2030年左右,中国将成为世界上主要的航天大国。”

图:NASA恒心漫游者在火星上的渲染图。该探测器定于2021年2月到达这颗红色星球。

A rendering of NASA's Perseverance rover on Mars. The probe is due to arrive at the red planet in February 2021.


Mission to Mars
火星任务


China came late to the space race. And while it has made incredible strides in recent decades, outpacing NASA — at least in terms of bragging rights, if not scientifically — would require something spectacular, like landing a human on Mars.
中国很晚才参与进太空的竞争。尽管它在近几十年来取得了令人难以置信的进步,但要超越NASA,还需要一些壮举,例如使人类登上火星。

But there is a reason that since 1972, all space exploration has been carried out by robots. Not only are they cheaper, they're also far longer-lasting and more durable: No country wants to be the first to have an astronaut die on another planet.
但有个原因是,自1972年以来,所有的太空探索活动都是由机器人进行。不仅因为它们更便宜,而且它们的使用寿命更长,更耐用:没有哪个国家愿意成为第一个在另一个星球上让宇航员死亡的人。

Landing robotic probes on Mars is hard enough, given the planet's atmospheric conditions. Getting a human there safely might be next to impossible.
考虑到地球的大气条件,在火星上着陆机器人探针已足够困难。安全地将人员运送到火星更是几乎不可能的。

But this hasn't stopped politicians speculating about a manned mission to the red planet. Early in his term, US President Donald Trump authorized NASA to "lead an innovative space exploration program to send American astronauts back to the moon, and eventually Mars."
但是,这并没有阻止政客们猜测有人对这颗红色星球执行任务。任期初期,美国总统唐纳德·特朗普(Donald Trump)就授权NASA “领导一项创新的太空探索计划,将美国宇航员送到月球,最后再送到火星”。