Nation’s first Mars mission to be launched in 2020

By Deng Xiaoci Source:Global Times Published: 2016/8/24 0:23:40 Last Updated: 2016/8/24 8:45:07

Picture released on Aug. 23, 2016 by lunar probe and space project center of Chinese State Adiministration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defence shows the concept portraying what the Mars rover and lander would look like. Image of China's Mars probe was also released Tuesday. (Xinhua)

China has unveiled the designs for the country's first Mars probe and rover on Tuesday, and launched a global search for the project's name.

Authorities told media the country's first journey to the "red planet" is scheduled for 2020, and hopes to orbit, land and probe the planet in a single mission, considered unprecedented for any country's first Mars mission, reported.

Liu Jizhong, the Mars probe mission's deputy director and also director of the administration's lunar exploration project, said they have also started a global search for the mission's name and logo, hoping to gain further public appreciation of the program and to establish a better image for China.

Zhang Rongqiao, the head of China's first Mars probe, told that the Mars program will study the planet's climate, surface, ionosphere, water ice distribution, internal structure, topography and physical field.

He added they will have to design a rover that can make its own decisions because the distance between Earth and Mars will cause delays in data transmission, Zhang said.

At the same time, the rover would be facing power supply challenges because Mars' atmosphere would block out sunlight, said Zhang.

But he added that despite the challenges, "we are determined to make it a success."

Peking University space science professor Jiao Weixin told the Global Times that "we are confident we will overcome those technical breakthroughs since we have learned from the previous Mars explorations of other countries and China's space experience, especially the Chang'e lunar probe."

Jiao also said he's concerned no specific scientific research targets have yet been disclosed.

"It would be a waste of time and resources to repeat what other countries have done," said Jiao, adding that "we need to come up with specific research goals, like our European and US counterparts did. "

A favorable alignment of Earth and Mars occurs for only a few weeks every 26 months, and 2020 offers that rare opportunity, National Space Administration director Xu Dazhe told the Xinhua News Agency in April.

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