An image released by China’s space program shows the rover it plans to land on Mars in 2020. With equipment including a remote sensing camera and ground penetrating radar, it will embark on a three-month exploratory mission of the planet’s surface. Photo: Xinhua
China on Tuesday released images of a Mars probe and rover which the country plans to send to the Red Planet within five years.
China plans to send a spacecraft to orbit Mars, make a landing, and deploy a rover in July or August 2020, said Zhang Rongqiao, chief architect of the Mars mission at a press conference in Beijing. "The challenges we face are unprecedented."
According to Ye Peijian, one of China's leading aerospace experts and a consultant to the program, the 2020 mission will be launched on a Long March-5 carrier rocket from the Wenchang space launch center in south China's Hainan province.
The lander will separate from the orbiter at the end of a journey of around seven months and touch down in a low latitude area in the northern hemisphere of Mars where the rover will explore the surface.
Images displayed at Tuesday's press conference showed a device with six wheels, powered by four solar panels, two more than the rover sent to the moon.
Weighing around 200 kilograms, it is designed to operate for three Martian months, according to Sun Zezhou, chief designer of the probe.
The probe, for its part, will carry 13 payloads including a remote sensing camera and a ground penetrating radar which could be used to study the soil, environment, and atmosphere of Mars, as well as the planet's physical fields, the distribution of water and ice, and its inner structure.
A public competition for the name and the logo of the 2020 mission was also launched Tuesday.