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People's Daily Online>>Science

Failure of mission hits Mars research

By Cheng Yingqi and Xin Dingding (China Daily)

08:12, January 20, 2012

BEIJING - The loss of China's first interplanetary probe, attached to an ill-fated Russian spacecraft, has cost scientists the chance to conduct breakthrough research on Mars, a top scientist said.

New objectives must now be considered for a Mars exploration mission, probably in 2016, said Wu Ji, director-general of the National Space Science Center under the Chinese Academy of Sciences, in an exclusive interview with China Daily.

Yinghuo-1, launched in November two years later than originally planned from Kazakhstan on a Russian spacecraft, crashed into the Pacific Ocean on Monday.

The Russian Phobos-Grunt spacecraft the probe hitchhiked on failed to fire two booster engines that would have set it on course for the Red Planet. No reason was given for the failure of the booster engines.

Wu said that the failure cost the center a chance to conduct research and come up with breakthrough findings before their counterparts in the United States.

"We had hoped that the micro-satellite could help us discover something about the atmosphere on Mars," Wu said.

The US will send a probe to Mars in 2013, he added.

As China's first probe to Mars, the Yinghuo-1 mission had been expected to explore the Red Planet's environment, climate history and look into why water had vanished from the surface, he said.

Those specific objectives were selected by the center in 2006 to differentiate China's mission from those of other countries. "Previous missions mainly focused on whether there is water and life on the planet, consequently humans have limited knowledge of the Martian atmosphere," he said.

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Leave your comment2 comments

  1. Name

wende at 2012-01-2071.255.83.*
I can"t understand why the Mars probe had to be carried by a Russian spacecraft. Can"t China do it on its own?
Canada at 2012-01-2070.36.49.*
Hopefully Russia can determine if the U.S. is the cause of the mission failure.

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