Besides Mars, China plans deep space tracking

08:20, January 07, 2011      

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China's space scientists and engineers are aiming high, as they will have a deep space monitoring network in 2016, and launch its first Mars probe in October this year to pave the way for further space explorations.

The 2016 deep space tracking system will consist of two monitoring observations in the northwestern Kashgar, Xinjiang, and northeastern Jiamusi, Heilongjiang Province, and possibly connected with one more tracking station in South America, the Xinhua news agency quoted Qian Weiping, chief designer of the Chang'e-2 mission's tracking and control system, as saying yesterday.

China is also scheduled to launch in October the Mars probe in a joint cooperation mission with Russia after a two-year delay.

The probe, Yinghuo-1, was due to blast off in October 2009 with Russia's "Phobos Explorer" from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan but the launch was postponed. Quoting an unnamed expert at the China Academy of Space Technology, the Xinhua news agency said the blast-off had been pushed back to October this year.

Also, the report said that China planned to launch a Mars probe on its own some time in 2013.

Efforts are being made to upgrade or build deep space monitoring stations in the three locations by equipping them with large-caliber antennas, Qian Weiping was quoted as saying.

He added that the upgrading work in Kashgar and Jiamusi will be completed in 2012 to provide monitoring support for China's lunar orbiters, Chang'e-3 and Chang'e-4, while the monitoring station in South America will be created in 2016 to assist in the lunar orbiters' return to Earth.

According to Chinese media reports, the Mars orbiter is due to probe the Martian space environment with a special focus on what happened to the water that appears to have once been abundant on Mars's surface.

China has already begun probing the moon and this will be the next step in its ambitious space exploration program.

Chinese scientists and engineers have sent the Chang'e 2 orbiting the moon and carrying out various experiments in preparation for the expected 2013 launch of the Chang'e-3, which the scientists hope will be China's first unmanned lunar landing.

By People's Daily Online


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