At the exhibition stand of China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation, the Mars probe, which is in golden color, is placed in the center of the exhibition area on Nov. 2, 2015, and the engineers are preparing it for the next day's display. (Photo/Xinhua)
China plans to launch a probe satellite to Mars in July or August of 2020, according to Wan Weixing, an academician at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, on March 6.
Wan is the chief scientist of China's Mars exploration program. He explained that China officially approved its first Mars exploration mission early last year. Before that, feasibility studies for the mission were carried out, and its scientific goals and basic plans were confirmed. Relevant work on satellite probes, ground data application, rocket launches, and monitoring and control systems have been started as well.
China's first Mars mission is poised to achieve breakthroughs in key technologies like orbiting, landing and inspection. The mission will also kick off comprehensive exploration and high-precision scientific probes of the planet. Research will cover the surface, atmosphere and underground environments of Mars, in addition to the space around the planet. Scientists will use the data to delve into the origin and evolution of the solar system and the search for external life.
According to Wan, the probe satellite will arrive on Mars about seven months after its launch, and will send back data in 2021. The designed life expectancy of the satellite is one Martian year, or about two years on Earth.