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China to detect signs of life on Mars in 2020

(People's Daily Online)    14:32, July 15, 2019

The concept image of China's Mars probe. (Photo/Xinhua)

China will detect signs of life on Mars within the next year, disclosed Ouyang Ziyuan, chief scientist of China's lunar exploration plan, after he announced the launch of China's first mission to Mars in 2020.

According to him, China will also examine the possibility of setting up a second habitat for humans on the planet during this mission, in a bid to serve the sustained development of humanity.

Ouyang made the remarks at a conference on satellites and space held in Rizhao, east China's Shandong Province on July 8.

A satellite, lander and rover will all be employed in the mission, and the construction of the rover has now been completed, Ouyang said.

Though China is a latecomer in Mars exploration, it boasts a high rate of efficiency. For instance, the country's plan to realize orbiting, landing and roving the Martian surface in a single mission is unprecedented in history. Only the US has completed orbiting and landing at the same time in a single mission to Mars.

So far, 46 explorations to Mars have been conducted, while only 20.5 have been successful. As a result, Mars is called a "spacecraft graveyard."

Though it is challenging to explore Mars, China has made substantial preparations. Its previous lunar exploration missions have also laid an important foundation technology-wise.

First of all, the country's heavy-lift rocket Long March-5 can send the probe to the planet. In addition, China has set up a deep space station for telemetry, tracking, and command which has monitored over 100 million kilometers of lunar probe Chang' e 2's journey.

Besides, the success of China's lunar missions has boosted the country's development in landing and roving technologies.

Former exploration has proven the existence of ancient river beds on the surface of Mars, indicating that rivers previously existed on the planet. However, no trace of water has ever been found on the surface of Mars, Ouyang said, adding that China is planning to survey the distribution of underground water on Mars.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Hongyu, Liang Jun)

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