China plans to launch its own Mars rover in 2020

Olive Hawkins
March 7, 2019

Wu Weiren, chief designer of China's lunar exploration program, recently revealed that the country's space program will continue its ambitious space exploration in 2020, with China now planning to send a probe to Mars.

The first attempt of China's to reach Mars would not be this unnamed mission because, a few years ago, in 2011, an orbiter called Yinghuo-1 should have reached the Red Planet, but the craft could not leave the orbit of the Earth.

"We have achieved a lot in China's 60 years of aerospace history, but we are still far behind the great powers of aerospace", Wu said.

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Yutu 2 and the Chang'e 4 lander launched together on December 8, 2018, and on January 2 made the first-ever soft landing on the lunar far side. Weiren made these remarks while speaking ahead of the opening of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC). "It will take samples on the moon surface and return to the Earth". ".China will become the third country that is capable of such task after the United States and Russian Federation". During this mission, China even sprouted a cotton seed on the lunar atmosphere, thus proclaiming the country's presence in the space race. Part of that comes in the form of a new Mars simulation base in arid Qinghai province.

China has managed to send six crews into space since 2003, while also launching two labs into space. Assuming it is successful, the rover would join NASA's still-operational Curiosity and InSight landers. The space agency is also the first to land a rover on the far side of the moon. Progress has been slow going since then: due to the extreme conditions on the far side of the moon, the rover often has to go into hibernation to preserve its capabilities for further exploration, Wu said on Sunday. During these dark stretches, temperatures on the moon's surface can drop to minus 310 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 190 degrees Celsius), "a temperature that all components, parts and electronic components cannot stand", Wu explained. "Currently, it is in normal condition", said Wu. "But please rest assured we will ensure its safety".

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