2020 Mars Mission: China Unveils Design, Images Of Its Probe And Rover

First Posted: Aug 26, 2016 08:43 AM EDT

The Chinese State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defence on tuesday released images and designs of a probe and rover of China's first mission to Mars. As part of the announcement in Beijing, the authorities also launched a public competition to come up with a name and logo for the voyager.

The ambitious mission is scheduled to be launched in mid-2020 from the Wenchang Satellite Launch Centre in the southern Chinese province of Hainan, although the spacecraft will not reach Mars till 2021, International Business Times reported.

Zhang Rongqiao, chief architect of the project, said on Tuesday that they were targeting July or August, emphasizing the difficulties of the project: "The challenges we face are unprecedented," a report quoted him saying.

What we know about the mission so far

The Rover, powered by four solar panels will weigh around 200kg and would have six wheels with which it will navigate the Martian surface for three months. The aim of the mission is to examine the distribution of water and ice on the planet's surface, as well as analysing its inner structure. The probe will carry 13 different devices including a remote-sensing camera and a ground-penetrating radar, to study the soil, environment and atmosphere, according to Xinhua and other Chinese media reports.

"The lander will separate from the orbiter at the end of a journey of around seven months and touchdown in a low latitude area in the northern hemisphere of Mars where the rover will explore the surface," the Xinhua report said.

Earlier this month China launched the world's first quantum enabled satellite, while it's Jade Rabbit lunar rover ceased operations after more than two and a half years exploring the Moon's surface. In addition, it has also recently built the world's largest radio telescope, designed to explore space and search for alien life.

China's first attempt to send a satellite into Mars orbit floundered in 2011 when the Russian rocket carrying the payload failed to make it out of the Earth's orbit. China would, however, be the fifth country or grouping to orbit Mars, behind the US, Russia/USSR, Europe and India, according to BBC.

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