China targets 2020 Mars mission launch: official

April 22, 2016

Mars
Credit: NASA
China plans to send a rover to Mars to explore the Red Planet, a top space official announced on Friday, in the latest step of its ambitious space programme.

Authorities approved the mission in January, said National Space Administration director Xu Dazhe told a press conference in Beijing, according to a transcript.

The aim was to launch around 2020, he said, calling the timing "a challenge" that would be "a giant leap" for the country's space capabilities.

"What we want to achieve is to Mars, land, and deploy the rover in one mission, which will be quite difficult to achieve."

China is pouring billions into its space programme and working to catch up with the US and Europe, but has already been beaten to Mars by Asian neighbour India, which put a low-cost probe into orbit around the Red Planet in September 2014.

Once on the Martian surface, Xu said, the Chinese rover could study the planet's soil, atmosphere, environment, and look for traces of water.

"Researching these matters is really researching humanity itself and the origins of life," he said, adding: "Only by completing this Mars probe mission can China say it has truly embarked on the exploration of deep space."

China has an ambitious, military-run, multi-billion-dollar space programme that Beijing sees as symbolising the country's progress and a marker of its rising global stature.

China's recent efforts have been focused on exploring the moon. The nation's first lunar rover—the Yutu, or Jade Rabbit—was launched in late 2013, but it has since been beset by mechanical troubles.

By 2018, the country aims to land its Chang'e-4 probe—named for the moon goddess in Chinese mythology—on the dark side of the moon.

But for the most part it has so far replicated activities that the US and Soviet Union pioneered decades ago.

The US has landed two rovers on Mars and the former Soviet Union and the European Space Agency have also sent missions to Mars.

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.

Explore further: China researchers plan Mars mission 'around 2020'

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Steve 200mph Cruiz
3.4 / 5 (5) Apr 22, 2016
Maybe when the Chinese discover life on mars, they can blend it up and sell it as a cure for headaches and erectile dysfunction.
obama_socks
1 / 5 (3) Apr 22, 2016
A lady who used to comment on this site had said that she found life forms in the photos sent back to NASA by the HiRise camera that's on board the MRO. She left the link to her website in one of the Phys.org threads back then. I can't find that web address now. When I checked her link at the time, it seemed to me that the photos she had were 50-50 that there could be life on Mars.
On the chance that there are life forms on Mars that may be hostile I think that the Chinese should be the first to send their own people there to scope out the place, just in case.

We already have our rovers scoping out Mars, so it's not like China would be the first to land their own rovers. But why should OUR astronauts go there just to die from strange bacteria or big life forms that might want to eat them. I would prefer to err on the side of caution. And no, I'm not being racist.
obama_socks
1 / 5 (3) Apr 22, 2016
The point is that humans have built up an immunity to certain bacterial and viral life forms on Earth. Adaptation gave humans the abilities to ward off certain toxins, etc., so that human immunological factors may not work very well, or at all, in the Martian environment.
Chinese astronauts, when they arrive on Mars and, after a certain amount of time there, may or may not feel any bad health effects, but they will be able to make recommendations whether to continue their exploration directly, or to abandon it.
Hopefully, the rovers that they send will be better equipped than American rovers to detect life and not just gases and geology.
blengi
3 / 5 (1) Apr 23, 2016
sojourner,spirit,opportunity,curiosity ≠ The US has landed two rovers on Mars
ScottyB
5 / 5 (1) Apr 25, 2016
Maybe when the Chinese discover life on mars, they can blend it up and sell it as a cure for headaches and erectile dysfunction.


Nice racial slur

But why should OUR astronauts go there just to die from strange bacteria or big life forms that might want to eat them.


Nothing on Mars is going to eat anyone... there is nothing there to eat anyone (yet)

sojourner,spirit,opportunity,curiosity ≠ The US has landed two rovers on Mars

Yes the article mentions the US has already done this.

I say good luck to them, all of humanity should reach for the stars.
Steve 200mph Cruiz
1 / 5 (1) Apr 28, 2016
ScottyB.
The whole reason rhino horn has the market value it does is because of Chinese demand. That is just one species.
They never had an environmental movement there, that's why they live in a dump.
Chinese space travel is a joke, they're entire economy is collapsing and will never be able to recover because they wasted all their natural resources, and they don't have the freedom of thought to adapt their government.

It's not racist, I love Japan and south Korea, but China and south east Asia is a big part of what makes the world a crappy place

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