China is looking to land on the surface of Mars in 2020.
China became not long ago the first nation to successfully perform a soft landing on the far side of the Moon, as its Chang’e 4 mission managed to touch down on the lunar surface pointing away from the Earth.
In addition to the lander which has already gathered a plethora of scientific data on the lunar surface, the Chinese deployed a rover to explore the terrain surrounding the lander.
By doing so, they made history.
Now it seems, the Chinese space agency wants more. Their next goal is Mars.
According to reports, China is planning to launch its first mission to the Martian surface as early as July 2020. The exploratory mission will see a Long March rocket carry a probe and lander to the surface of the red planet.
The Long-March-5 liquid carrier rocket is China’s strongest rocket with a payload capacity of 25 tons in low orbit and 15 tons in geostationary transfer orbit.
Reports suggest that The Long March- rocket recently conducted a 100-second test of its high-thrust hydrogen-oxygen engine, which is the ultimate engine test before the final assembly.
The rocket will be used to carry out several missions in 2020 such as the launch of the Martian probe and the transportation of another lunar mission whose objective is to bring samples back to Earth.
The Chinese mission adds to the 2020 Exomars mission and NASA’s Mars 2020 rover.
The Chinese Mars mission was announced by the China Youth Journal, citing the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation.
This is the first time the country has revealed the launch month of its Martian exploration program, Xinhua reports.
According to reports, the primary objective of the mission will be to find out if there is currently life on Mars or if there ever was. If there is life on Mars, the Chinese mission will look into its origins, while also looking into the degree of habitability of the planet.
A second task will be a geological study, the distribution of water ice, the composition of the surface, and the internal structure.
The third task will be to explore possibilities of long-term transformation and the construction of a permanent human base on its surface.
The Chinese Mars mission is also designed to examine the atmosphere, landscape, geological and magnetic characteristics of the red planet, which could provide clues about the origin and evolution of Mars and the solar system, according to Ye Jianpei, chief scientist of Space Science and Deep-space Exploration with the Chinese Space Technology Academy.
“Mars exploration is very innovative. If it proves to be a success, it will be the world’s first time a country completes the three tasks in one mission,” Ye explained.
The Martian 2020 Mission will take place in July of 2020 as scientists are looking to take advantage of “Mars opposition” when the Red Planet is particularly close to Earth. Scientists are looking for the explorer to travel the shortest distance as possible, which means lower fuel consumption.