China has joined the extremely exclusive club of countries that are planning to send rovers to Mars in the near future. The lunar probe and space project center of the Chinese State Administration of Science,Technology and Industry for National Defense has released pictures of a planned probe that will leave for the red planet in approximately 5 years.
The dragon is planning to land its spacecraft to orbit Mars by 2020. However, its ambitions are not limited to just reaching the planet and a landing and rover deployment are also in plans. Commenting on the difficulties they encountered, Zhang Rongqiao, chief architect of the Mars mission said that the difficulties encountered during the project were “Unprecedented”.
The very nature of the mission means that no exact schedule has been laid out yet, however, we may be looking at a July or August schedule. The probe and the rover is likely to be launched on a Long March-5 carrier rocket from the Wenchang space launch center in south China’s Hainan province.
The journey between the planets is expected to take around 7 months. The probe will then touch down in a low latitude area in the northern hemisphere of Mars following which, the rover will explore the surface and perhaps collect and analyze samples. The rover will also come equipped with solar panels that will let it explore the planet for a period of up to three months.
Also part of the voyage will be a total of 13 payloads. These will include a remote sensing camera and a ground penetrating radar, making analysis and collection of samples almost a certainty. Meanwhile, the devices could be used to study the soil, environment, and atmosphere of Mars. The rover itself weighs in at around 200 Kgs, which may be one of the reasons behind the “unprecedented” part. After all, carting that much weight to Mars, situated at a distance of around 228 million miles from the Sun, is no mean feat.
Meanwhile, China is moving along upon its path to conquer space. The country recently launched a supremely interesting quantum-enabled satellite that will enable it to test communications technology. The attempt is likely to make China the third country in the world to land a probe on Mars. Although US is the only country to make a successful landing on the red planet, however, a joint European-Russian mission is already on its way and may well land on Mars before that.
Well, let’s keep our fingers crossed for some water this time!