SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association)- Chinese scientists are planning to send a rover to the surface of Mars, as Beijing pours billions of dollars into its space program to keep up with those of the US and Europe.
Officials from China’s National Space Administration (NSA) have begun preliminary research for a Mars mission that includes launching a rover to the red planet around 2020, the state-run China Daily reported on Tuesday.
“We plan to conduct the Mars mission around 2020, which will include the probe’s orbiting, landing and roaming…. By contrast, other nations will need multiple missions to achieve those three steps,” a space expert with the China Academy of Space Technology, Peng Tao, was quoted by the newspaper as saying.
Chinese space officials said the Mars rover will be larger than China’s first moon rover, the Yutu, or Jade Rabbit, in order to deal with the harsher terrain.
Last week, Beijing revealed prototypes for the Mars rover at the International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition in the southern city of Zhuhai.
In 2011, China failed to send a satellite into Mars’ orbit after the Russian rocket carrying the payload failed to escape the Earth’s orbit.
The US, India, the former Soviet Union and the European Space Agency have all sent missions to Mars.
US space agency NASA has sent a series of robotic vehicles to Mars – the latest being the Curiosity rover launched in 2012 – and hopes to have people exploring the surface of the Earth’s neighboring planet by the 2030s.