China announces Mars mission probe for 2020 launch

BEIJING, Aug. 24 (UPI) — China disclosed plans to deploy a mission probe and rover to Mars by 2020.

In the announcement made Wednesday, Beijing stated the goal is for the mission to land on Mars by 2021, the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party, according to state-owned news agency Xinhua.

The State Administration for Science Technology and Industry for National Defense unveiled the design for the space probe and rover.

A state-sponsored competition for the best name and logo for the mission is also under way, the BBC reported.

The new project is expected to be one of China’s top three space projects to date.

In 2007, China launched Chang’e-1, an unmanned lunar-orbiting spacecraft. Named after the Chinese Moon goddess, Chang’e-1 entered lunar orbit in November, but was taken out of orbit in 2009.

China is also expected to place a larger modular station into orbit by 2022 or 2023 as part of its Tiangong space station program.

Beijing has been making progress in other areas, launching a new quantum-enabled satellite on Aug. 16. Earlier in August, its Jade Rabbit rover shut down after 31 months of operation on the Moon’s surface.

China plans to have the 2020 mission send back data on Mars’ soil, atmosphere and other environmental factors.

Mars is located about 250 million miles from Earth. So far the United States, Russia, the European Union and India are the only countries and confederations that have sent a spacecraft to the red planet.



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