China unveils its 2020 Mars probe

CCTV News

On Tuesday, China unveiled designs for the country’s first Mars probe and rover, along with details of the scientific instruments to be sent with it. Meanwhile, China also launched a global search for the project’s name.

CCTV America’s Roee Ruttenberg reports.

China unveils its 2020 Mars probe

China unveils its 2020 Mars probe

On Tuesday, China unveiled designs for the country's first Mars probe and rover, along with details of the scientific instruments to be sent with it. Roee Ruttenbrg has more.

The country’s first journey to the red planet hopes to orbit, land and probe the planet in a single mission. 

The mission will launch on a Long March 5 rocket from the South China’s Wenchang spaceport in Hainan Island in summer 2020. After around seven months and 400m kilometres (250m miles), the mission will attempt to enter Mars orbit, before landing and commencing the exploratory aspects of the mission.

Liu Jizhong, the mission’s deputy director said they have also started a global search for the mission’s name and logo, hoping to gain further public appreciation of the program and to establish a better image for China. 

China's Mars 2020 lander using thrusters for landing. (Xinhua)

China’s Mars 2020 lander using thrusters for landing. (Xinhua)

Zhang Rongqiao, the general designer of China’s first Mars probe, said the Mars program will study the planet’s climate, surface, ionosphere, water ice distribution, internal structure, topography and physical field.

China's 2020 lander, rover and deployment system. (Xinhua)

China’s 2020 lander, rover and deployment system. (Xinhua)

Zhang added they will have to design a rover that can make its own decisions because the distance between Earth and Mars will cause delays in data transmission.

At the same time, the rover would be facing power supply challenges because Mars’ atmosphere would block out sunlight, said Zhang.

But he added that despite the challenges, “we are determined to make it a success.”

“We are confident we will overcome those technical challenges since we have learned from the previous Mars explorations of other countries and China’s space experience, especially the Chang’e lunar probe,” Peking University space science professor Jiao Weixin said.

Jiao also said he’s concerned no specific scientific research targets have yet been disclosed.

Artist impression of China's 2020 Mars rover.

Artist impression of China’s 2020 Mars rover.

“It would be a waste of time and resources to repeat what other countries have done,” said Jiao, adding that “we need to come up with specific research goals, like our European and U.S. counterparts did. ”

A favorable alignment of Earth and Mars occurs for only a few weeks every 26 months, and the year 2020 will offer that rare opportunity, National Space Administration director Xu Dazhe told the Xinhua News Agency in April.

Story by Global Times.