China Wants to Send a Rover to Mars in 2020
China plans to send a rover to Mars in 2020, according to the country’s state-run news agency Xinhua.
On Tuesday, China unveiled a gold-colored model of the rover in Shanghai during the China International Industry Fair where the country showcases its latest technology.
Beijing claims the model is a third the size of the actual spacecraft. The orbiter and landing rover portions were used to demonstrate how the craft will reach Mars and then function on the Red Planet’s surface.
Niu Shengda, a satellite scientist with the Shanghai Academy of Spaceflight Technology, told CNN the rover’s main mission will be to conduct a remote sensing and a surface landing.
Experts warn the biggest challenge would be to maintaining communications between the probe and its operators back on earth, where they will sit up to 400 million kilometers away – 900 times the distance between Earth and the moon. That distance can seriously disrupt signals.
According to Xinhua, it would take about 40 minutes for the rover to get in touch with the earth-bound command station.
China also announced that in 2020, it plans to become the first country to launch a spacecraft into the “dark side of the moon.”
Two years ago, China sent its first unmanned lunar probe to the moon as part of its Chang’e-3 mission. In 2017, China will conduct the third phase of its lunar exploration mission by sending the Chang’e-5 spacecraft to the moon for soil-sample collection.
Last September, NASA scientists revealed they had found liquid water on the surface of Mars, sparking speculations about the presence of life there..