China preparing to send a probe to Mars in 2020

China preparing to send a probe to Mars in 2020

PanARMENIAN.Net - China will follow up on its successful mission to the far side of the moon by sending a probe to Mars next year, one of the country's top space scientists said Sunday, march 3, CNN reports.

Speaking ahead of the opening of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), a major political event in Beijing, Wu Weiren, chief designer of China's lunar exploration program, said the red planet was the natural next step.

"Over the past 60 years, we've made a lot of achievements, but there is still a large distance from the world space powers. We must speed up our pace," he said. "Next year, we will launch a Mars probe, which will orbit around the Mars, land on it and probe it."

China will also send an additional probe to the Moon, which will take samples from the surface and return to Earth. If successful, it will become only the third country to have completed such a task, after the United States and Russia.

Wu's comments came as a Mars simulation base opened in Qinghai's Qaidam Basin, a hyper-arid region in western China that is the highest desert on Earth and long considered one of the best parallels with the Martian surface on Planet Earth.

According to the state-run Global Times, the new simulation base cost $22.3 million to build and covers an area of 53,330 square meters. It can accommodate 60 people in its capsules and hundreds in tents around the base.

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