China To Send Rover To Mars Next Year, Following Lunar Mission Success

China plans to launch its own Mars rover in 2020

China seems to be gearing up to send a probe to Mars next year, confirmed a top scientist of the agency. China's increasingly ambitious lunar program will see them close the gap between space pioneers USA and Russian Federation, as they will become just the third nation to bring samples from the Moon back to Earth.

A concept heavy-lift carrier rocket, with a takeoff weight of about 4,000 tonnes and a diameter of 10 meters, is the proposed launch vehicle for missions beyond 2030, to bring samples from the red planet and send taikonauts to the moon, according to Xinhua. China will become the third country that is capable of such a task after the United States and Russian Federation. 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 our own planet. It can accommodate 60 people in its capsules and hundreds in tents around the base. With four more lunar probes, Chang'e 5, 6, 7 and 8, set to launch in the coming years, China wants to transport samples taken from the Moon back to Earth, explore the South side of the Moon and also lay technological groundwork for a planned base on the Moon. During this mission, China even sprouted a cotton seed on the lunar atmosphere, thus proclaiming the country's presence in the space race.

China has successfully launched six crewed mission into space and launched two space labs into Earth's orbit, since 2003. Whenever the lunar night comes, which lasts 14 days, the rover enters hibernation mode to protect itself and its components from the freezing temperatures, according to Wu. During these dark stretches, temperatures on the moon's surface can drop to minus 310 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 190 degrees Celsius), "a temperature that all components, parts and electronic components cannot stand", Wu explained. "Currently, it is in normal condition". "So, we let it sleep for a while, ensuring it to spend the night safely".

China will gradually open data collected by the Chang'e-4 lunar probe to the world, the country's lunar program chief designer said.

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