Here’s another participant in the race towards Mars. China has reaffirmed its plan to send country’s first lander to the red planet as soon as 2020, and the plans were revealed in a white paper released this week. The new paper lays also entail ambitious plans to explore the solar system through a host of space missions by the end of the decade.
This mission would make China only the second country ever to successfully land a probe on Mars. The plans also include,
“further studies and key technological research on the bringing back of samples from Mars, asteroid exploration, exploration of the Jupiter system and planet fly-by exploration,” as quoted by the white paper.
“When conditions allow, related projects will be implemented to conduct research into major scientific questions such as the origin and evolution of the solar system, and search for extraterrestrial life.”
Adding to the increased extraterrestrial activity, China is also aiming for the moon and hopes to send a lander to the far side of the body by 2018. It also has a mission planned in 2017 which involves a spacecraft sending samples of the lunar surface back to Earth.
While China is looking to make up for their lack of presence in the avenues of space exploration, Mars isn’t an easy target for anyone. Case in point the recent crash of the lander developed by the European Space Agency and Russia. This statement is reinstated by the fact that only seven lander or rover missions to Mars have been successful, all of them being launched by the United States.
ESA and Russians are also to send their missions to the red planet in 2020, along with NASA aiming to send a rover to the Martian surface, meaning the planet is going to see some high traffic in 2020.
SpaceX has also announced some mission in 2020, but the timing isn’t a coincidence. In 2020, Mars and Earth will favorably align, which will make launching a mission possibly a more fruitful venture.