China eyes Mars exploration 01-05-2004 09:30

Chinese scientists also have their sights set on the Red Planet. They've been working on their ambitious plan to undertake Mars exploration in about twenty years. Their goal is to make China a leading force in international space science.

The Chinese Academy of Sciences has worked out a detailed Mars exploration report and is waiting for the central government to approve its inclusion in the country's science development strategy.

The report says China will launch its own Mars exploration satellite between 2015 and 2020.

Liu Zhenxing with Chinese Academy of Sciences said: "China's Mars exploration will be undertaken in several steps. The first step is a Mars-orbiting probe. The next will be landing on Mars. The third will be to put a permanent observation station on the surface of Mars. The final step will be the retrieval of space craft."

The key objective of China's Mars plan is to compare characteristics of the Earth and the Red Planet. This will contribute to studies on the Earth's future.

Scientists from the Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics have developed China's own Mars probe, "Mars Explorer". The probe is modeled after NASA's "Mars Ranger". Although it is still a prototype with many details simplified, scientists will continue to develop a fully-functional version.


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