After a successful excursion to the far side of the moon, China is now planning to send a probe to Mars next year. It has plans of landing a rover on the red planet.
“Over the past 60 years, we’ve made a lot of progress, but we’ve still got a huge gap to fill compared to other powerful nations and their space programs. We must speed up our pace,” said Wu Weiren, chief designer of China’s lunar exploration program. “Next year, we will launch a Mars probe, which will orbit around Mars, land on it and explore it.”
This year, China is also preparing to launch Chang’e 5 in order to collect samples from the moon’s surface. If everything goes as planned, China may become the third country in the world to collect moon samples after the United States and Russia.
As for China’s ongoing space exploration, the rover Jade Rabbit 2 as a part of the Chang’e 4’s mission is still exploring the far side of the moon. But due to the extreme atmospheric conditions, the rover has to go into hibernation from time to time in order to stay in good condition for further exploration.
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“Due to the moon’s rotation and revolution, a lunar night is about 14 days long. This causes the temperature on the moon to fall to 190 degrees Celsius, a critically low temperature unfit for all components, parts, and electronics,” Wu said. “So we let it sleep for a while, ensuring it can spend the night safely. A few days ago, it woke up automatically and started to work again. Currently, it is in normal condition.”
Wu explained that the probe was currently headed northwest of its original landing site, adding, “We’ve gained a lot of data in the past few days, and we are going to reveal the data to the world.”
According to Xinhua News Agency, China is planning four deep space exploration missions before 2030, including probes to Mars, Jupiter, and various asteroids.
Featured photo credit to Xinhua News Agency