China Will Explore Mars In 2020

Render of China’s Mars 2020 rover ahead of deployment. Credit: CNSA/Xinhua

The academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences told a Chinese news outlet on July 7 that China will explore Mars next year with a satellite, a lander and a rover.

“We will take on Mars from space and its surface, and we have finished the rover,” said Ouyang Ziyuan, academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

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The exploration is planned for next year as that is the soonest possible launch time. Probes can only be launched when there is a certain angle between Mars and Earth, as the periods of revolution for Earth and Mars are different. Otherwise, probes from Earth can’t make it to Mars.

“Why not do it? You can’t launch Mars probes anytime you want, because you can only get a chance every 26 months. If you lose the chance, then sorry, you have to wait for two years and two months,”

Out of 45 times when humans explored Mars, they were only successful on 18 occasions, according to Ouyang. What scientists have been trying to figure out is mainly the possibility that life exists on Mars, including if there is or was life, what conditions and circumstances are there for life, and the origins of life.

Life can only exist if there is water. Drained riverbeds on Mars indicate that water did exist. Although only salt is left on Mars’ surface, Chinese scientists want to figure out the distribution of Mars’ underground water.

If the plan works, Chinese scientists would also research Mars’ magnetic layer, ionized layer and atmosphere. The third goal is to discuss the possibility of modifying Mars to be humanity’s second home. “We have to find a planet to see if it can be turned into the second earth, where human beings can immigrate. The only possibility is Mars as for now,” said Ouyang.