China will launch its first mission to Mars in July 2020 aboard a Long March 5 Y4 rocket, with a probe that will land on the red planet and deploy an explorer vehicle.
This mission adds to the ESA and Rosmocos 2020 Exomars rover and NASA's Mars 2020. The three take advantage of the moment of closeness between Mars and Earth, which reduces the trip to about seven months.
The news was announced by the China Youth Journal, citing the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation. This is the first time the country has revealed the launch month of its Martian exploration program, Xinhua reports.
The objective of the mission will be, first, to find out if there is life on Mars, current or past, to inquire about its origin and the degree of habitability of the planet. A second task will be the geological study, the distribution of water ice, the composition of the surface and the internal structure. The third goal will be to explore possibilities for long-term transformation and placement of a second habitat for humans.
This new mission is designed to examine the atmosphere, landscape, geological and magnetic characteristics of the red planet, which could provide clues about the origin and evolution of Mars and the solar system, according to Ye Jianpei, chief scientist of Space Science and Deep Space Exploration of the Academy of Space Technology of China.
The Long March-5 Y4 rocket recently conducted a 100-second test of its high-thrust hydrogen-oxygen engine, which is the last test of the engine before final assembly.
In 2020, the rocket will carry out several missions such as the launch of the Martian probe and the sending of a lunar robotic mission whose objective is to bring samples to Earth.
Also, during 2020 a total of 24 high-thrust hydrogen and oxygen engine tests are scheduled for these missions.
Digital Newspaper El Espectador