The first picture of China’s Mars explorer has been unveiled, setting the stage for an ambitious mission the country will launch to the Red Planet next year.
The state run China Global Television Network (CGTV) quoted Ye Jianpei, “The mission is going smoothly”
Chief scientist of Space Science and Deep space Exploration with the Chinese Space Technology Academy said “If no surprise, the China’s Mars explorer is going to be launched in 2020, and land before 2021.”
The image of an encapsulated spacecraft within its cocoon-like aeroshell was issued by the China Aerospace Technology Corporation. Earlier stories by Chinese space officials said the mission includes an orbiter, lander, and a rover.
Ye Jianpei said “The mission is designed to examine the Red Planet’s atmosphere, landscape, geological and magnetic characteristics, which could provide clues to the origin and evolution of Mars and the solar system”.
He further added “China’s Mars exploration is very innovative. If it proves to be a success, it will be the world’s first time a country completes the three tasks in one mission”.
The spacecraft will be sent into geosynchronous orbit to reach Mars via the heavy-lift Long March 5 rocket a booster that is up for another flight to certify it is ready to carry payloads to the moon and Mars.
The Mars probe will have a seven-month flight to the Red Planet. In an August 2016 video, China’s upcoming Mars mission was said to feature an orbiter, lander and a rover.