(Yicai Global) Aug. 12 -- China plans to send a probe to Mars around the year 2020 to orbit, land and explore the surface of the red planet, something never done before, the People's Daily reported.
"Unlike India's Mangalyaan probe, which just orbits Mars' equator, China's first Mars probe will fly around Mars on a wide elliptical orbit to observe the planet globally," the report said, citing Mr. Ye Peijian, a member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and adviser to the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation's Fifth Institute's Mars project. "In addition, the lander will carry a rover to land on Mars, and the rover will 'walk' on the planet."
ExoMars probe-2016, jointly developed by Russia and the European Space Agency, launched successfully this March and will detect methane levels in the atmosphere of the planet and test landing technology. In 2020, Russia will work with ESA on ExoMars probe-2020.
India became the first Asian country to explore Mars after launching Mangalyaan, its first probe, in November 2013. Mangalyaan spent 20 days in Earth's orbit gaining speed through repeated thruster ignitions. The probe is designed to study Mars' surface, atmosphere and mineral characteristics, as well as search for methane deposits and signs of life.