China's maiden mission to Mars to carry 13 payloads, including six rovers

China plans to send a spacecraft to orbit, land and deploy a rover on Mars in 2020.

China's Mars probe will carry 13 types of payloads, including six rovers, in its first mission to the red planet scheduled for 2020, as Beijing aims to catch up with the US, India and Russia.

Chinas maiden mission to Mars to carry 13 payloads, including six rovers

Mars. Image: NASA.

"The Mars exploration programme is well underway," said Zhang Rongqiao, chief architect of the Mars mission at the Beijing International Forum on Lunar and Deep-space Exploration, which opened today. "The payloads will be used to collect data on the environment, morphology, surface structure and atmosphere of Mars," Zhang was quoted as saying by the state-run Xinhua news agency.

China looks to catch up with India, the US and Russia in sending probes to Mars. China plans to send a spacecraft to orbit, land and deploy a rover on Mars in 2020. The probe will be launched on a Long March-5 carrier rocket from the Wenchang space launch center in southern Chinas Hainan Province.

The lander will separate from the orbiter at the end of a journey of around seven months and touch down in a low latitude area in the northern hemisphere of Mars where the rover will explore the surface. India's low-cost Mars spacecraft completed 1,000 Earth days in its orbit in June this year, well beyond its designed mission life of six months or 180 days.

India had on September 24, 2014 successfully placed the spacecraft in the orbit around the Mars in its very first attempt, joining an elite club of countries with expertise in space technology.

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