MarsNews.com
May 29th, 2019

China’s first Mars spacecraft undergoing integration for 2020 launch

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

China remains on schedule to ready its first independent mission to Mars in time for a short launch window in mid-2020, according to a leading space official.

“Mars 2020 mission spacecraft is undergoing integration,” Wang Chi, director of the National Space Science Center (NSSC) in Beijing, told SpaceNews in a rare update on the mission.

Ambitiously, the mission consists of both an orbiter and a rover, with a total of 13 science payloads. The NSSC will be involved in integration of the instruments with the spacecraft.

The orbiter will be equipped with a high-resolution camera comparable to HiRise on board NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, a medium-resolution camera, subsurface radar, minearology spectrometer, neutral and energetic particle analyzers and a magnetometer.

The 240-kilogram solar-powered rover, nearly twice the mass of China’s Yutu lunar rovers, will carry a ground-penetrating radar, multispectral camera, a Laser Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy instrument and payloads for detecting the climate and magnetic environment.

Meanwhile, the Academy of Aerospace Propulsion Technology, an institute under main space contractor the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), this month completed testing of a variable thrust engine, capable of 7,500 Newtons of thrust, which will provide the majority of deceleration for the landing.

Two preliminary landing areas have been selected. The first is Chryse Planitia, close to the landing sites of NASA’s Viking 1 and Pathfinder, with the second covering Isidis Planitia and stretches to the western edge of the Elysium Mons region, between the landing sites of Curiosity and Viking 2.

January 14th, 2019

China aims for 2020 Mars mission after lunar success

China’s Chang’e-4 probe makes historic landing on moon’s far side

China is aiming to send a spacecraft to Mars next year, following its successful mission to the far side of the moon.

Lunar rover Jade Rabbit 2 and explorer Chang’e 4 landed on the moon in recent days and have now taken pictures of each other for scientists to study.

Officials at the Chinese space agency say they now plan to send a probe to Mars in 2020 and aim to follow that up with manned missions to the planet.

December 3rd, 2018

Five planned missions to Mars

An artist’s impression of SpaceX’s Starship and Super Heavy Rocket. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

Space agencies around the world are set to explore the red planet, while Elon Musk has even grander plans.