Beijing launches the first Mars probe in July

China is strengthening its space program by sending a probe and a small remote-controlled robot to the planet Mars for the first time. The operation is scheduled to take place in July.

A first for Beijing. China plans to launch a probe and a small remote-controlled robot to Mars in July, an outstanding mission to the Red Planet, says the project promoter.

The country is investing billions of euros in its space program: it launches satellites, plans to send men to the moon and has just launched a new spacecraft in May.

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“Our goal was to send the probe to Mars sometime in 2020,” said China Aerospace Science and TechnologyCorporation (CASC).

“This big project is progressing as planned and we are aiming for a launch in July,” she said in a statement on Sunday.

A trip of seven months

It would take seven months to cover the distance from Earth to Mars and the Chinese probe will not reach its destination by 2021. The distance is constantly changing but is at least 55 million km.

The Chinese mission is called “Tianwen” (“questions in the sky”) and has three goals: placing a probe in the Martian orbit, landing it on the red planet, and then remotely controlling a robot on the surface to perform analyzes.

China has already conducted a similar operation on the Moon, where it deposited a small remote-controlled “rover” with wheels (dubbed “Jade rabbit”) in 2013, since its successor in January 2019 (on the star’s hidden side the moon, a world first).

Other vehicles are expected on Mars

The Asian country is not alone in the niche of Martian missions, the US, which has already sent four survey vehicles to Mars, has to launch between their fifth of June and August (called “Perseverance”). It should arrive around February 2021.

The United Arab Emirates launches the first Arab probe into the Red Planet on July 15 from Japan.

On the other hand, the Russian-European mission ExoMars, the victim of technical difficulties exacerbated by the Covid-19 epidemic and hoping to launch a robot against Mars this summer, has been postponed until 2022.

With AFP