After Moon, China set to probe Mars

After Moon, China set to probe Mars

Beijing: China will launch its maiden Mars probe onboard a Russian rocket in October 2009. It recently sent its first lunar orbiter to probe the moon’s surface.

Yinghuo-1 would reach the pre-set circling orbit and beam the first images of the red planet in September 2010, a senior scientist was quoted as saying by a Chinese daily.

“The prototype of the probe was now being subjected to a series of experiments and its compatibility with the Russian spacecraft would be tested in May next year," said Chen Changya, researcher, the Shanghai Institute of Satellite Engineering.

The 110-kg micro-satellite would travel 350 million km in 11 months before entering the planet’s orbit, Chen, who is in charge of the project developing the Mars probe told a forum on space technology in Shanghai.

The Mars probe with a designed life span of two years will orbit the planet for a year and relay back the first images of the planet taken by a Chinese satellite. The probe would land on the Martian moon and return to earth with soil samples.

China’s lunar probe launched on 24 October, travelled 380,000 kms before circling the moon. On 26 November, China had published the first picture of the moon captured by the 2,350 kg satellite.