China plots mission to Mars

China released images of an unmanned Martian probe and rover that the country plans to send to the Red Planet within five years.

The Chinese space program successfully landed a tiny, unmanned rover on the surface of the Moon in 2013, the first man-made object to touch down there since the days of Apollo.

Images displayed at this week’s press conference showed a Martian rover with six wheels, and powered by four solar panels — that’s two more than on the rover sent to the moon.

The lander is designed to separate from the orbiter at the end of a journey of approximately seven months and touch down in a low latitude area in the northern hemisphere of Mars, where the Chinese rover would then explore the surface.

China's new Mars probe

Picture released on Aug. 23, 2016 by lunar probe and space project center of Chinese State Adiministration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defence shows the concept portraying what the Mars rover and lander would look like. Image of China’s Mars probe was also released Tuesday. (Xinhua)

Weighing around 450 pounds, the rover is being designed to operate for three Martian months, according to chief designer Sun Zezhou.

China’s ambitious mission will aim to carry 13 payloads according to SciBuzz, including a remote sensing camera and a ground penetrating radar which could be used to study the soil, environment, and atmosphere of Mars.

NASA has plans to launch their next Mars rover in 2020 as well, as part of the American space agency’s larger plan to send a crewed mission to the Red Planet sometime in the 2030s.

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