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China to launch Mars probe in 2009
December 04, 2007 12:44 IST
China, which sent its first lunar orbiter to probe the moon's surface recently, will launch its maiden Mars [Images] probe onboard a Russian rocket in October 2009, state media reported.
Yinghuo-1 will reach the pre-set circling orbit and beam the first images of the red planet in September 2010, the state-run China Daily said, quoting a senior scientist.
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 2008, Chen Changya, a researcher with the Shanghai Institute of Satellite Engineering [Get Quote], said.
The 110-kg micro-satellite will 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 newspaper said.
The Mars probe, which has a designed lifespan 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 will land on the Martian moon and return to earth with soil samples, it said.
China's lunar probe, Chang'e-1, launched on October 24, travelled 380,000 km before circling the moon. On November 26, China had published the first picture of the moon captured by the 2,350 kg satellite.
Chang'e-1 will make a three-dimensional survey of the moon surface and analyse abundance and distribution of elements on the lunar surface.