China’s got some lofty space plans lined up for the next couple of decades, culminating with a manned moon landing by 2036. Meantime, the country is looking even further out, geographically speaking, toward the red planet, detailing a mission to send a rover to Mars at around July or August 2020.
This week, China revealed some key computer generated images from the ambitious mission through State-run news agency Xinhua, showing off its rover and the probe that will get it to its destination.
The 441-pound, six-wheeled vehicle is set to explore the surface of the red planet’s northern hemisphere for three months. The space agency says it opted for the spot due to surface geography, even while solar conditions aren’t exactly optimal.
China has been aggressively looking to the cosmos for some time now, becoming the third country to send its own manned rocket into space in 2003. Ten years later, it landed its Jade Rabbit rover on the lunar surface. That mission came to a close earlier this month, when the rover sent its final social media message, “The Moon has prepared a long dream for me,” before finally giving up the ghost after 31 months.