China has completed the aerodynamics design of a Mars probe now being testing ahead of a planned launch in 2020.
The rare details about China’s progress in its Mars mission were revealed during China’s annual parliamentary sitting by a researcher with the 11th Institute of the China Aerospace Science and Technology Group.
Zhou Weijiang, a member of the parliament’s advisory committee, told science reporters that complex aerodynamic shape and heat design work was complete.
“China’s Mars exploration mission will strive to realise three goals of encirclement, landing and patrol,” China’s Science and Technology Daily reported.
The high speed of the landing process posed thorny issues to prevent the probe burning up.
Xinhua has previously reported that the Mars probe would carry six rovers to collect data on the environment, surface structure and the atmosphere of the planet.
It will be launched by a heavy lift Long March 5 carrier rocket.
But another aerospace researcher, who is also a member of parliament, called at the weekend for faster development and more focus on liquid engine rockets to carry heavier loads.
Two Long March 5 rockets have failed, most recently in July 2017.
Thirty per cent of China’s aerospace technology had reached “world-leading” levels and by 2030 the goal was 60 per cent, said Liu Zhirang, head of the Sixth Research Institute of the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation.
The Chinese government said in September it was establishing a US$61 million “Mars village” in the remote Qinghai desert to serve as a hub for scientific research by simulating conditions on the red planet.