China wants to have its own rover rolling around Mars by the year 2020, and it said in a recent statement that its efforts are proceeding as planned. The project would involve sending a spacecraft to orbit Mars, then have it land on the planet where it — or a rover it deploys — will travel around much like the Curiosity, Opportunity and former Spirit rovers. China has had previous success landing its own rover on the moon.
China’s Mars plans were first officially announced back in January. More recently, the China National Space Administration’s leader Xu Dazhe made a public statement during a news conference, saying:
What we would like to do is to orbit Mars, make a landing, and rove around for reconnaissance in one mission, which is quite a challenge. This is a project that has attracted much attention from both the science and space fields.
According to Xu, China will look into international collaborations for its goal, as well as ways space technologies can benefit civilian industries and individuals. At present, the China National Space Agency has busied itself with developing a rocket that will deploy the Tiangong-2 space lab, a replacement for the previously — and successfully — launched Tiangong-1.
Mars is the latest goal among space agencies; NASA has been working extensively on the technology needed to get humans into deep space and, eventually, onto the surface of Mars. Most recently, NASA announced that it is again accepting deep-space habitat prototypes from universities and more, giving the public a chance to help shape humanity’s future.