China has released the first picture of a spacecraft that has been developed to reach Mars.
Beijing aims to land the explorer on the Red Planet in less than two years to celebrate the centenary of the ruling Communist Party.
A picture of the explorer, called ‘Mars 1’, was published today by the state-owned China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation (CASIC), Beijing’s main space manufacturer.
The craft is seen partially covered by golden sheets while a banner at the front suggests the craft was undergoing its last tests. Four workers are seen working around the explorer.
All teams are now ready for the launch of the probe, which is scheduled to take place next year, the scientist revealed.
China has built a mock Mars base-camp ‘Mars Base1’ in the Gobi Desert to mimic the landscape and living conditions on the Red Planet. The country plans to launch its mission to Mars in 2020
He said the mission, which will be China’s first scientific journey to Mars, contained three steps: the spacecraft would first fly around the Red Planet, then land on it and survey it.
‘There are a lot of difficulties in it.
If it proves to be a success, it will be the first time any country completes the three tasks in one mission,’ he was quoted saying in an official social media post by Global Times.
Mars base simulator sits in the middle of the remote Gobi desert in China’s Qinghai region.
The Martian Camp simulator, which cost approximately £17 million ($22.3 million) to build.
China’s space agency, CNSA, hopes that the camp becomes a visiting centre for researchers and adventure-seekers alike to take on challenges that face astronauts on Mars.
The white-coloured base has a silver dome and nine modules, including living quarters and a greenhouse.
A staff member demonstrates how she puts on the helmet of a mock space suit in ‘Mars Base 1’
Chinese lunar mission Chang’e-4 and its rover Yutu-2 (pictured) reached the far side of the moon at the start of this year. It was the first time a spacecraft had landed there in history.