London, Dec 4 : Reports indicate that China would launch its first Mars probe Yinghuo-1 atop a Russian launch vehicle in October 2009.
The probe will travel 350 million km in 11 months before entering planet's orbit.
"Yinghuo-1 will reach the preset circling orbit and send back the first images of the red planet in September 2010," said Chen Changya, a researcher with the Shanghai Institute of Satellite Engineering.
"The 110-kg Mars probe will circle around the planet for one year, though it has a designed life of two years. It will conduct scientific exploration tasks, including exploring the Martian space environment, and relay back the first Mars images taken by a Chinese satellite," said Chen.
After entering Mars' orbit, Yinghuo-1 will be detached from the Russian spacecraft, which will land on the Martian moon and return to Earth with soil samples.
According to a statement issued by the China National Space Administration (CNSA) in March, "The mission is the result of close cooperation with Russia, and represents a milestone in the history of space cooperation between the two neighbors."
"The probe's prototype is now being subject to a series of experiments, and next May, its compatibility with the Russian spacecraft will be tested," said Chen, who is in charge of the project developing the Mars probe.
NASA's twin robot geologists, the Mars Exploration Rovers, launched on June 10 and July 7, 2003, landed on Mars on January 3 and January 24, to search for and characterize a wide range of rocks and soils that hold clues to past water activity on Mars. (ANI)
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