China considers more Mars probes before 2030

China is planning a three-phase probe to collect samples from the Mars by 2030, the chief scientist of the country’s lunar orbiter project said Wednesday.

The three stages are remote sensing, softlanding and exploration, and return after automatic sampling, said Ouyang Ziyuan at a lecture organized by Chinese Society of Astronautics.

Ouyang also briefed on the imminent tests of China’s lunar probe of the Chang’e-3, a moon-landing orbiter expected to be launched in the second half of 2013.

The Chang’e-3 program could help build a telecommunication network that covers a future Mars probe, said Ouyang. He added that Chang’e-5 was expected to return to earth with samples from the moon.

Xinhua