Tuesday, December 04, 2007

China sets launch date for Mars probe

China is shaping up to be one of the big players in space exploration and has am ambitious set of missions on the drawing board. Newly announced is a launch date for a Mars Orbiter. A final name for the probe has yet to be decided, though the China Daily is calling it Yinghuo-1, which appears to translate as Firefly. The 100kg probe will be lofted into orbit on a Russian launch vehicle in October 2009, marking a new closeness with Russia. Yinghuo-1 is expected to spend a year in orbit about Mars, but the mission has the potential to be extended by a further year. The probe will conduct a variety of scientific observations and return images of the planet.