China at technical preparation stage for Mars, asteroid exploration
Ye Peijian from the China Academy of Space Technology and chief scientist with the country's lunar probe mission, said Chinese space researchers had tackled some of the technical difficulties associated with the exploration of Mars and asteroids.
However, he added, the projects are only at the technical preparation stage, which suggests that it will be some time before an official project is announced.
Ye is an vocal advocate for a China Mars mission. If the project was given the green light, he said, the probe should orbit, land, and explore the surface of Mars all in one mission.
Ye said that as a developing country, China should narrow its space exploration focus to certain planets.
The country should also explore asteroids as many preserve information dating back to the Big Bang, not to mention that some pose a risk to the human race, he said.
"I hope [these plans] win the support of the people of China, and things kick off as soon as possible," said the scientist, who is in Beijing for the annual session of China's top political advisory body.
An earlier report showed that a feasibility study on China's first Mars mission had been completed. In November last year, a model of a Mars rover prototype was displayed at the Airshow China 2014. ■