China and Russia plan Mars mission

The first true colour image of the planet Mars photgraphed by ESA in February 2007. China has announced it will launch a joint mission with Russia to Mars in 2009 marking an important milestone in space cooperation between the two countries.

A small Chinese satellite will take off on a Russian rocket, according to the agreement signed Monday between the China National Space Administration and the Russian Federal Space Agency, the Chinese space body said.

The agreement, signed during an ongoing three-day visit to Russia by Chinese President Hu Jintao, follows pledges by Moscow in recent months to work closely with Beijing on exploration of both Mars and the moon.

According to the agreement, a small satellite developed by China would be launched along with “Phobos Explorer,” a Russian spacecraft, probably in October 2009, the administration reported.

After entering Mars’ orbit — 10 to 11 months later — the Chinese satellite would be detached from the spacecraft and probe the Martian space environment, it said.

The “Phobos Explorer,” carrying equipment partly developed by the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, would land on Phobos, a Martian moon, and return to Earth with soil samples, according to the administration.

More info:  Physorg.com article

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