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China-made probe to explore Mars

THE China-made "YH-1" Mars rover will be launched in October - the country's first attempt to explore the red planet - as part of a joint mission with Russia.

If successful it will mark another major breakthrough in China's space research following three manned space flights.

The rover has passed all examinations by experts and is ready for launch, today's Beijing Evening News reported.

YH-1 is expected to land on Mars next year and explore the planet's environment, search for signs of water, and examine its evolution, the newspaper said.

A Russian rocket will blast off with YH-1 and with a Russian exploration vehicle known as Phobos-Grunt. Phobos will supply power to YH-1.

The two vehicles will reach the orbit of Mars in 2010 more than 10 months after launch. In August 2010 they will separate. The Chinese rover will explore Mars while the Russian craft will land on Phobos to explore the environment and take soil samples.

YH-1 is equipped with six solar energy panels that will power it on Mars.

The China-made rover is 75 centimeters long, 75 centimeters wide and 60 centimeters high. It weighs 110 kilograms. An American-made Mars rover named Spirit and Opportunity weighed 180 kilograms.

Mars rover research has been tough, according to the newspaper. As of last year, 38 Mars probes had been launched globally and only 20 were successful.


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