China yesterday completed a crucial landing test in Hebei province ahead of an unmanned exploration mission to Mars next year.
The country is on track to launch the mission in 2020, according to Zhang Kejian, head of the National Space Administration.
The Mars lander yesterday underwent a hovering-and-obstacle avoidance test at a sprawling site in Huailai. The site was littered with small mounds of rocks to simulate the uneven terrain on which the lander would have to navigate on its descent to the planet's surface.
The journey through space will take about seven months, while landing will take seven minutes, said Zhang Rongqiao, chief architect of the program.
A powerful Long March 5 rocket will transport the probe to Mars.