China will launch the Chang’e-5 lunar probe at the end of this year to complete the collection and return of samples. The country will also launch a Mars probe in 2020 to orbit, land and explore the red planet, Wu Weiren, chief designer of China’s lunar exploration program, said during an interview ahead of the opening of the second session of the 13th National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) on Sunday.
During the interview, the press raised questions on the current condition of China’s Chang’e-4 lunar probe and the moon rover Yutu-2.
Wu, also member of the CPPCC National Committee, said that there are 14 days of darkness on the moon due to its rotation and revolution, thus the temperature could reach as low as minus 190 degrees Celsius, which is a temperature that no electronic component can endure.
“We have to put them into hibernation so that they can safely pass the night on the moon,” he said, adding that the probe and the lander awoke for the third sunrise on the moon recently, and are now in normal condition.
Wu told the press that the exploration of the terrain of the landing spot was complete, and the lander is now heading northwest from where it landed.
“The road condition is not good with potholes and obstacles on it,” said Wu. “But please rest assured we will ensure its safety.”
“There have been over 120 lunar explorations globally, among which China has contributed five, which is a small number,” Wu said.
He sees China’s lunar exploration program as “starting late but starting high, with few investments but more output.”
“We have achieved a lot in China’s 60 years of aerospace history, but we are still far behind the great powers of aerospace,” Wu said. “So, we need to speed up the pace to catch up.”