China's first Mars probe, Yinghuo-1, will be launched in the second half of this year, according to officials with the 3rd Shanghai International Aerospace Technology and Equipment Exhibition on Thursday.
The probe's prototype has been subjected to a series of experiments and will travel 380 million km in 11 months before entering the Mars's orbit in 2010.
The two-year probe will conduct scientific exploration tasks, including exploring the Martian space environment and relaying back the first Mars images taken by a Chinese satellite.
Soundbite: Zhang Weiqiang, a Party official with Shanghai Aeronautic Bueau "(The major task) is to orbit and explore Mars and test data of Mars' atmosphere and surrounding environment. This is to create a better platform for future space exploration."
The Mars probe will be launched from a Russian launch vehicle.
In 1964, the United States' fly-by Mariner 4 sent back 21 images of Mars. It was the first successful exploration of the planet in human history. American Mars Exploration Rovers were launched in 2003.
Xinhua News Agency correspondents reporting from Shanghai. (XHTV)