After watching the neighbouring India send its Maritain probe, China also seems to be taking an interest in taking up a possible Mars exploration.
China, that is still basking in its success of the unmanned Chang'e-3 soft-landing on moon is now looking at Mars. Chief Designer of China's lunar probe program Wu Weiren has announced that 'China is ready' for a mars mission, a local Chinese daily reported.
In the report, Wu Weiren said: "We have the potential to go there in the wake of the successes of the Chang'e-1 and Chang'e-2 missions," but added that the final decision has to be taken by the government.
India on 5 November successfully launched its Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM), informally called Mangalyaan, which is expected to reach Mars by September 2014.
Following the Indian feat, the global eye has been on China, its neighbour and rival. In an indirect reference to India, the Chinese scientist Weiren said, "We follow our own approach that respects stable progress and dislikes rash and reckless moves. We don't want to compete with any country in this regard."
However, the senior scientist made it amply clear that with its Long March-5 rocket series that has a maximum thrust of 1,100 tons, China can easily send a Martian probe.
On 14 December the Chang'e-3 rocket carrying Jade Rabbit soft-landed on the moon, which is hailed as a major milestone in China's ambitious space program.
After the success of Chang'e-3, the Chinese government also has announced its plans to launch the Chang'e-5, the third phase of China's lunar mission, in 2017. The Chang'e-5 will carry out an unmanned sampling of the moon's surface and bring back samples to Earth.