Overview of China’s 2020 Mars mission design and navigation


Scheduled for an Earth-to-Mars launch opportunity in 2020, the China’s Mars probe will arrive on Mars in 2021 with the primary objective of injecting an orbiter and placing a lander and a rover on the surface of the Red Planet. For China’s 2020 Mars exploration mission to achieve success, many key technologies must be realized. In this paper, China’s 2020 Mars mission and the spacecraft architecture are first introduced. Then, the preliminary launch opportunity, Earth–Mars transfer, Mars capture, and mission orbits are described. Finally, the main navigation schemes are summarized.

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The work described in this paper was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 11672126), Innovation Funded Project of Shanghai Aerospace Science and Technology (Grant No. SAST2015036), the Opening Grant from the Key Laboratory of Space Utilization, Chinese Academy of Sciences (LSU-2016-07-01), Funding of Jiangsu Innovation Program for Graduate Education (Grant No. KYZZ16 0170), the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities, and Funding for Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation in NUAA (Grant No. BCXJ16-10). The authors fully appreciate their financial supports.

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Correspondence to Shuang Li.

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Xiuqiang Jiang received his M.S. degree in ight vehicle design from Nanjing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics (NUAA), China, in 2015. He is currently pursuing his Ph.D. degree in astronautics engineering at Nanjing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics. He is an AIAA student member, the winner of the First-Class Innovation Scholarship awarded by Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, National Scholarship for Postgraduates awarded by Chinese Ministry of Education, and Top Ten Outstanding Students in NUAA. His area of expertise is in guidance navigation and control for planetary landing. His current research interests are trajectory optimization and uncertainty quantification for Mars entry, descent, and landing.

Bin Yang received his B.S. degree in detection guidance and control technology from the Department of Astronautics Control at Nanjing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics, China, in 2016. He is currently pursuing his M.S. degree in ight vehicle design at Nanjing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics. He has received the winning prize at the 8th China Space Orbit Design Contest. His research interests include interplanetary mission design and analysis, and low-thrust trajectory optimization.

Shuang Li received his B.S.E, M.S.E, and Ph.D. degrees from the Department of Aerospace Engineering at Harbin Institute of Technology, China, in 2001, 2003, and 2007, respectively. Since 2007, he has been with the College of Astronautics, Nanjing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics, China, where he is a full professor now. He was also a visiting scholar of Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at the University of Strathclyde, UK, from 2012 to 2013. He has been the author of over 60 articles in reputable journals and conference proceedings. His research interests include spacecraft dynamics and control, deep space exploration, spacecraft autonomous guidance navigation and control, and astrodynamics. He has undertaken and is conducting up to 20 projects sponsored from the China government and the aerospace enterprises in the fields above.

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Jiang, X., Yang, B. & Li, S. Overview of China’s 2020 Mars mission design and navigation. Astrodyn 2, 1–11 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s42064-017-0011-8

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  • China’s Mars exploration
  • mission
  • orbiting
  • landing
  • and roaming
  • orbit design
  • navigation scheme