A top space scientist linked with the China's lunar probe mission has said the country holds the capability of exploring Mars.
China is capable of sending a probe to circle Mars and having it land on the planet, Xinhua quoted Ye Peijian as saying Saturday and adding that the country has no problems with tracking control and communications technology.
Chinese space missions have witnessed systematic development. The Chang'e-3 lunar probe, a part of the second phase of the country's lunar programme, soft-landed on the Moon Dec 14, with the nation's first moon rover Yutu (Jade Rabbit) aboard.
Ye said China improved ground stations and tackled many problems concerning control and communications especially during the second phase of its lunar programme. "But the time to go (to Mars) will depend on the country's budget and decision."
Mars is considered the most Earth-like planet in the solar system. Currently, it takes about 10 months to send a probe from Earth to Mars.
So far, human beings have made over 40 attempts to explore Mars but more than half of them have failed. Among 13 landing missions, only seven probes sent signals back after landing on the planet.
A Russian spacecraft carrying China's first Mars-exploration probe -- Yinghuo-1 -- was launched Nov 9, 2011 and crashed Jan 15, 2012.