Based on its current ambitions, China's space program will carry out a Mars mission in July and will include the deployment of an orbital vehicle to study the red planet, a remotely operated rover to explore its surface.
On the other hand, its rival, the US, has also scheduled another rover mission for Mars this summer - a prime time for an optimum journey from Earth to the distant planet due to their relative orbits around the sun.
China's National Space Administration (CNSA) has named its Mars exploration mission "Tianwen-1," which literally means Questions to Heaven, or Heavenly Questions, taken from a popular poem written by the well-known Chinese poet Qu Yuan.
The planetary voyage, which Beijing has poured billions of dollars in, seeks to catch up with the US, Russia, India and the European Union and aims to complete orbiting, landing and roving in one mission.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration's 2020 March mission is set sometime between July 17 and August 5. On top of the rover Perseverance, NASA plans to send a small aerial surveillance vehicle called Ingenuity, which will search for areas for the rover to study and explore, and how to land there.
China has successfully deployed two robotic rovers to the moon in 2013 and last year, as part of the space program's Chang'e Exploration.
The country's bold space odyssey in the coming months includes a manned moon mission and a national manned space station. This year's Mars missions, when the moon's distance is shortest from the Earth, will run from late July to early September.
It will take many months to travel the approximately 55 million kilometers distance between Earth and Mars, which constantly changes because of the two planets' orbital alignments.
China has already undertaken a similar space mission to the moon, and in January last year successfully landed a small robotic rover on the dark side of the moon's region, becoming the first country to attain such feat.
In contrast, the US space agency has released a new guideline and proposal for continued international collaboration in space missions, particularly in the establishment of a more permanent human presence on the lunar surface.
NASA is also optimistic about bringing back human space launch capabilities, with a demonstration launch of astronauts onboard the Crew Dragon spacecraft of SpaceX on Wednesday.
The Mars mission is one of the many space endeavors that China is working on to validate its reputation as among the world's best. The US, meanwhile, has already sent four exploratory vehicles to the red planet, and plans to deploy a fifth this year.