China on Tuesday, Dec. 27, released a white paper on its planned space activities for the next five years. The paper, titled "China's Space Activities in 2016," revealed China's ambitious plans for deep space exploration, space science projects and human spaceflight.

China's ambitious plans include landing a probe on the far side of the moon in 2018 and launching a probe to planet Mars by 2020.

Why China Targets Another New Moon Landing

Although other countries and China itself have already landed a rover on the lunar surface, the country's planned lunar mission would be the first to explore the dark side of the moon.

Space security expert He Qisong, from the Shanghai University of Political Science and Law, said that the planned lunar mission shows that China has the required technology to land a probe on a particular area of the moon.

Mars Mission To Bring Back Samples From The Red Planet

As for the plan to launch the first Mars-bound probe by 2020, China said that it would explore and bring back samples from the red planet. The country hopes to conduct studies into major scientific questions which include the origin and evolution of the solar system and the search for alien life.

Much, however, is still unknown regarding the Mars mission. China has not yet released information on what the Mars probe would look like, how it will work and the date of the actual launch. The target year for the Mars mission though is 2020.

"The Chinese government takes the space industry as an important part of the nation's overall development strategy, and adheres to the principle of exploration and utilization of outer space for peaceful purposes," the white paper reads.

Impressive Strides In China's Space Program

Russia and the United States have more experience when it comes to manned space travel but China's space program has made strides in recent years. Its recent space missions show impressive developments in its space technology.

Last month two of its astronauts, Chen Dong and Jing Haipeng, returned from a month-long stay aboard China's Tiangong-2 experimental space station.

On Dec. 22, the country sent the satellite TanSat into space onboard the Long March-2D rocket. The satellite was designed to measure the greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere that can help in scientific research.

The China Academy of Space Technology has also revealed it is working on a prototype of EmDrive space propulsion technology.

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