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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

China and Russia to Survey Mars Together

BEIJING -- China and Russia will mount a joint effort to explore Mars and one of its moons in 2009, Chinese state media reported Wednesday following an agreement to boost cooperation between the ambitious space powers.

A Russian rocket will lift a Chinese satellite and Russian exploration vehicle to survey Mars and Phobos, the innermost and biggest of the red planet's moons, the China Daily reported, citing China's National Space Administration.

The announcement followed an agreement signed Monday in Moscow, where Chinese President Hu Jintao was visiting.

A Chinese space official said the agreement would boost cooperation between China and Russia, both eager to expand their presence in space as the United States seeks to keep its lead.

"It indicates the two sides have taken a key step forward to working on a large space program," the official said, China Daily reported.

The small Chinese satellite will examine Mars while the Russian craft will land on Phobos to explore the environment and scoop up soil samples.

Russia has much more experience than China in space exploration. But Beijing has been using its newly acquired wealth and technological muscle to break into the exclusive space club.

In 2003, China became the third country to put a man in space, after the United States and the Soviet Union.