Beijing: China has developed a prototype Mars drone similar to US space agency NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter2, media reports said on Wednesday. The Chinese drone has been developed to boost its ability to photograph and analyse the landscape on future missions to the red planet, the South China Morning Post reported.Also Read - China's Inhalable Covid-19 Vaccine Likely to Boost Antibodies

The drone would serve as a navigator for a rover as it explores the surface of Mars, the project’s chief scientist was quoted as saying. Also Read - Apple Removes Quran App in China After Request From Officials

The drone would be able to capture images and travel several hundred metres in a single flight, Bian Chunjiang, a researcher with the National Space Science Centre, was quoted as saying to Global Times. Also Read - Bride Wears 60 Kg Gold Gifted by Husband on Wedding Day, Guests Left Stunned

It would help a rover to locate and drive towards features of the landscape with greater speed and precision, making missions more efficient, Bian said.

He said further research efforts would focus on the drone’s survival for long periods in the complex Mars environment, the report said.

Both the American and Chinese drones have two blades to provide lift in the thin Martian atmosphere, Richard de Grijs, professor of astrophysics at Australia’s Macquarie University was quoted as saying.

While Ingenuity has a solar panel on top to keep its battery charged, Chinese researchers are considering using solar energy or wireless charging for power supply, or both, the report said.

In 2020, China launched its first independent Mars exploration mission — Zhu Rong. Last week it marked the 100th Martian day of its operation on the red planet.

China plans to retrieve samples from the planet in 2030 and send crews there for exploration in 2033.