Carried aboard will be the Chinese Yinghuo-1, mounted atop the spacecraft. According to Chinese media reports, it is a 750 x 750 x 600 mm box weighing 110 kg, equipped with solar panels that will span 7.85 meters when deployed. There will also be a second Chinese contribution, the Soil Offloading and Preparation System, a microgravity grinding tool developed in Hong Kong.
The U.S. is sending an experiment called Living Interplanetary Flight Experiment (LIFE), which will include a natural colony of soil microbes. This experiment is to answer questions about whether microbes riding on meteorites can spread life throughout our solar system by surviving the trip to Mars and back, exposed to the extreme temperatures and radiation in interplanetary space. It is sponsored by the U.S. based Planetary Society.
If the mission is delayed until 2011, two MetNet Mars Landers developed in Finland will be included. The objective of MetNet is to eventually set down a widespread surface observation network on Mars to collect data on Mars’ atmosphere, physics, and meteorology. If the launch takes place in 2009, however, the MetNet landers won’t be ready in time.