Beijing: China needs to look at outer space since the Earth is "relatively small and limited", a state-run Chinese daily said.
An editorial "China should dream big in outer space" in the Global Times said NASA announced they had found strong evidence of the existence of flowing water on Mars.
"It is like a bomb that shocked the world. Although some remain sceptical of the conclusions, NASA`s claim has shown serious progress in scientific exploration," said the daily.
The US has sent more than 20 spacecraft to the Mars since 1964, among which several probes have landed on the surface of the Red Planet. The Curiosity is still roving Mars and sending back information. NASA is leaving the other space competitors far behind.
The editorial said that NASA`s far sight and one discovery after another have "met our curiosity and gained respect from the world, including the Chinese people. At the same time, its discoveries gives us a sense of urgency".
China was the third country to send an astronaut into space.
"However, while the US has been getting close-up inspections of almost all planets in the solar system, China`s Mars probe, Yinghuo 1, lost contact before leaving the Earth orbit. China has no deep space telescope, and no spacecraft flying out of the solar system - the gap with the US in space technology is deep," said the daily.
It noted the "disturbing thing" that the Chinese public does not have a strong will to catch up with the US in space exploration.
"Earth is relatively small and limited. Humanity is destined to explore for more resources and a greater sphere of existence in the future," the editorial added.
The daily went on to say that perhaps it is time China sets up a special organization for space exploration.
"Its tasks should not be limited to Earth-related things like launching satellites. It needs to eye the solar system, the galaxy and the universe. It should work on things that satisfy people`s curiosity and widen humanities` horizons."
"This is not a political need to brighten the image of China. It is a necessary step along with China`s modernization. China has been following the steps of the West in the past century. Now we need to set our sight for pioneering exploration, ready to explore virgin scientific territory, and dare to accept the risk of failure."
The daily added that the Chinese nation is no longer satisfied with "living like a farmer who eyes nothing but his own piece of land and a family to raise. We are looking up into space now".