Thursday, September 29, 2022

China wants to beat NASA, ESA in returning Mars samples to Earth: report

New Delhi: China’s Mars sample return mission aims to collect samples from the Red Planet and return them to Earth in 2031, or two years before the NASA and ESA joint mission, a media report said.

According to Sun Zhezhou, chief designer of the Tianwen-1 Mars orbiter and rover mission, China has planned a two-launch profile, which will fly in late 2028 and deliver samples to Earth in July 2031, Space News reported.

China’s sample return mission was first revealed in a white paper released in January that outlined the country’s ambitious space exploration plans for the next five years.

MS Education Academy

The complex, multi-launch mission will have a simpler architecture than the joint NASA-ESA project, with a single Mars landing and no rover sampling different sites, the report said.

The mission, called Tianwen-3, will consist of two combinations: a lander and ascent vehicle, and an orbiter and return module. The report said the combination would launch separately on the Long March 5 and Long March 3B rockets, respectively.

Landing on Mars will happen around September 2029. Sampling techniques will include surface sampling, drilling and mobile intelligent sampling, potentially using a four-legged robot.

Zhizhou said the Tianwen-1 orbiter will conduct an aero-braking test in Mars orbit as part of preparations for a sample return mission later this year, the report said.

Meanwhile, in March, NASA announced plans to split a lander mission into two separate spacecraft to delay its Mars sample return mission and reduce the program’s overall risk.

Under the revised schedule, ESA’s Earth Return Orbiter is scheduled to launch in 2027, and samples will return to Earth in 2033.

Nation World News Desk
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