China plans to withdraw samples from Mars to Earth in 2031, two years before NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) seek to do so, according to media reports.
Target date announced Monday (June 20th) presentation (opens in a new tab) by Sun Zezhou, chief designer of Thienwen 1 A mission to an orbiter and rover on Mars, which arrived on the Red Planet in February 2021, according to SpaceNews (opens in a new tab).
Zezhou’s presentation at a seminar at Nanjing University said China was aiming for a two-launch mission with a take-off at the end of 2028 and a test to return to Earth in July 2031, the report said.
“The complex mission with many launches will have a simpler architecture than the joint NASA-ESA project, with one landing on Mars and no rovers to take samples from different places,” writes SpaceNews.
NASA recently asked public contribution of its joint sampling plans once the Agency has decided developed a second spacecraft to land on Mars due to the massive demands of the mission. The addition of this second lander displaces the arrival of samples from Mars on Earth back in 2033, in 2031.
The NASA-ESA campaign will download home samples collected by the US space agency Rover Perseverancewhich explores the 28-mile (45 km) wide Jezero Crater from February 2021. The project will use a Europe-built fetch rover to take samples and place them aboard an American-made Mars Climber (MAV). . The MAV will launch the sample container into orbit on Mars, where it will be captured by a European orbit to return to Earth.
China’s efforts will be streamlined, with dirt and rocks collected from a small area through “surface sampling, drilling and mobile intelligent sampling, with the potential use of a four-legged robot,” writes SpaceNews.
China already has experience in supplying samples from the moon. To the nation Chanye 5 the mission landed on the moon in December 2020 and shortly after the delivery of The Earth the first lunar samples after Luna 24 of the Soviet Union did so in 1976.
And China already has significant experience with Mars thanks to Tianwen 1, which launched in July 2020 and arrived on the Red Planet in February 2021. Tianwen 1 consists of an orbiter, as well as a lander and a rover called Zhurong; this last duo landed in May 2021.
The Tianwen 1 and Zhurong orbiters are still strong. The rover entered a planned hibernation in May this year to try to withstand the bitterly cold winter on the Red Planet.
During a virtual Senate hearing in May 2021, for example, NASA chief Bill Nelson twice showed printed photo of Zhurong on Mars, saying China’s program “adds a new element to whether we want to be serious” about NASA sending people back to the moon. NASA has a program Artemiswhich aims to put boots on the lunar surface in 2025 or so.
However, from a scientific point of view, China is working to increase its visibility in the space community. She released a high resolution global map on the moon earlier in June and May released plans for the mission to return the sample from the asteroid Tianwen 2, which is scheduled to launch in 2025.