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China’s Mars sample return mission to be two years ahead of NASA’s timeline

China aims to bring back Mars samples back to earth two years before the time that NASA plans to bring.  Chief designer of the Tianwen-1 Mars orbiter and rover mission, Sun Zezhou announced China’s timeline. It was announced during the presentation on the new mission profile on June 20. It outlines the two launch profile, setting the first launch to be in 2028 and the second to be in 2031.

China Plans To Bring Mars Sample To Earth Before NASA, ESA Joint Mission

Image credits- Nation World Ness

The complex, multi-launch mission will have an easier structure in evaluation with the joint NASA-ESA project, with a single Mars touchdown and no rovers sampling distinct sites. However, if successful, it would supply to Earth the first amassed Martian samples; a goal extensively referred to as one of the essential scientific dreams of area exploration. In March, NASA introduced plans to prolong the subsequent segment of its Mars Sample Return marketing campaign and break up a lander mission into two separate spacecraft to minimize the typical hazard of the program.

ESA’s Earth Return Orbiter would launch in 2027, and the samples would return to Earth in 2033 underneath the revised schedule. China’s mission, named Tianwen-3, will consist of two combinations: a lander and ascent vehicle, and an orbiter and return module. The mixtures will launch one after the other on Long March 5 and Long March 3B rockets respectively.

Earlier statements on the mission counseled the use of a single future Long March 9 top-notch heavy-lift rocket. The mission will construct on the Mars entry, descent and touchdown applied sciences and strategies established via Tianwen-1 in May 2021, as properly as the regolith sampling, computerized lunar orbit rendezvous and docking, and excessive-pace atmospheric reentry success performed by means of the 2020 Chang’e-5 lunar pattern return mission.

Techniques

Sun presented the mission profile at a deep space exploration technology forum, also part of a seminar series marking the 120th anniversary of Nanjing University.

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

The ascent vehicle will consist of two stages, using either solid or liquid propulsion, and will be required to reach a speed of 4.5 kilometers per second, according to the presentation.

After rendezvous and docking with the waiting orbiter, the spacecraft will depart Mars orbit in late October 2030 for a return to Earth in July 2031. Sun added that the Tianwen-1 orbiter will conduct an aerobraking test in Mars orbit later this year as part of the sample return mission preparation. The technological complexity and requirements for autonomy represent some of the major challenges for the mission.

Another noted aspect will be that the landing would take place around the autumnal equinox in the northern hemisphere, in which the mission will likely land. Related difficulties include potential sand storms and low solar energy availability.

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