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China soon ready to recover Mars samples?

China soon ready to recover Mars samples?

While NASA had to slow down the development of the international sample return mission carried out in cooperation with the European Space Agency due to budget and calendar constraints, China also plans to return samples from Mars to Earth through the Tianwen-3 mission. The country does not appear to be facing budget problems.

Although its mission, initially scheduled to launch in 2028, has been postponed to the following year. WindowWindow With a launch scheduled for early 2030, there are no signs that China will miss its deadlines.

Sample recovery from Mars: an impossible mission for NASA and ESA?

The Chinese mission's architecture takes a simpler approach than NASA and ESA's, although it is a very complex mission. The two Long March 5 launches will see the deployment of a lander and ascent module, as well as an orbiter and a re-entry module. On the Red Planet, the probe will use an arm RoboticsRobotics To collect surface samples, in addition to drilling to harvest materials up to two meters below the surface. a RobotRobot A six-wheeled helicopter, or an Ingenuity helicopter, can also be deployed to expand the range of samples collected. The goal is to return about 500 grams of Mars samples to Earth.

Choose three possible locations

Recently, in a peer-reviewed scientific journal Journal of Geophysical Researcha Chinese article identified three Potential locations To collect samples. that it :

These locations are between 17 and 30 degrees LatitudeLatitude Further north, they provide ideal sunlight and are at an altitude of less than 3,000 meters compared to the average altitude of Mars, allowing the lander to take advantage of AtmosphereAtmosphere Enough to safely slow its descent.

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Environments suitable for life and their preservation

Within these locations, landing paths with dimensions of 50 x 20 kilometers were determined to ensure a safe landing for the mission, avoiding rugged terrain and obstacles such as rocks and steep slopes. Scientifically, these sites are known to harbor suitable environmentsAppearance ofAppearance of and the preservation of life, such as sedimentary or hydrothermal systems, traces of past water activity and geological diversity.

The final selection of the main site and the backup site will be announced later.

China wants to bring back rocks from Mars long before NASA!

Article written by Remy Dekor, published on 06/28/2022

While NASA and the European Space Agency are preparing a mission to return samples from Mars in 2033, we learned that China is developing its mission to… Return of Mars samplesReturn of Mars samples This is to return them to Earth in 2031, that is, two years before the American-European mission! A technological performance that could be considered a disdain for NASA and the European Space Agency.

As mentioned Space newsSun Zichu, chief designer of the orbital mission and Mars roverMars rover Tianwen-1 presented a new architecture for the Mars sample return mission being prepared by China. Compared to the previous rover, the mission seems simpler with a single landing on Mars and no rover to collect samples from different locations as is currently the case. perseveranceperseverance.

Returning Martian samples is one of the main scientific goals of robotic exploration. If China can do this before NASA and the European Space Agency, it will be seen as a hard snub for the two Western agencies, which procrastinated for more than 30 years before giving the green light for a Mars sample return mission. And if by chance the Chinese invite Russia to participate in this MSR mission…

What are China's space ambitions in the coming years?

Initially, NASA and the European Space Agency planned to return Mars samples in 2031. But in March, NASA revised the mission scenario. She ordered the dispatch of both recovery vehicles (Bring a rover) with rocketrocket Martian (Mars Ascent Vehicle) would be very complex and very risky. So it chose to conduct two separate launches: a first flight to send up ESA's Fetch Rover, and a second flight to land the rocket that will launch from Mars, not far from the rover. As for the orbital vehicle that will return the samples to Earth, it will be launched in 2027 and will return to Earth in 2033.

The Chinese MSR mission, called Tianwen-3, consists of two parts and launches only. The lander and Mars ascent module will be launched simultaneously on the Long March 5 launch pad; The orbiter and return module will return to Mars aboard the Long March 3B rover.

Previous missions have been set up to return Chinese Martian samples

Tianwen 3 will use proven technologies. There are those associated with the EDL stage, i.e. entry, descent and landing (Entry, descent and landing), was successfully implemented during the landing of the Zhurong spacecraft on Mars in May 2021 (Tianwen 1 mission). Other techniques being mastered are those related to sample recovery and orbital rendezvous. These technologies were brilliantly demonstrated during the Chang'e 5 mission in November and December 2020. After recovering the lunar samples, the probe was launched from the moon. moonmoon They met around the moon before being transferred to a capsule that returned them to Earth. At the time, this mission marked one of China's finest space feats of robotic exploration.

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If we rely on the timeline given by Sun Zizhou, Tianwen 3 will land on Mars in September 2029. The landing site may not have been chosen yet and must be chosen. The mission is expected to land onNorthern hemisphereNorthern hemisphereat the time ofautumnal equinoxautumnal equinox. Meeting in It rotates in orbitIt rotates in orbit Around Mars, the samples are scheduled to be transferred to the return module in October 2030 and are scheduled to return to Earth in July 2031.

Should we take bets?