China planning to bring Mars sample to Earth before NASA, ESA joint mission

According to reports, China intends to return Mars samples to Earth in 2031, two years ahead of NASA and European Space Agency’s joint project.

China’s Tianwen-1 had started sending pictures of Mars in February last year. The rover had begun exploring the red planet in May 2021.

Sun Zezhou who is the chief designer of Tianwen-1, reportedly presented China’s ambitious plan during a presentation.

The plan included lifting off to Mars in 2028 and after extensive research which includes sampling and drilling, the spacecraft is expected to depart Mars in 2030 and return to Earth in July 2031.

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China has poured billions of dollars into its space program. The country is also planning to build a base on the Moon.

Tianwen-1 orbiter is also reportedly set to conduct sample return preparation, Sun revealed. China had earlier conducted lunar sample return in 2020.

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Last month three Chinese astronauts arrived at the country’s space station as the Communist nation continues its complex space operation. The astronauts had blasted off from the Long March-2F rocket from the Gobi desert.

NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) had decided to delay their launches to 2028 and said the Mars samples will be possible in 2033 under a revised schedule.

ESA and NASA are also in talks to put the first European on the Moon. The US had banned China from the International Space Station (ISS) in 2011 due to national security concerns.

(With inputs from Agencies)

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