China details its future Tianwen-2 mission

After recovering lunar samples thanks to the Chang’e 5 mission at the end of 2020 and having succeeded in landing a rover on Mars, China now feels under attack to bring back samples of Martian soil.

A mission project, which would correspond to Tianwen-2 (knowing that Tianwen-1 is the name of the mission which allowed the Zhurong rover to land on Mars), plans to carry out a double launch to Mars during the 2028 window, the first shot carrying a lander and a machine capable of returning to orbit while the other will take an orbiter and a machine to ensure the return to Earth.

If China hoped to use the future Long March 9 heavy launcher, they are ultimately launchers Long March 3B and Long March 5 who would ensure the trip to Mars to be able to carry out the mission as quickly as possible.

Passing in front of NASA and succeeding in the first mission to collect samples brought back to Earth in 2030 would constitute a technical, scientific and strategic feat of the first order and China seems to want to give itself the means.

The race for Martian samples

The NASA and ESA project to recover the samples being collected by the Perseverance robot would leave in 2026 and bring the samples back to Earth in 2031.

With its previous missions, China already has some practical experience with rover soft landing and sample recovery, but a lot of work remains to be done.

According to Space News, Chinese researchers are giving themselves two to three years to finalize the technologies before entering the engineering phase. The lander will collect samples directly, without going through a rover, unlike the Western mission.

What it will gain in reducing the complexity of the techniques, it will lose in the richness of the samples taken. But the ambition here is to demonstrate that Chinese technologies are capable of competing with those of the United States and Europe.

The pressure will be great since missing the 2028 window will de facto require a two-year postponement of the mission. To get started, China plans to test sample extraction techniques on an asteroid in 2024.

Source: GNT – actualités by

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