According to media reports, China plans to drag Mars samples to Earth by 2031, two years before NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) intend to do so.
The target date was announced on Monday (June 20) launch by Sun Zezhou, chief designer of the Tianwen 1 Mars orbiter and rover mission that arrived at the Red Planet in February 2021, according to SpaceNews.
Zezhou’s presentation reportedly made at a University of Nanjing academic conference, said China was looking at a double launch campaign that would remove it by the end of 2028. A sample return to Earth in July 2031 report said.
“The complex work, which will be presented more frequently, will have simpler structures compared to the NASA-ESA joint venture, which has a single descent into Mars and no rovers take samples from different sites,” writes SpaceNews.
NASA recently asked for public comment on its shared sample restoration plans after the agency decided to upgrade the second Mars lander due to multiple equipment needs. Add to that the second land and suppressing the arrival of Mars specimens on Earth back in 2033, from 2031.
The NASA-ESA campaign will transport home samples collected by the American space company Perseverance rover, which surveyed the 28-kilometer (45-kilometer), Jezero Crater in February 2021. The project will use a European-built rover to capture samples and place them in Mars American-made ascent (MAV). MAV will launch a container sample to Mars orbit, which a European Earth return orbiter will charge.
The Chinese effort will be further organized, where dirt and stones are collected in a tiny area using “overhead samples, drills, and smart moving samples, possibly using a four-legged robot,” writes SpaceNews.
China already has experience in importing moon samples. The national campaign of Change 5 came to the moon in December 2020 and soon after the introduction of the first moon samples since Luna 24 of the Soviet Union did so in 1976.
And China already has a great Mars experience thanks to Tianwen 1, which launched in July 2020 and landed on Red Planet in February 2021. Tianwen 1 contains an orbiter, a lander, and a rover, called i -Zhurong; the latter were affected in May 2021.