China To Conduct A Deep Space Mission As Soon As Possible

Ever since the first spacecraft was sent from Earth to roam the vast mysteries of other space, mankind has been fascinated with what lies beyond our planet, endlessly trying to quench the thirst by attempting to learn and understand more through various space missions and programs.

And now, it seems like China is in line to join the ever-growing list of countries and nations who are all making their mark outside of our home planet. That’s because the Asian country is reportedly planning a robotic mission that would go to deep space, return samples from an asteroid and even visit a comet as soon as the year 2024.

According to China National Space Administration’s international cooperation manager Yang Ruihong, the 10-year mission has yet to be formally approved by the government, but the project could be ready five years from now.

At present, only Japan and the United States have asteroid-orbiting spacecrafts. In fact, Japan’s Hayabusa mission became the first-ever spacecraft to bring asteroid samples back to Earth in 2010.

The CNSA reportedly wants to encourage research institutions from all over the world to contribute scientific payloads, whether it’s independently made or developed in collaboration with Chinese partners.

As for the mission itself, it will reportedly put a probe on Earth’s pet asteroid, called 2016 HO3. Classified as a quasi-satellite due to its small size, the oscillating celestial object was discovered back in 2016 and it is said to constantly loop around Earth. After this, the probe is to return to Earth’s orbit to drop a sample on the ground.

The Chinese spacecraft is then expected to travel beyond Mars, to the asteroid belt of our solar system. The journey would reportedly take seven years. Once there, the spacecraft going to study the comet 133P/Elst-Pizzaro.

According to CNSA, the mission was developed in order to learn more about the formation and evolution of the smaller celestial bodies present in our solar system, as well as their interactions with the solar wind and how it affects these bodies.