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China may become first country to deliver samples from Mars to Earth in 2030

12 March 2024 [09:00] - TODAY.AZ

By Alimat Aliyeva

In mid-February, NASA announced that the Perseverance rover was at risk of losing the ability to shoot lasers at Martian rocks because one of its instruments was not working properly due to one of the two covers of the SHERLOC scientific instrument partially open. This hindered the possibility of collecting scientific data, Azernews reports, citing foreign media outlets.

In mid-January, the US space Agency had to cancel a historic mission on the red planet using the Ingenuity helicopter, because one of its rotor blades was damaged during landing. Initially, this space instrument was intended to test the technologies necessary for flights in the Martian atmosphere, but this failure put an end to an important milestone in interplanetary aviation.

All this forced NASA to postpone the schedule of its Martian operations, given that it was left behind in the Martian space race.

Amid NASA's setbacks, which were also related to budgetary uncertainty, China is implementing its plan to collect Martian rocks and deliver them to Earth around 2030 thanks to the Tianwen-3 mission.

According to the chief designer of the Mars orbiter and the Tianwen-1 rover, Sun Zehzhou, the Tianwen-3 mission consists of "extracting rock samples and then taking off from the surface of Mars" to analyze these "stones using the most modern tools here on Earth," so "scientists will be able to better answer to such fundamental questions as: was there still water on Mars and did it support any form of life in the past?"

The country's desire to carry out an unprecedented mission was stated earlier and included in the development plans of the Chinese National Space Administration for 2021-2025.


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