March 28, 2023


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The Chinese will collect samples from a passing asteroid. They have already chosen a specific goal

The purpose of the mission is called Tianwen 2 There will be asteroid 2016 HO3, which is the smallest and closest object of this kind to our planet. The distances and relationships associated with Earth and 2016 HO3 mean that this asteroid is even referred to as a quasi-blue planet. This name is given to celestial bodies that are not gravitationally attached to the given body, but remain within its range and remain in what is called orbital resonance.

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A probe will be placed near the surface of the asteroid, which will take care of collecting the material that this body is made of. The spacecraft will consist of an orbiter and a return module. The first phase of the entire project will consist of orbiting 2016 HO3, and at some point getting close enough to the target that the robotic arm can reach the desired samples.

If everything goes according to plan, the spacecraft will return to the orbit of our planet and finally land on its surface along with the collected materials. The orbiter will remain operational, continuing its cosmic outings. As part of it, it will head toward Comet 311P. It is one of the main belt comets identified about ten years ago.

Asteroids like 2016 HO3 could contain valuable information about the solar system

The naming of the new mission led by the Chinese National Space Agency apparently refers to Tianwen 1, which landed the Zhurong rover on Mars. This vehicle has traveled the Red Planet longer than expected, but it seems that its lifespan has come to an end. Chinese authorities have not confirmed such reports, but they are likely due to evidence in the form of images from Mars orbit, which show that Zhurong has not moved from the site for several months.

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Once again, we see how ambitious China is in space exploration. The agency there organizes very diverse missions, thanks to which Chinese ships have already reached the Moon and Mars, and now they are going to explore asteroids. Progress in this area could be crucial from the point of view of exploiting the resources likely to be contained in asteroids. In addition, such missions are also of a purely scientific nature, as they can provide important information about the birth and evolution of the solar system.