Credit: CNSA

China’s Tianwen-1 Mars mission is a precursor to the country attempting a sample return effort at the Red Planet around 2030.

In addition, China also plans to launch a probe to collect samples from a near-Earth asteroid and explore a comet in one mission around 2025 and investigate the more faraway Jovian system after 2030.

Further study of the Moon by China‚Äôs Chang’e-6 and Chang’e-7 lunar probes in the coming five years are designed to survey the lunar environment and resources, as well as collect samples from the polar region of the Moon.

An ambitious space agenda was detailed Saturday at a press conference held by China National Space Administration in Beijing.

Credit: CNSA

Mars rover update

After some 30 Martian days on Mars, the Zhurong rover had moved over 260 feet (80 meters) from its landing site by Friday. The rover is slated to head south.

Credit: CCTV/Inside Outer Space screengrab

Liu Jianjun, chief designer of the ground application system of the Tianwen-1 probe, told the China Global Television Network (CGTN): “We selected this particular direction for several reasons. The altitude picks up that way, from the ancient martian ocean to land. And that’s also where we’ll come across some of the most interesting things we care about, like mud volcanoes and sub-surface ice.”

Credit: CCTV/Inside Outer Space screengrab

Weathering the weather

Sun Zezhou, chief designer of the Tianwen-1 probe, said the probe is in “better condition than expected”, and said part of that state comes from a stretch of good weather. “We are lucky in having such good weather, which contributes to the mission’s state.”

Credit: CGTN/Inside Outer Space screengrab

Zezhou told CGTN that the rover will likely run into extreme weather conditions like sandstorms. “But we are all prepared for that.” In case of extreme weather conditions like heavy sandstorms, Zhurong could go into the sleep mode and restart later when conditions become bearable again.

Zhang Rongqiao, chief designer of the Tianwen-1 Mars mission, told China Central Television (CCTV) that Zhurong has taken its first 360-degree panorama.

Go to these newly issued videos from China Central Television (CCTV)/China National Space Administration (CNSA) and GLOBALink/New China TV:

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