China To Further Explore And Study Asteroids, Mars, Moon
(Photo : Natalie Behring-Chisholm/Getty Images)
China is planning on sending space probes to three asteroids so that it can collect samples from these cosmic bodies and better understand their characteristics. A consultant to the program stated that studying and exploring asteroids is particularly important in the study of the universe as a whole. All this is pointed to a greater study that aims to understand the origins of the Solar System and the beginnings of life on Earth.
News Australia noted that Ji Jianghui of the Chinese Academy of Science Purple Mountain Observatory plans to fly a probe by an asteroid, fly with an asteroid for a certain period and to land on a third one to conduct on-site sampling analysis of its surface.
One of the priorities of the scientists also include detecting asteroids close to Earth to calculate the possibility of collisions. So far, it seems that only the United States and Japan were ever successful in landing probes on asteroids. If proven successful, China will follow in the footsteps of Japan in bringing cosmic samples to study in labs.
China has already conducted a fly-by observation of asteroid Toutatis in 2012, when a Chinese probe met with the asteroid at a distance of 770 meters. Toutatis is a space block larger than a city block and is sweeping by Earth at a distance of about 7 million kilometers.
Ji also noted that China will be sending a lunar probe to the Moon and birng samples back later this year. According to India Today, the mission on the Moon will be the first automated Moon surface sampling from China. Also, it will be the first Moon take-off, first unmanned docking in a lunar orbit and first return flight in a speed that is close to second cosmic velocity.
Launching the Change-4 lunar probe by 2018 could help China achieve mankind's first soft landing on the far side of the Moon. In the same year, the country also expects to carry out an exploratory mission to Mars.