China to send mission to asteroid

The Chinese National Space Administration has finally approved the project of the Tianwen-2 interplanetary mission. Its main purpose will be to deliver samples of asteroid soil to Earth.

Asteroid (469219) Kamoaleva in the artist’s image. Source: Addy Graham/University of Arizona

Tianwen-2 will be the second mission sent by the Celestial Empire to deep space. Its load will consist of cameras, spectrometers, radar, magnetometer, devices for studying charged particles and dust.

The Chinese spacecraft will be launched to the Asteroid Kamoaleva, which is a quasi-satellite of the Earth. This is the name given to objects that are in 1:1 orbital resonance with our planet, which allows them to stay close to it for many orbital periods. The diameter of the Kamoaleva is from 45 to 60 meters. According to some assumptions, it may be a fragment knocked out from the surface of the Moon as a result of a powerful collision.

After approaching the asteroid, the Chinese spacecraft will try to gain a foothold on its surface using four robotic arms. After taking a soil sample, the probe will “detach” from the Kamoaleva and perform a maneuver that will bring it to the trajectory of the Earth’s flight. Upon reaching our planet, Tianwen-2 will drop the capsule with the collected samples.

After that, the probe is planned to be sent to the Main Asteroid Belt to a 300-meter object known as 311P/PANSTARRS. Its main feature is the presence of a comet-like tail. Scientists have different assumptions about the nature of this celestial body. According to one theory, it is actually a comet. According to another, the tail consists of material that is ejected from the surface of the body as a result of its rapid rotation. Tianwen-2 will have to determine the true nature of 311P/PANSTARRS. The journey to 311P/PANSTARRS will take another seven years.

According to

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