Buyer data image (Source: NASA)
China is planning an ambitious ‘one rock and two birds’ project for the outer planets Jupiter and Uranus with a pair of spacecraft scheduled to launch simultaneously with a single rocket around 2030.
The mission is called Tianyuan 4, and the two largest probes bound for Jupiter will be sent to Uranus, and a smaller spacecraft will be sent to explore Uranus.
Launched at the same time by Changchung-5 rockets, the pair use two rings of Venus and two Earth-bound flights to launch the spacecraft into an outer path of the solar system before determining their intended paths.
China had previously said it was in the planning stages of Jupiter exploration, but at the 2022 International Space Conference in Paris on September 21, Wang Qiong of the China National Aeronautics and Space Administration (CNSA) announced the creation of a new center for space engineering and lunar exploration. . details.
The main spacecraft will be dedicated to examining Jupiter’s system, and eventually will go into orbit around Callisto to examine the more distant Galilean moons.
According to the CNSA announcement, a small spacecraft weighing several hundred kilograms will make a long trip to Uranus, indicating that the spacecraft could fly alongside an asteroid on its way away from the Sun.
“The scientific objectives are still being studied,” CNSA’s Wang Qiong said after the presentation. Previous announcements have focused on extensive surveys of Callisto as a prime target that could reveal much about the history of the Moon and Jupiter, or on irregular surveys of Jupiter’s satellites that could provide insights into the early days of the solar system.
The CNSA had previously considered landers as part of a mission profile focused on Carilsto, but Wang says the latter concept does not include landers other than orbiters.
Meanwhile, China launched its first independent interplanetary mission in 2020, sending the Tianyuan 1 orbiter and the Colony spacecraft to Mars.
Tienwon 2 will launch around 2025 and land on Kamo’oalewa, an underground satellite that orbits the sun in an Earth-like orbit, collecting samples and returning around 2026.
Tianyuan 3 will be a complex dual-launch modular return mission to Mars, with a mission as early as 2028 to deliver the first samples collected from Mars to Earth.
Wang also added that with the plan to build an international lunar research base in 2030, “the goal is to promote the use of manpower, create a new type of international cooperation in space exploration, and contribute to the peaceful use of spacecraft.” outer space”.
Kwangsik Lee Science Columnist [email protected]
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