The Chinese probe will bite into the asteroid. 1 kg of space rocks will come to Earth

The Chinese space administration announced the start of work on the next lunar mission. Chang’e-7 will fly to the South Pole of the Moon. At the same time, the construction of a probe is underway, whose task will be to study comets and bring to Earth samples of soil taken from the asteroid approaching Earth.

In late July, government officials asked elementary, high school and university students to submit ideas for popular science experiments that could fly into space on board the Chang’e-7 and ZengHe probes (asteroid probe).

Another lunar probe

Chang’e-7 will be another part of China’s south moon study program . The Chang’e program, initiated in the first decade of the 21st century, involved sending an orbiter, lander, and rovers to the Moon, as well as collecting lunar regolith samples from the lunar surface and transporting to Earth.

The Chang’e-7 mission will include an orbiter and a lander that will deliver a rover and a mini-flying probe to the surface. The entire mission will be supported by a satellite that will transmit data from Chang’e-7 to Earth. Most likely it will be a newer version of the Queqiao satellite currently supporting the Chang’e-4 mission on the far side of the Moon.


The launch of the mission is scheduled for 2024 at the top of the Long March 5 rocket. Further plans include the implementation of the Chang’e-8 mission, the aim of which will be to use the materials available on-site and to conduct 3D printing technology tests with their use – it will be one of the key steps in the way to build a potential permanent robotic base.

Not only the moon

The target of the ZhengHe mission, named after a 15th-century marine explorer, will be the 2016 HO3 asteroid (469,219 Kamo’oalewa). The probe will take 200 to 1000 g of samples from its surface and return to the vicinity of the Earth 2-3 years later to dump the sample container into the Earth’s atmosphere. However, this will not be the end of the mission. Taking advantage of the near-Earth flyby, ZhengHe will use a gravity springboard that will direct her to Comet 133P / Elst-Pizarro in the Main Belt. The probe will arrive at its destination seven years later. While earlier mission presentations assumed the use of additional gravity assistance from Mars, the latest flight profiles indicate a pass near an unidentified asteroid en route to 133P.

The asteroid 2016 HO3 is 40 to 100 meters in diameter, and in its orbit it travels 38-100 times the distance from Earth than the Moon. The ZhengHe spacecraft will be launched into space on top of the Long March 3B rocket from the Xichang spaceport. In 2012, the Chinese probe Chang’e-2 flew near the asteroid 4179 Toutatis.

Mons Rumker region photographed by astronauts on the Apollo 15 mission.

Both missions will be based on technology from the Chang’e-5 probe, which will be launched towards the Moon in the fourth quarter of 2020. Its goal will be to obtain up to 4 kilograms of samples from Mons Rumker Hill in the lunar Oceanum Procellarum. If the mission goes as planned, Chang’e-6 will try to do the same at the south pole of the moon.

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The Chinese probe will bite into the asteroid. 1 kg of space rocks will come to Earth