By Elizabeth Gibney
China has set its sights on deep space. The China National Space Administration (CNSA) is planning a robotic mission that would return samples from an asteroid and visit a comet — and it has invited international researchers to take part.
The ten-year mission, which has yet to be formally approved by the government, could launch from 2024, CNSA’s international cooperation manager Yang Ruihong told Nature.
Japan and the United States both currently have spacecraft orbiting asteroids and, in 2010, Japan’s Hayabusa mission became the first to bring samples of asteroid material back to Earth.
The CNSA wants to encourage foreign research institutions to propose scientific payloads that could fly on its mission — either developed independently or in collaboration with Chinese partners, according to details published by the agency on 19 April.
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