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China invites world scientists to explore asteroid, comet together

Xinhua | Updated: 2019-04-18 19:16

BEIJING -- China on Thursday unveiled its plan to explore an asteroid and a comet, inviting scientists around the world to participate in the program.

The mission will involve exploring a near-Earth asteroid, named 2016HO3, and a main-belt comet, named 133P, said Liu Jizhong, director of the Lunar Exploration and Space Program Center of the China National Space Administration.

China has offered to carry scientific instruments developed by other countries on the mission, according to Liu.

He said the mission is still under discussion. According to the current plan, a probe will be sent to fly around asteroid 2016HO3 and then land on it to collect samples.

Then the probe will fly back to the proximity of Earth, and a return capsule will be released to bring the samples back to Earth.

After that, the probe will continue its journey. With the assistance of the gravity of Earth and Mars, it will finally arrive at the main asteroid belt and orbit the comet 133P to explore it.

The whole mission will last about 10 years, according to Liu.

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