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China eyes space mission to Venus

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Beijing, March 25 (IANS) China is considering adding a mission to Venus to its plans for planetary exploration, according to a senior Chinese space official.

In a recent space white paper, China had listed its interest in missions to Mars and Jupiter.

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According to Wu Weiren, the chief designer of China’s lunar exploration programme, China is also considering adding Venus to its targets for exploration, Space.com reported.

While Wu offered no further details of the potential mission, Chinese scientists, however, had proposed a mission to Venus early in the last decade.

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As per a 2014 paper, the orbiter mission, which was not selected for further development work, would have focused on Venus’s atmosphere, ionosphere and magnetosphere, as well as carried out surveys of its surface and internal structure, the report said.

In 2020, China launched its first interplanetary mission Tianwen 1 to Mars. The mission’s orbiter and Zhurong rover remain at work on the Red Planet.

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Weiren told Chinese state media earlier this month that Tianwen 2, 3 and 4 missions are set to follow the Mars mission, the report said.

In a recent space white paper China had also detailed plans to launch a mission that will sample an asteroid and visit a comet, a Mars sample-return mission and a probe to explore the Jupiter system.

Venus, the second planet from the Sun, became a hot topic following the September 2020 announcement of a detection of phosphine, a chemical associated with life processes on Earth, in the Venusian atmosphere, the report said.

Last year, NASA and the European Space Agency had also announced three missions to the hottest planet in the solar system.

–IANS

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