China aims to return Mars samples ahead of joint NASA-Europe mission: report

China plans to transport samples from Mars to Earth in 2031, two years before NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) do so, according to media reports.

The target date was announced during a presentation on Monday, June 20 (opens in a new tab) by Sun Zezhou, chief designer of the Tianwen 1 Mars orbiter and rover mission which arrived at the Red Planet in February 2021, according to SpaceNews (opens in a new tab).

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