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China’s Mars mission
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  • China still waiting for signal from Zhurong, which was supposed to power on after sleeping through red planet’s sandstorm season
  • Space authorities are expected to dispatch Tianwen-1 orbiter to check on the solar-powered robot, according to people familiar with the mission
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The head of the country’s biggest space contractor says the rocket will be able to carry a lunar orbiter and lander for a three-person mission.

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The US has long accused China of stealing space technology, but Artemis programme’s VIPER appears to borrow from Chinese rover Zhu Rong, which features caterpillar-inspired suspension system.

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Using a ground-penetrating radar on the Zhu Rong rover, scientists found a layer of rocks likely to be sediment from a catastrophic flood 3 billion years ago.

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China’s timeline is two years ahead of a US-European planned Mars mission to return samples to Earth for laboratory testing, according to Sun Zezhou.

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Current geological age has been seen as a time when the planet was cold and dry, but scientists say their analysis of data from the rover suggests a more active surface hydrosphere in this period.

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While it may not be trendy now to be a panda-hugger, not many countries are willing to blindly trust the uncertain leadership of the United States either. China has to work on a much better coordinated and proactive PR strategy to change perceptions.

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The mission, on track for a July launch despite the Covid-19 pandemic, is named Heavenly Questions after the classical Chinese poem Tianwen