The Chang’e 4 robotic probe. [Photo/clep.org.cn]

BEIJING — China is soliciting ideas for payloads aboard its proposed missions to the moon, an asteroid and a comet, according to the China National Space Administration.

It is asking for primary, middle school and university students across the country to provide ideas for payloads that would fly aboard the Chang’e 7 probe to the moon, and on another spacecraft to the asteroid 2016HO3 and the comet 133P.

The solicitation aims to arouse students’ interest in science and inspire them to explore the universe, said the administration.

The space administration, together with six organizations including the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Science and Technology, and the Chinese Academy of Sciences, issued a notice about the solicitation in late July.

The solicitation remains open until Oct 31. Students from Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan are also welcome to offer ideas.

Winners will be awarded with prize money and invited to witness on-site spacecraft launches, according to the notice.

In 2019, administration officials announced the Chang’e 7 mission plan, which will carry out surveys around the South Pole of the moon, including studying terrain and landform, physical composition, as well as the space environment in the region.

The asteroid mission was also unveiled last year. According to previous reports, China will send a probe to fly around the asteroid 2016HO3 and then land on it to collect samples. The probe will then fly back to the proximity of Earth, and release a capsule to return the samples. 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 comet 133P.