[47][48] An alternative plan announced in 2019 involves using the 2020 HX-1 mission to cache the samples for retrieval in 2030. [8], For at least three decades, Western scientists have advocated the return of geological samples from Mars. Scientists are keen to study Martian rock as conditions on the red planet billions of years ago were similar to those on Earth. A drill will extract samples from Martian rocks. If the fetch rover breaks, then Perseverance could bring samples to the lander instead. [13], The United States' Mars Exploration Program, formed after Mars Observer's failure in September 1993,[14] supported a Mars sample-return. A Russian Mars sample-return mission concept is Mars-Grunt. The second spacecraft, the Earth Return Orbiter, will be built by the European Space Agency. A drill will extract samples from Martian rocks. They cite, among other things, lack of any verifiable incident although trillions of kilograms of material have been exchanged between Mars and Earth due to meteorite impacts. One will be a NASA-built lander that will be the heaviest vehicle ever put on the surface of Mars. The agency's 2020 Mars rover is already equipped to collect samples of Martian soil for later collection. http://www.livestream.com/2011lpsc/video?clipId=pla_18e48f98-4a78-4acc-ad2a-29c7a8ae326c. It’s more like an interplanetary circus act than you might imagine, but NASA and the European Space Agency think that now is the time they can finally pull off this complex choreography, tossing the rocks from one spacecraft to another before the samples finally land on Earth in 2031. If Perseverance is still in good working condition, it might head to a second site outside of Jezero where there might have been geothermal hot springs, another environment where life could have thrived. [8] NASA administrator Goldin laid out three options for MSR: "paced", "accelerated", and "aggressive". A robot named Cataglyphis, developed by Team Mountaineers from West Virginia University completed the final challenge in 2016. The Sample-Return Robot Challenge, as part of NASA's Centennial Challenges program, offered a total $1.5 million to teams that can build fully autonomous robots that can find, retrieve, and return up to 10 different sample types within a large outdoor environment (80,000 m2). Bringing Mars Rocks to Earth: Our Greatest Interplanetary Circus Act. [37] Dozens of samples would be collected and cached by the Mars 2020 rover, and would be left on the surface of Mars for possible later retrieval. “The science community, of course, has lusted after doing this for quite some time,” said James Watzin, the director of the Mars exploration program at NASA. [54] Japan has also shown interest in participating in an international Mars sample-return mission. The Sherloc device will identify molecules and minerals to detect potential biosignatures, with help from the Watson camera. The scientific consensus is that the potential for large-scale effects, either through pathogenesis or ecological disruption, is extremely small. If Mars 2020 is still operational it could also deliver samples to the landing site. The scheme, being developed by Nasa and the European Space Agency (Esa), will involve robot rovers finding rocks that might contain evidence of past life. The mission will start by using the new Nasa Mars 2020 rover, which is set to land in Jezero crater in the Syrtis Major region of Mars in early 2021. After a launch in July 2026, a lander with a Mars ascent rocket (developed by NASA) and a sample collection rover (developed by ESA) lands near the Mars 2020 rover in August 2028. The NASA mission includes Perseverance, a 2,200-pound rover, and Ingenuity, an experimental Mars helicopter. [9] One concept was studied with the Sample Collection for Investigation of Mars (SCIM) proposal, which involved sending a spacecraft in a grazing pass through Mars upper atmosphere to collect dust and air samples without landing or orbiting. Once loaded with the samples, the Mars ascent rocket will launch with the sample return canister in spring 2029 and reach a low Mars orbit. [citation needed], One mission concept (provisionally named simply Mars Sample-Return) was originally considered by NASA's Mars Exploration Program to return samples by 2008,[11] but was cancelled following a review of the program. [32] The cancellation of the caching rover MAX-C, and later NASA withdrawal from ExoMars, pushed back a sample-return mission to an undetermined date. However, there is also a chance that life still exists there.

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