Plans for a future Mars rover to return soil samples to Earth

Mindy Sparks
July 11, 2018

Airbus has won the initial contracts to design two prototype vehicles, Sample Fetch Rover and Earth Return Orbiter, which will be designed and developed at its facilities in Stevenage, England.

The Mars Sample Return mission is a joint initiative between the ESA and NASA.

It is in fact three separate missions that all depend on one another.

Landing a rover on Mars is a hard task, but it pales in comparison to the incredible challenge of sending material from the planet back to Earth. Presently, NASA operates two rovers on Mars called Opportunity and Curiosity.

The 2020 Rover will move around Mars, drilling holes in various parts of the planet, putting the samples in small tubes and drop them off at set sites. The Mars Ascent Vehicle will then launch from the surface and put the sample container into orbit about Mars. After the box is installed in the rocket, the latter will blast off into orbit around Mars.

NASA and the European Space Agency agreed in April this year to find out if it was possible to bring soil samples from Mars back to Earth.

Clearly it would be a mission of huge firsts for humanity, but the real action will start once the samples show up here on Earth. The samples will land somewhere in the United States by 2030 before being distributed to laboratories throughout the world. "Firstly to understand why Mars, although it is the planet that is most similar to Earth, took a very different evolutionary path than Earth and secondly to fully comprehend the Martian environment in order to allow humans to one day work and live on the Red Planet", he said. The team is already working on the ExoMars rover, which will reach Mars in 2021.

"Winning this contract builds on the UK's world-renowned expertise in space and robotics which the government is supporting through the UK Space Agency and the major investments in our modern Industrial Strategy", said UK Science Minister Sam Gyimah.

The video below outlines the sample return missions.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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