NASA Plans To Bring Back Mars Rock Samples

The Mars Sample Return Program, which is NASA’s next initiative to bring priceless samples from Mars back to Earth, is currently working out the final arrangements, and the agency’s new helicopters may make upcoming missions much easier.

The conceptual design phase, during which scientists and designers examine each important component of the return plan and make required adjustments to ensure success, is where the planned system for collecting and bringing samples from Mars to Earth is currently. Before, the design called for taking a number of steps to integrate a Sample Fetch Rover into missions; today, two (very cool and sort of cute) recovery helicopters are integrated into the primary Sample Retrieval Lander.

Both NASA and the European Space Agency are driving this concept. According to NASA, the European Space Agency is creating the Earth Return Orbiter, a machine that will really make the historic round-trip from Earth to Mars and back, as well as a Sample Transfer Arm that will insert sample tubes within the machine. Scientists will start developing the first prototypes throughout the course of the upcoming year as a result of the new adjustments.

According to Thomas Zurbuchen, assistant administrator for science at NASA Headquarters in Washington, the modifications to the program’s innovative design were motivated by recent accomplishments in active missions. According to Zurbuchen’s announcement, “There are some substantial and positive revisions to the plan, which can be directly related to Perseverance’s recent triumphs at Jezero and the incredible performance of our Mars helicopter.”

The current Mars chopper, Ingenuity, was utilized as a test for sustained, controlled flight on the surface of another planet when it was initially launched in July 2020 on the back of Mars’ Perseverance rover. According to NASA, Ingenuity was the first flight of its sort on any planet other than Earth and has since made numerous successful test flights, hovering above the planet’s surface and landing again.

Working together on monumental projects like the Mars Sample Return not only yields priceless information about our role in the cosmos but also strengthens our bonds with one another on Earth, according to Zurbuchen.

Currently, a number of samples are being collected by NASA’s Perseverance rover in the planet’s Jezero Crater. These samples will be brought back to Earth for further analysis. According to the new plan, in addition to the helicopters, the Perseverance will serve as the main vehicle for delivering samples to the Sample Retrieval Lander.

The proposal has long piqued people’s interest in the Red Planet. The latest sample return plan, which calls for the launch of the Earth Return Orbiter and Sample Retrieval Lander in the fall of 2027 and the summer of 2028, was presented on July 25 by representatives from NASA and the European Space Agency.

But before becoming overly enthused, let’s wait. It is anticipated that the first samples from the Mars Sample Return Program won’t arrive until 2033. We’ll just continue to ogle the lovely, occasionally bizarre pictures that good ol’ Perseverance managed to take until then.

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