NASA completes review of system requirements for Mars sample return program


NASA has completed a review of system requirements for its Mars-to-Earth sample return program.which is about to complete the conceptual design phase, as NASA reported in a statement collected by Europa Press.

During this phase, the program team evaluated and refined the return architecture of the scientifically selected samples, which they are currently being collected by NASA’s Perseverance rover in the Red Planet’s Jezero Crater.

The campaign architecture, which includes contributions from the European Space Agency (ESA), should reduce the complexity of future missions and increase the likelihood of success.

“The the conceptual design phase is when every facet of a mission plan is examined under the microscope,” Associate Administrator for Science at NASA Headquarters in Washington, Thomas Zurbuchen, explained.

“There are significant and beneficial changes to the plan, which can be directly attributed to Perseverance’s recent successes at Jezero and the amazing performance of the Mars helicopter,” Zurbuchen said.

This advanced mission architecture takes into account a recently updated analysis of the expected longevity of ‘Perseverance’which will be the primary means of sample transport to NASA’s Sample Recovery Lander carrying the Mars Ascent Vehicle and ESA’s Sample Transfer Arm.

The Mars Sample Return campaign will no longer include the Sample Fetch Rover or its associated second lander. The sample retrieval lander will include two sample retrieval helicopters, based on the design of the Ingenuity helicopter, which made 29 flights to Mars and survived more than a year beyond its lifespan originally planned. The helicopters will provide a secondary capability to retrieve samples stored on the surface of Mars, according to NASA.

ESA’s Earth Return Orbiter and its NASA-provided capture, containment and return system remain key elements of the program architecture.

With planned launch dates for Earth Return Orbiter and Sample Retrieval Lander in fall 2027 and summer 2028, respectively, samples are expected to reach Earth in 2033.

With its architecture consolidated during this conceptual design phase, the program is expected to move into its preliminary design phase next October. During this phase, which is expected to last approximately 12 months, the program will complete technology development and create technical prototypes of major mission components.

This refined concept of the Mars Sample Return campaign was presented to delegates from the 22 participating states of the European space exploration programme, Terrae Novae, in May. At their next meeting in September, the States will consider stopping development of the Sample Fetch Rover.

ESA is continuing at full speed with the development of the Earth Return Orbiter, which will make the historic round trip from Earth to Mars and back.; and the Sample Transfer Arm which will robotically place sample tubes aboard the Orbiting Sample Container prior to launch from the surface of the Red Planet,” said David Parker, Director of Human and Robotic Exploration at ESA.

The respective contributions to the campaign depend on the funds available from the participating US states and ESA. Agreements between the two agencies will be established next year.

Working together on landmark efforts like the return of samples from Mars not only provides invaluable data about our place in the universe, but also brings us closer here on Earth.Zurich insured.

The first stage of the Mars sample return campaign is now underway. Since landing in Jezero Crater on February 18, 2021, the Perseverance rover has collected 11 scientifically compelling rock core samples and one atmospheric sample.

Bringing samples from Mars to Earth would allow scientists around the world to examine the samples using sophisticated instruments too large and too complex to send to Mars and allow future generations to study them.

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