NASA plans to return the first samples from Mars in 2033

The Nasa has been set for 2033 the task of bringing the first Martian soil samples that the Perseverance rover is resuming a complex mission for which it will have to send other robots, including two new helicopters, the American space agency reported on Wednesday.

As part of the Mars Sample Return Program, the Earth Return Orbiter robot, from the European Space Agency (ESA), which is also participating in this program, detailed NASA during a teleconference.

The summer of the following year the sample recovery module will do the same (Sample Retrieval Lander), which will load the small Mars Ascent Vehicle rocket, about 3 meters high, as well as the robotic arm of ESA’s Sample Transfer Arm.

The sample retrieval lander will also carry two small helicopters trained to take samples placed on the Martian surface, which will perform collection work for four days.

Both devices were developed on the basis of the Ingenuity, the NASA helicopter which since last year and to this day made twenty-nine flights to Mars and had its expected life exceeded by more than a year.

The new helicopters, which will have robotic arms and small wheelsthey will be able to move up to a range of 700 meters, although the recovery module is located within a range of 50 meters from which the tubes of approximately 150 grams with the samples will be deposited.

As Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA Associate Administrator for Science, pointed out in a conference call today, the Perseverance rover’s exceptional performance on the Martian surface led engineers and experts to choose it as the main means of transporting samples to the Sample Retrieval Lander module.

Thus, the ESA’s Sample Fetch vehicle, which was to take off to Mars in the middle of this decade and which will no longer be part of this mission, is left out.

Zurbuchen pointed out that these “significant and beneficial” changes to the plan are directly attributed to the strokes of perseverance, that the team is confident it will remain operational beyond 2030, along with the “amazing performance” of the Ingenuity helicopter.

ESA Director of Human and Robotic Exploration David Parker told the conference call that they are The conversations your agency has with NASA are “excellent” before sending the ExoMars rover, now called Rosalind Franklin, to Mars, the take-off date of which could be set next fall during a European “ministerial meeting”.

Since arriving on February 18, 2021 at Jezero Crater, Perseverance has garnered eleven martian soil samples and one from the atmosphere and it is expected that up to thirty samples will be available to send to Earth.

Parker underlined the complexity of this historic mission, which for the first time he will put samples from another planet on Earthwho will travel aboard the Earth Return Orbiter.

Added as sample transfer arm will robotically “place” the sample tubes aboard a container before launching from the surface of the red planet.

As explained today, the transport of samples from Mars will allow scientists around the world to examine them with sophisticated instruments too large and too complex to be sent to the red planet.

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