ESA: Mars on Earth — what next?

A Mars Sample Return campaign would bring samples of the Red Planet back to Earth for examination in the best terrestrial laboratories – but choosing the samples and storing them on Mars for later return is only one part of the extensive campaign being planned by the mission designers and scientists.

A series of missions currently being planned will set a new bar for humankind’s technological achievements as NASA and ESA aim to bring back samples from the Martian surface.

The campaign foresees three launches from Earth and one from Mars, two martian rovers and an autonomous rendezvous and docking in Mars orbit – over 50 million km away from ground control.

The Mars Sample Return campaign is aiming to bring martian material back from Jezero crater that once held a lake and contains an ancient preserved river delta. The rocks in the area will have preserved information about Mars’ long and diverse geologic history.

Sampling Mars will allow humankind to dramatically expand our knowledge of our neighbouring planet, its geology and climate history.

With engineers in Europe and the USA up for the challenge, scientists are eager to receive the first samples from another planet and have already started investigating and preparing how they will analyse the precious, rocks, dust and gas once the samples are returned to Earth… [More at link]

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