Airbus Mars rover will send samples back to Earth

Rodiano Bonacci
Luglio 11, 2018

The rover, which will be designed by Airbus's team in Stevenage, UK, will not bring the samples direct back to Earth itself, but will collect the material left by NASA's Mars 2020 rover and will transfer them to an ascent vehicle, where they will be put into orbit about the Red planet, and returned to Earth by a separate spacecraft.

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

Airbus was awarded the $5.2 million contract by the European Space Agency (ESA) to design a concept for a rover that can collect the samples on Mars.

The Mars 2020 rover's task is to dig and contain the soil sample into 30 tubes and dropping them at various point around the planet.

If all goes well, a third mission, ESA's Earth Return Orbiter, will be on station to collect the samples and seal them away inside an armored, biologically isolated container to protect it on the trip back to Earth. The idea is to have this fetch rover on Mars by 2026 where it will be able to detect those canisters from a distance, drive to their location on its own, pick them up with the help of a robotic arm, and then keep them in a storage space. With those funds, Airbus will develop its own Mars rover created to complete what NASA has started. The ship will be captured in Martian orbit by ESA's Earth Return Orbiter and then head home. The deal is worth £3.9 million, which is over $5.1 million United States dollars, and follows on the heels of the Mars 2020 mission which will include another rover built by the same company.

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.

"Bringing samples back from Mars is essential in more than one way". These two elements will be critical parts of a mission to return samples of the planet Mars to Earth before the end of the next decade.

"I am very pleased that with these two studies now being commissioned and in combination with other studies conducted elsewhere in Europe we make another important step to explore Mars".

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