Mars Sample Return Mission


Mars Sample Return Mission

Infobox_Spacecraft
Name = Mars Sample Return Mission


Caption = Mars Sample Return Mission
Organization = NASA, ESA
Major_Contractors =
Mission_Type = orbiter, lander, rover and sample return
Orbital_Insertion_Date =
Launch = 2018
Launch_Vehicle = Ares V, EELV or Ariane 5
Decay =
Mission_Duration =
NSSDC_ID =
Webpage = [http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/missions/profile.cfm?MCode=MarsSample Mars Sample Return Lander Mission Profile]
Mass =
Power =
Orbital_elements =
Semimajor_Axis =
Eccentricity =
Inclination =
Orbital_Period =
Apoapsis =
Periapsis =
Orbits =

A Mars Sample Return Mission would be a spaceflight mission to collect rock and dust samples from Mars and to return them to Earth for analysis. One particular proposal, a joint project between NASA and ESA, is scheduled to launch in 2018. [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/7500371.stm Date set for Mars sample mission] BBC News]

Proposed mission profile

The scenario of the joint NASA/ESA mission will depend on the date of launch and performance of the launcher. Before 2018, only launchers such as Ariane 5 and the US EELV are available, while after 2018, the Ares V should be available, allowing simpler mission scenarios.

The mission will consist of an orbiter, a lander, and possibly a rover. The orbiter is designed to deliver the lander/rover probe to Mars and return sample rocks back to Earth for analysis. The lander will feature an ascent component in order to deliver the samples to the orbiter (in case of launch with Ares V the orbiter part can be skipped in favor of a direct ascent scenario).

The rover's main objective is to collect a variety of rock samples using many instruments provided by scientists from NASA and ESA. If the rover is canceled, the lone lander would possibly have a robotic arm and/or hand to collect rock samples in replacement. But the lander could also have a proposed drilling machine to take samples from the Martian interior.

Scientific use

The return of Mars samples would be beneficial to science by allowing more extensive analysis to be undertaken of the samples than could be done by instruments painstakingly transferred to Mars. Also, the presence of the samples on Earth would allow scientific equipment to be used on stored samples, even years and decades after the sample return mission. [http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/missions/future/futureMissions.html Mars Sample Return] (from the NASA website. Accessed 2008-05-26.)]

The sample would also undergo laboratory examination for living or dead life forms. However, the difficulty of providing and maintaining life support over the months of transit from Mars to Earth remains to be solved. Providing for still unknown environmental and nutritional requirements is daunting. Should dead life forms be found in a sample, it would be difficult to conclude that those organisms were alive when obtained.

ee also

*Mars meteorite

References

External links

* [http://www.esa.int/esaMI/Aurora/SEM1PM808BE_0.html ESA's Mars Sample Return page]
* [http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/missions/profile.cfm?MCode=MarsSample Mars Sample Return Lander Mission Profile] by [http://solarsystem.nasa.gov NASA's Solar System Exploration]
*cite web | url = http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/story?id=3661253&page=1 | title = ESA Open to Mars Sample Return | publisher = ABC News | date = 2007-09-27


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