NASA gets review board approval for the Mars Sample Return Project
An independent review report indicated that NASA is now ready to conduct a Mars Sample Return (MSR) campaign to bring pure samples from the Red Planet back to Earth for scientific study.
The US Space Agency established the MSR Independent Review Board to assess its early concepts of an international partnership with the European Space Agency (ESA) to return the first samples from another planet.
After examining the agency’s plan, the board report released Tuesday said NASA is ready for the campaign, building on decades of scientific progress and technical advances in Mars exploration.
“Returning the Mars sample is something that NASA must do as a leading member of the global community,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said in a statement.
“We know that there are challenges ahead, but that is why we look closely at these structures. That is why in the end, we are making great strides.”
The Mars Sample Return campaign will require three advanced spacecraft.
The first, NASA’s Mars 2020 rover, is over halfway to Mars after launch in July.
The Aboard Perseverance is a sophisticated sampling system with a bore drill and sample tubes, the cleanest device ever sent into space.
Once on Mars, Perseverance aims to store rock samples and regolith in their collection tubes.
After that, some of them will be left on the surface of Mars for a rover “brought” provided by the European Space Agency to collect them and deliver them to the Mars ascendant vehicle provided by NASA, which will then launch the samples to orbit around Mars.
Then, the European Space Agency (ESA) Earth Return Orbiter meets up with samples in orbit around Mars and takes them in a very safe containment capsule to return to Earth in the 1930s.
NASA launched the MSR Independent Review Board in mid-August to ensure the success of the long-awaited mission.
It is the first independent review of any major strategic mission of NASA’s Science Mission.
Historically, such reviews did not occur until long after the software was developed.