Jun 08, 2019 05:22 PM EDT
Scientists have only a few more years to prepare for the upcoming mission to Mars. One of the tasks listed for the said mission is to bring back samples from the Red Planet. The said "sample-return" mission by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) seeks to conduct studies on Martian materials safely.
The prospective Martian landing site, Jezero Crater, is one of the possible locations for sample hunting. According to previously collected data, the said crater is an ancient lake where ancient microbes could possibly be found.
While there is a lot of space available on Earth where the samples could be examined and studied, the rovers and landers do not have that much space for the samples. This makes it more challenging for NASA to bring home samples from the red planet.
In this light, NASA is working with the European Space Agency (ESA) officials as they plan to perform three launches from the Earth and one launch from Mars. They will be using two Mars rovers, as well as an autonomous docking and the orbit of Mars.
ESA officials stated that NASA will launch the sample-return lander mission which will land near the Mars 2020 site Later, the sample-fetch rover, a small ESA rover will then head out to retrieve the samples. The rover will then return to the lander's platform where the samples will be loaded into a large canister aboard another vehicle which will be launched into The Martian orbit.
As the Mars Ascent vehicle carries the basketball size sample container, the Earth-return orbiter from ESA will capture the container full of samples and then return to Earth.
As the Apollo 11, 12, and 14 astronauts were isolated after their lunar missions, the samples will then also go into quarantine. As of the moment, scientists are making changes in the planetary protection guidelines as they prepare for the huge upcoming milestone in Martian exploration.
ESA stated that there are a few experiments that had to be done which will destroy some of the sample material from Mars. This includes sterilization room heat, chemical processes, and radiation. Although this process could change some samples from their state on the Red Planet, it is also important to ensure the safety of the people that will handle the extraterrestrial material.
Sanjay Vijendran, The Mars sample-return campaign coordinator from ESA stated that the Mars sample-return would be a huge advancement for humanity's studies concerning the Red Planet.
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