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Sat, Apr 20, 2024

NASA Mars Sample Return Project Gets Renewed Approach

Mars Sample Return Program To Be More Feasible and Timely

NASA's Mars Sample Return program is set to greatly enhance our understanding of Mars, the solar system, and potentially life itself.

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson has outlined a renewed approach to make this mission more feasible financially and time wise, addressing the high costs and long timelines initially projected.

Since the Perseverance rover began collecting samples on Mars in 2021, the goal has been to return these samples to Earth. This task presents unprecedented technical challenges, including the launch of a rocket from Mars back to Earth--a feat never before attempted. The complexity and high cost ($11 billion originally) of this mission have prompted NASA to seek innovative, cost-effective solutions to reduce the overall mission budget to between $8 billion and $11 billion and move the sample return from 2040 to the 2030s.

Key changes in the mission approach include simplifying the mission design, enhancing resilience, reducing risks, and improving coordination and accountability. NASA is now reaching out to the aerospace community to solicit new ideas and technologies that could expedite the mission while lowering costs and complexities.

Nicky Fox, NASA's associate administrator, emphasized the mission's importance for science and its role in understanding planetary habitability and the potential for life on other worlds. The insights gained from the Mars samples could profoundly impact our knowledge of planetary science and astrobiology.

As NASA prepares to take the next steps, it encourages collaboration and innovation across the industry to achieve this ambitious goal, setting the stage for a milestone in space exploration and scientific discovery.

FMI: NASA.gov

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