NASA and the ESA recently approved the second phase of the Mars 2020 Perseverance mission that would bring rock samples from the Red Planet back to Earth called the Mars Sample Return multi-mission (MRS). The first return flight from another planet would begin by the 2030 decade, bringing a sealed capsule technology to know if there is life on Mars.
The country's space agency, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), has partnered up with the European Space Agency (ESA) for the joint effort to reap the Perseverance rover's soon-coming mission. The space rocks to return are highly expected by scientists and researchers to determine the possibility of a life form presence or mark on the Red Planet.
NASA and ESA's Second Phase: Mars Sample Return Mission Approved
The Mars 2020 Perseverance mission is expected to reach the neighbor planet's orbit by February 2021 and make a landing by February 18. That specific timeline is exactly two months away from today, which means that the Perseverance spacecraft is close to the Red Planet's vicinity.
According to NASA, the MSR would be a "multi-mission effort to advance to Phase A," which is bringing back the samples that were acquired by the Perseverance rover's coring drill for hands, back to the home planet. The space agency would have almost nine years to create the technology that would receive the return flight's payload as it launches from Mars.
While there were no obvious life forms that were seen with Mars reconnaissance satellites or other technology, researchers would have to look at the microbial life forms on these space rocks. This mission would be more sophisticated and advanced compared to the Artemis and Moon mission's sample return task in the coming years.
NASA Mars Return Mission: How Would the Samples Go Back to the Planet?
The mission would be relatively hard, as there would be no human intervention in all of the processes, apart from remote controls of the rovers from a massive 116 million km (72 million miles) in the current orbit status. February's orbit distance between the two planets does not differ much from the current range and would be a massive gap for the mission's control.
However, NASA is prepared for this one as it already has plans on how to properly secure the payload unto a launcher and attaching to another spacecraft for a grueling 8-month mission back to the planet. According to NASA, there would be a dedicated Sample Fetch Rover to get and seal the samples from Perseverance, and a Mars Ascent Vehicle to launch from the Red Planet.
From there, the Mars Ascent Vehicle, which would also be the first rocket launch from the Red Planet, would give the Earth Return Orbiter all of the gathered samples for its 8-month journey back to Earth. All of these would happen towards the end of the 2020 decade and are expected to return to the home planet in the early 2030s.
Mars' sample missions are ten years in the making, with the Mars 2020 Perseverance mission having launched from the planet earlier this July.
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Written by Isaiah Alonzo