This illustration shows a concept for multiple robots that would team up to ferry to Earth samples collected from the Mars surface by NASA’s Mars Perseverance rover.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Robotic return of samples from the surface of Mars has been a holy grail goal of Red Planet investigators for many, many years.

Over that time, strategies for returning Red Planet collectibles have ranged from “grab and go” acquisition from the surface, dust collection in the atmosphere, to on-planet scientific selection by specially equipped rovers – a task now underway by NASA’s Perseverance robot wheeling about Jezero Crater.

A Mars Sample Return (MSR) campaign is now being orchestrated by NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA), scooping up geologic and atmospheric samples gathered by Perseverance for return to Earth in the early 2030s.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Shipment back to Earth by robotic means of bits and pieces from Mars is a multi-billion dollar, daunting task. Having our planet on the receiving end of Mars scraps that might contain Martian life is deemed a “low risk” affair in terms of ecological and public safety – but that risk is not zero.

Go to my new Space.com article:

“Mars sample return: Could Red Planet life contaminate Earth?” at:

https://www.space.com/mars-sample-return-contamination-concerns

One Response to “Bringing Home the Goods from Mars: Cache and Carry Sample Return – How Worrisome?”

  • Eyrie says:

    The early 2030’s. SpaceX should have been able to bring back any number of tonnes of Martian samples by then. All carefully tagged and labeled.

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