Projection of things to come. BTW: notice the SpaceX disappearing act from previous NASA charts and the addition of China for a return sample mission. Credit: NASA


NASA is blueprinting its beyond Mars 2020 rover plans, focusing on returning samples from the Red Planet.

In a “Review of Progress Toward Implementing the Decadal Survey Vision and Voyages for Planetary Sciences” briefing yesterday at the J. Erik Jonsson Woods Hole Center in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA’s Science Mission Directorate Associate Administrator detailed some Mars sample return thinking.




Also, go to my earlier story that gives you the “inside scoop” on Mars sample return:

China card

Interestingly, now infused on the NASA overview chart is China’s Mars plans of Red Planet exploration, including an orbiter, lander and sample return. Then there’s the missing-in-powerpoint projection of Elon Musk’s SpaceX Dragon landings.

Propulsive Platform Lander
Credit: NASA

Presently on the table are two NASA concepts that leverage Mars program legacy system capabilities to shoot back to Earth specimens of the Red Planet: a Propulsive Platform Lander and a Skycrane-Delivered Platform.

Skycrane-Delivered Platform
Credit: NASA

Here are a few briefing charts from Zurbuchen’s presentation on the NASA Mars exploration program.

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