NASA Mars 2020 rover is designed to collect samples, store the specimens in tubes, then deposit the tubes on the surface for later pick-up.
Credit: NASA/ESA


The move is on to pull together a robotic sample return from Mars mission. A new video details how such an undertaking would be staged. It would require at least three missions from Earth and one never-been-done-before rocket launch from Mars.

A first mission already being built is NASA’s 2020 Mars Rover. This robot is set to collect surface samples in pen-sized canisters as it explores the Red Planet. Up to 31 canisters will be filled and readied for a later pickup.

A small fetch rover would pick up soil samples for delivery to a Mars Ascent Vehicle.
Credit: NASA/ESA

A second mission with a small fetch rover would land nearby and retrieve the samples in a Martian search-and-rescue operation. This rover would bring the samples back to its lander and place them in a Mars Ascent Vehicle – a small rocket to launch the football-sized container into Mars orbit.

Mars Ascent Vehicle lifts off from Mars carrying soil samples.
Credit: NASA/ESA




A third launch from Earth would provide a spacecraft sent to orbit Mars and rendezvous with the sample container.

Once the samples are safely collected and loaded into an Earth entry vehicle, the spacecraft would return to Earth, release the vehicle to land in the United States, where the samples will be retrieved and placed in quarantine for detailed analysis by a team of international scientists.

Mars Ascent Vehicle heads for orbit.
Credit: NASA/ESA

Orbiter would capture the capsule containing Mars samples for delivery back to Earth.
Credit: NASA/ESA




















Take a look at this informative video from NASA/ESA:

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