NASA’s Mars Exploration Program at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL),
Pasadena, CA, has awarded four industry team contracts to conduct initial
studies of specific implementation scenarios for a first Mars sample return
mission that might be launched as early as 2011.

The four teams selected are:

_ Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corporation, Boulder, CO

_ Boeing Company, Huntington Beach, CA

_ Lockheed Martin Corporation, Denver, CO

_ TRW, Redondo Beach, CA

The contracts are valued at $1 million each and are to be performed over a six-
month period.

These studies will formulate a broad suite of potential solutions to robotically
acquiring rock and soil samples from Mars. NASA will select the best solutions
for further development.

“These studies will help identify potential approaches to the mission, technology
development and demonstration needs, and the infrastructure required to
perform such a mission,” said Dr. Firouz Naderi, the Mars Program Manager at
JPL. “The studies are an important part of determining potential future Mars
program direction over the next decade given that the underlying science
trajectory for the program calls for the earliest possible ‘informed’ Mars Sample
Return mission.”