Mars Sample Return
Cost overruns on a major rover mission and proposals for both sample return missions and a new orbiter are straining NASA’s Mars exploration program and threatening the future of two ongoing missions.
As NASA gears up a decade-long effort to return samples from Mars, some scientists are worried that the campaign may not leave any funding available for other robotic missions to the planet.
While neither NASA nor ESA has yet to give formal approval, or funding, for missions to return samples from Mars, both agencies are taking steps to refine plans for what those missions will be.
The European Space Agency awarded two contracts to Airbus to study elements of a Mars sample return approach as the outlines of international cooperation with NASA on that effort materialize.