Mars Sample Return
A draft Senate appropriations bill released July 28 would fund NASA at the same overall level the agency requested, but with adjustments to some science, technology and exploration programs.
NASA and the European Space Agency have revised their plans to return samples from Mars, removing a rover and its lander from the effort and replacing them with helicopters modeled on Ingenuity.
House appropriators partially restored funding for a planetary defense mission as part of a spending bill while also raising concerns about NASA’s closure of an airborne observatory and plans to return samples from Mars.
China’s Mars sample return mission aims to collect samples from the Red Planet and deliver them to Earth in 2031, or two years ahead of a NASA and ESA joint mission.
A study outlining priorities in planetary science for the next decade backs continued efforts to return samples from Mars while recommending NASA pursue missions to the planet Uranus and an icy moon of Saturn.
NASA plans to delay the next phase of its Mars Sample Return campaign and split a lander mission into two separate spacecraft to reduce the overall risk of the program.
NASA has selected Lockheed Martin to build a small rocket that will transport samples collected by the Perseverance rover into orbit around Mars.
China is working on a complex mission to collect Mars rock samples and deliver them to Earth by building on the successes of recent moon and Mars missions.
NASA scientists and engineers are working to understand why the first sampling attempt by the Mars rover Perseverance failed to collect any material.
NASA released its fiscal year 2022 budget request May 28, asking for $24.8 billion to support a number of new and existing science and exploration programs but also proposing once again to cancel an airborne astronomical observatory.
With NASA’s Mars Perseverance rover set to begin its multiyear mission to collect rocks and soil for future retrieval, planetary scientists are concerned other Mars research goals could suffer during the decade-long wait for those samples to complete their three-legged relay back to Earth.
On the eve of the landing of the rover Perseverance on Mars, scientists are looking ahead to the work it will do searching for evidence of past life on the planet and collecting samples for return to Earth.
NASA is moving ahead with work on a pair of Mars sample return missions, although some in the planetary science community worry how the cost of that effort will affect other projects.