NASA is seeking a faster, cheaper way to bring Mars samples to Earth

MARCIA DUNN, Related Press

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — NASA’s plan to convey samples from Mars again to Earth is on maintain till there’s a quicker, cheaper approach, area company officers stated Monday.

Retrieving Mars soil and rocks has been on NASA’s to-do checklist for many years, however the date stored shifting ahead, as prices ballooned. A latest impartial assessment put the entire price at $8 billion to $11 billion, with an arrival date of 2040, a few decade later than marketed.


NASA Administrator Invoice Nelson stated that’s an excessive amount of and too late. He’s asking personal business and the area company’s facilities to give you different choices to revamp the undertaking. With NASA going through across-the-board finances cuts, he desires to keep away from gutting different science initiatives to finance the Mars pattern undertaking.

“We wish to get each new and recent concept that we will,” he stated at a information convention.

NASA’s rover Perseverance already has gathered 24 core samples in tubes since touchdown in 2021 at Mars’ Jezero Crater, an historic river delta. The purpose is greater than 30 samples to scour for potential indicators of historic Martian life.

The area company desires to get a minimum of a few of the collected samples to Earth someday within the 2030s for not more than the $7 billion. That might require a spacecraft that goes to Mars to get the tubes and launches off the planet. Then it should rendezvous with one more spacecraft that might convey the samples to Earth.

NASA’s science mission chief, Nicky Fox, refused to take a position on the information convention when the samples may arrive at Earth, given a brand new program and timeline, and even what number of samples could be returned. That info will probably be included in any proposals, she stated.

“We’ve by no means launched from one other planet, and that’s truly what makes Mars pattern return such a difficult and fascinating mission,” Fox stated.

Scientists are keen to research pristine samples from Mars in their very own labs, far superior to the type of rudimentary testing accomplished by spacecraft on the crimson planet. It should take such in-depth testing to verify any proof of microscopic life relationship again billions of years when water flowed on the planet, in accordance with NASA.

The samples will assist NASA resolve the place astronauts go on Mars within the 2040s, Nelson stated.

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, had been in control of the pattern undertaking. It was hit by tons of of layoffs earlier this 12 months attributable to all of the finances cutbacks. Nelson is searching for concepts from throughout the area company, with the revamped program extra unfold out.

NASA hopes to obtain any concepts by late fall.

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The Related Press Well being and Science Division receives assist from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Science and Academic Media Group. The AP is solely liable for all content material.

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