Published: Wed, July 11, 2018
Sci-tech | By Patricia Wade

Airbus to design Mars rover that will collect, return soil samples

Airbus to design Mars rover that will collect, return soil samples

NASA and the European Space Agency agreed in April this year to find out if it was possible to bring soil samples from Mars back to Earth.

After launching to Mars in 2026, the Mars Sample Fetch Rover will retrieve Mars samples left by the Mars2020 rover. Fetch will then return to its lander, which has a cylinder attached to it that contains a Mars Ascent Vehicle. These two elements will be critical parts of a mission to return samples of the planet Mars to Earth before the end of the next decade.

Clearly it would be a mission of huge firsts for humanity, but the real action will start once the samples show up here on Earth. Scientists from around the world will then be able to study the samples in using the latest laboratory equipment and analysis techniques for years to come.

ESA have collaborated previously with Airbus on a variety of satellite systems and cargo spacecraft, as well as exploration missions to both Mars and Venus. Unlike the two rovers NASA now has operating on Mars, Airbus' rover will be able to ship samples back to Earth, giving scientists physical access to soil and rock dust from the Red Planet.

The announcement was made by UK Science Minister Sam Gyimah, who said that Airbus has been awarded a 3.9 million GBP contract by the ESA.

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Landing a rover on Mars is a hard task, but it pales in comparison to the incredible challenge of sending material from the planet back to Earth.

Airbus is no stranger to rover designs and is already building the ExoMars rover, which is set to launch to Mars in 2021 and collect data from the planet.

"Bringing samples back from Mars is essential in more than one way".

The third launch in the one from Mars, which is supposed to get pieces of the Red Planet back to Earth for a closer inspection.

"I am very pleased that with these two studies now being commissioned and in combination with other studies conducted elsewhere in Europe we make another important step to explore Mars".

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