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NASA Pursues New Methods for Mars Sample Return

Sample collection

NASA Pursues New Methods for Mars Sample Return

NASA is sponsoring 10 new studies conducted by aerospace companies and internal research centers to develop cost-effective and faster ways to return Martian samples collected by the Perseverance rover to Earth under the Mars Sample Return Program.

The selected companies include Lockheed Martin, SpaceX, Aerojet Rocketdyne, Blue Origin, Quantum Space, Northrop Grumman and Whittinghill Aerospace, NASA said.

The Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Johns Hopkins’ Applied Physics Laboratory are also conducting studies.

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson, a 2024 Wash100 awardee, emphasized the mission’s complexity, urging for quicker, safer and cheaper approaches. He also expressed his confidence that the collaborative effort will yield innovative solutions and unlock groundbreaking discoveries on Mars.

Upon completion, NASA will evaluate all studies to potentially refine the Mars Sample Return architecture. The initiative aligns with NASA’s long-term objective of understanding Mars’ early history and its potential to harbor life.

A partnership with the European Space Agency, the Mars Sample Return program also fulfills a top priority set by the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine and is expected to significantly enhance understanding of Mars.

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Category: Space