Independent research highlights a host of problems that threaten to undermine belief that NASA’s Mars mission can succeed.
For many years, landing on the Red Planet was a dream turned into science fiction, but today space missions to Mars have become a tangible reality with many successes (and also some failures, which are thankfully few). NASA is preparing for its most ambitious Mars mission everBut among the briefings and budgets, it seems that not everything is planned correctly, on the contrary: more and more flaws appear that could seriously jeopardize the mission, turning it into a resounding failure!
To Mars and back
The mission that NASA is working feverishly on is called Mars sample return. the The budget allocated so far is $4.4 billionand the The launch is scheduled for 2028. But what does it consist of?
NASA is building a device called the Sample Retriever Lander, which, as the name suggests, will not simply “walk” on the planet’s surface and take pictures as has already been done in the past. The goal this time is more ambitious: to store samples of Martian soil to study its composition and properties. These samples will be taken from the Perseverance rover and packed into 38 titanium tubes. Once that’s done, SRL will have another mission, which is to enter the rocket called the Mars Ascent Vehicle, built by the famous Lockheed Martin, bringing the precious cargo with it.
At this point you can imagine the rest: the rocket would have to abandon the Red Planet to entrust the “package” just outside the Martian atmosphere to the Earth return vehicle, the construction of which was entrusted to the European Space Agency. This will be the last spacecraft A Returning to Earth, carrying with them the first samples of Martian soil They have never landed on our planet, which makes them available to teams of scientists who will be able to study them like never before, contributing to significantly expanding our cognitive horizons on Mars itself and on our solar system in general.
Studying these samples could provide answers to some of the questions that have tormented scientists for decades, all of which are linked to one basic question: Were organic materials present on Mars in the past? After all, several clues suggest that the planet may have had a very similar shape to Earth, with the possible presence of liquid water on its surface. In short, curiosity is so powerful even for those who are not in the profession that these studies can help provide an answer to the question: Is there life in space?
Houston, we have a lot of problems
It’s all very nice, however The mission is vulnerable to failure even before it begins: Do you remember the numbers and timing I told you about above? Well, according to one Independent research is completely unreliable And unrealistic, both from an economic and a time point of view: the board responsible for conducting independent analyzes of ongoing projects at NASA has in fact issued a resolution Reports The numbers provided by the American space agency are judged to be completely unreliable. According to the commission, in fact, The mission cannot leave before 2030To have a small chance of success, the assignment must include A A budget ranging between 8 and 11 billion dollars, more than double the current number! Moreover, the report is well defined 59 critical elements In a project, failure to correct may result in complete failure of the task.
starting from Location of the Perseverance rover, which should correct its course exactly to arrive in time along the top of Jezero Crater (now at the bottom), where it is assumed that samples could contain elements essential to understanding whether there could be life on Mars. Beyond the technical aspects, the United States politically needs to do this Beat China to the punchBecause it also announced that it is preparing for a similar mission with an expected departure between 2028 and 2030. Because the space race has always been a challenge as well Soft powerNASA absolutely cannot afford to lose this record. Not to mention that this mission is the result of many preparatory missions that the American agency has occupied and participated in for 40 years Expenditures exceeding $20 billion.
NASA responded that it had studied the document and was already working on submitting it Updated version of mission outline by March 2024. In short, more than just a space race, the MSR is increasingly taking on the aspect of a race against time!
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