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Mars Sample Return: An independent review criticizes various aspects. Are there problems ahead?

Mars Sample Return: An independent review criticizes various aspects. Are there problems ahead?

Tomorrow, samples collected by the OSIRIS-REx probe of the asteroid Bennu will arrive on Earth. This is not the first time humanity will get this “With hands” This type of sample considering that the same thing happened to the Japanese missions Hayabusa and Hayabusa2. These samples, as well as those collected on the Moon by various missions (Soviet, American, and Chinese), represent the only samples collected outside Earth, from other celestial bodies. One of the most ambitious tasks for the future Mars sample return Born from collaboration between NASA And European Space Agency.

The two space agencies have been collaborating for some time to determine how to bring this about Mars On earth I am Samples collected From NASA’s Perseverance rover. The challenge is daunting and will be the first time that humanity will be able to study materials from another planet in depth (if we exclude meteorites of Martian origin found on our planet). there Mars sample return mission It has seen some changes in the past, but one New independent review Many limitations are stressed because timing Choices and AI Finance necessary to complete it.

Mars sample return mission and independent review

This is not the first time that the mission to bring samples from Mars to Earth has been criticized in some aspects. In the Independent review Recently published Various crucial issues will be examined and, in particular, the fact that preparation will be noted Lander that it Orbital vehicle (paid for by NASA and the European Space Agency, respectively) A launch scheduled between 2027 and 2028 would currently be unfeasible from both an engineering and financial standpoint. You can read on page 13 “Unrealistic budget and expectations for the program from the beginning.”.

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This does not mean that the mission is technically feasible but that it does not have the current characteristics in terms of funding and timing. It seems that the independent review is more than that “pessimist” Compared to before, which confirms the report at the end of June 2023. And at present Mars sample return mission You may need to budget in between 8 and 11 billion dollars In exchange for the $5.3 billion that the US Senate will impose.

according to Independent review The lander and orbiter could be launched in 2030 while minimizing costs $9.6 billion. This plan will require funding of more than $1 billion annually starting in 2025, as written on page 14 of the report. Then there are variables such as the possibility that the orbiters that provide communication between Mars and Earth may encounter problems or the presence of sand storms during the landing or departure phases.

Some alternative proposals suggest, for example only (on page 36), that two Ingenuity-like drones could be eliminated to retrieve spare samples by focusing primarily on the lander and robotic arm. Or split the mission into two submissions with two sample recovery rovers using proven technologies such as a lander system com. skycrane (smaller than those used previously) and the lander you will always use for landing com. skycrane But bigger. In this way, the necessary budget will be reduced annually, but it is expected to be launched between 2030 and 2035.

In general it is believed that the scientific value of Samples to Mars sample return High but it will be necessary to be able to bring all available test tubes to Earth, not just the ones that will have Perseverance inside. In general, priority will remain that of the rover, while backups do not account for all the variation in the regions analyzed on Mars. now NASA We will try to understand the right path to follow even if it seems increasingly difficult that we will be able to obtain samples from Mars by 2033. Or perhaps China could arrive first and plan a similar mission.

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