Airbus working on Mars rover to bring soil samples back to Earth

Federico Mansilla
Julio 11, 2018

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.

To that end, Airbus has been awarded a $5.2 million contract by the European Space Agency to develop a concept for a Mars rover which will be able to collect those samples on Mars. It will be used to deploy a so-called Sample Fetch Rover, a machine Airbus is now working on.

A mission to return samples from Mars isn't of much use if they don't actually return, which is why ESA is working on a new robotic rover to retrieve containers of Martian rock and soil left behind by NASA's Mars 2020 rover.

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.

According to ESA, the mission will require three launches.

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The rover will be created to collect soil sample canisters left behind by NASA's Mars 2020 rover, and will have to detect these canisters and place them in its storage space after driving to them autonomously.

"This remarkable new project, which will see samples brought back from Mars to Earth for the first time ever, demonstrates Britain's world-leading scientific and engineering innovation", says Britain's Science Minister Sam Gyimah. The goal of the container is to make sure that the samples not only survive, but that the samples will neither be contaminated by Earth microbes or the Earth by any microbes it might contain. Airbus has already been working on a project of their own naming ExoMars which is bound to go to the red planet in 2021.

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

NASA's Mars 2020 rover is going to dig up soil samples and store them in more than 30 tubes which will be dropped at various points.

"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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