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07iC - Mission to Mars - Student Challenge: SAMPLING

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Mars sampling:

Fitted with super-clean sample tubes, NASA’s next Mars rover nears launch date

The addition of 39 super-clean sample tubes, each sterilized in an oven, into the underside of the robotic spacecraft marked one of the final major items to be installed on the Perseverance rover before launch next month. In early July, once the rover is mounted on top of its Atlas 5 rocket, ground crews plan to affix a nuclear battery to the spacecraft that will generate power for years of driving across the surface of Mars.

Mars Sample Return Concept Illustration

The current concept envisions delivering a Mars lander near Jezero Crater, where Perseverance (far left) is caching, or collecting, samples. A NASA-provided Sample Retrieval Lander (far right) would carry a NASA rocket (the Mars Ascent Vehicle), and a second lander, pictured in the background, would carry ESA’s Sample Fetch Rover (center), which is a little smaller than a golf cart. The fetch rover would gather the cached samples left on the surface by Perseverance and transport them to the Sample Retrieval Lander, where they would then be transferred onto the Mars Ascent Vehicle. Perseverance could also deliver additional samples directly to the lander. The Mars Ascent Vehicle would launch a container with the samples inside into orbit. Waiting in Mars orbit would be an ESA-provided Earth Return Obiter, which would rendezvous with and capture the orbiting sample container using a NASA-provided Capture, Containment, and Return System. This system would capture and orient the container, then prepare it for return to Earth inside the Earth Entry System.

Mars Sample Retrieval Lander Concept Illustration

April 21, 2022

This illustration shows a concept for a proposed NASA Sample Retrieval Lander that would carry a small rocket (about 10 feet, or 3 meters, tall) called the Mars Ascent Vehicle to the Martian surface. After being loaded with sealed tubes containing samples of Martian rocks and soil collected by NASA's Perseverance rover, the rocket would launch into Mars orbit. The samples would then be ferried to Earth for detailed analysis.

The lander is part of the multi-mission Mars Sample Return program being planned by NASA and ESA (European Space Agency).

Mars Sample Retrieval Lander-Mars Ascent Vehicle Launch Illustration

This illustration shows a concept for a proposed NASA Mars lander-and-rocket combination that would play a key role in returning to Earth samples of Mars material collected by the Perseverance rover. This Sample Retrieval Lander would carry a small rocket (about 10 feet, or 3 meters, tall) called the Mars Ascent Vehicle to the Martian surface. After using a robotic arm to load the rover’s sealed sample tubes into a container in the nose cone of the rocket, the lander would launch the Mars Ascent Vehicle into orbit around the Red Planet.

Mars Ascent Vehicle (Illustration)

This illustration shows NASA’s Mars Ascent Vehicle (MAV) in powered flight. The MAV will carry tubes containing Martian rock and soil samples into orbit around Mars, where ESA’s Earth Return Orbiter spacecraft will enclose them in a highly secure containment capsule and deliver them to Earth.

Mars Samples in Orbit (Illustration)

This illustration shows NASA’s Mars Ascent Vehicle (MAV), which will carry tubes containing Martian rock and soil samples into orbit around Mars, where ESA’s Earth Return Orbiter spacecraft will enclose them in a highly secure containment capsule and deliver them to Earth.

Perseverance Sample Tube 266

This image, taken in a clean room at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, shows sample tube number 266, which was used to collect the first sample of Martian rock by NASA’s Perseverance rover. The laser-etched serial number helps science team identify the tubes and their contents.

Made chiefly of titanium, each sample tube for Perseverance weighs less than 2 ounces (57 grams) and is less than 6 inches long. A white exterior coating guards against heating by the Sun potentially changing the chemical composition of the samples after Perseverance deposits the tubes on the surface of Mars.

Perseverance's First Cored Mars Rock in Sample Tube

The first cored sample of Mars rock is visible (at center) inside a titanium sample collection tube in this from the Sampling and Caching System Camera (known as CacheCam) of NASA’s Perseverance rover. The image was taken on Sept. 6, 2021 (the 194th sol, or Martian day, of the mission), prior to the system attaching and sealing a metal cap onto the tube.

The image was taken so the cored-rock sample would be in focus. The seemingly dark ring surrounding the sample is a portion of the sample tube’s inner wall. The bright gold-colored ring surrounding the tube and sample is the “bearing race,” an asymmetrical flange that assists in shearing off a sample once the coring drill has bored into a rock. The outermost, mottled-brown disc in this image is a portion of the sample handling arm inside the rover’s adaptive caching assembly.

Mars 2020 Collecting Sample (Artist's Concept)

In this illustration, NASA's Mars 2020 rover uses its drill to core a rock sample on Mars.

Scheduled to launch in July 2020, the Mars 2020 rover represents the first leg of humanity's first round trip to another planet. The rover will collect and store rock and soil samples on the planet's surface that future missions will retrieve and return to Earth. NASA and the European Space Agency are solidifying concepts for a Mars sample return mission.

Fetch Rover Approaching Sample Tubes (Artist's Concept)

This illustration shows a concept of what a rover fetching rock and soil samples on Mars for return to Earth could look like. The sample tube in this image would have been left on the surface by a previous mission, NASA's Mars 2020 rover.

NASA will deliver a Mars lander in the vicinity of Jezero Crater, where the Mars 2020 rover will have collected and cached samples. The lander will carry a NASA rocket (the Mars Ascent Vehicle) along with ESA’s Sample Fetch Rover that is roughly the size of NASA's Opportunity Mars rover. The fetch rover will gather the cached samples and carry them back to the lander for transfer to the ascent vehicle; additional samples could also be delivered directly by Mars 2020. The ascent vehicle will then launch a special container holding the samples into Mars orbit.

ESA will put a spacecraft in orbit around Mars before the ascent vehicle launches. This spacecraft will rendezvous with and capture the orbiting samples before returning them to Earth. NASA will provide the payload module for the orbiter.

Mars Sample Return Lander Touchdown (Artist's Concept)

In this illustration of a Mars sample return mission concept, a lander carrying a fetch rover touches down on the surface of Mars.

NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) are solidifying concepts for a Mars sample return mission after NASA's Mars 2020 rover collects rock and soil samples, storing them in sealed tubes on the planet's surface for future return to Earth.

NASA will deliver a Mars lander in the vicinity of Jezero Crater, where Mars 2020 will have collected and cached samples. The lander will carry a NASA rocket (the Mars Ascent Vehicle), along with ESA’s Sample Fetch Rover that is roughly the size of NASA's Opportunity Mars rover. The fetch rover will gather the cached samples and carry them back to the lander for transfer to the ascent vehicle; additional samples could also be delivered directly by Mars 2020. The ascent vehicle will then launch a special container holding the samples into Mars orbit.

ESA will put a spacecraft in orbit around Mars before the ascent vehicle launches. This spacecraft will rendezvous with and capture the orbiting samples before returning them to Earth. NASA will provide the payload module for the orbiter.

Robotic Arm Transferring Tubes From Fetch Rover to Lander (Artist's Concept)

In this illustration of a Mars sample return mission concept, a robotic arm transfers samples of Martian rock and soil from a fetch rover onto a lander.

NASA and the European Space Agency are solidifying concepts for a Mars sample return mission after NASA's Mars 2020 rover collects rock and soil samples and stores them in sealed tubes on the planet's surface for potential future return to Earth.

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