NASA formulates strategy to launch first mission to collect Martian soil samples

December 11th, 2007 - 2:45 pm ICT by admin  

Washington, Dec 11 (ANI): NASA is developing plans to launch the first Mars mission to bring soil samples back to Earth, which will contribute significantly to answering questions about the possibility of life on the red planet.

This mission would be in collaboration with IMARS (International Mars Architecture for Return of Samples), a group formed in 1993 to provide a forum for the international coordination of Mars exploration missions.

“The exciting progress being made by the IMARS team is contributing directly to making this mission a reality in the next decade. All spacefaring nations have a standing invitation from IMEWG (International Mars Exploration Working Group) to participate in IMARS,” said Doug McCuistion, NASA’s Mars Exploration program director, Science Mission Directorate, Washington.

The samples that would be collected, will also increase understanding of the useful or harmful properties of Martian soil. This will go a long way in supporting planning for the eventual human exploration of Mars.

“The potential paradigm-changing science from Mars samples makes this mission a high priority of the National Academy of Sciences,” said McCuistion.

The IMARS team has already made a significant progress in establishing a common strategy for launching a Mars sample return mission and achieving scientific objectives that can be met only by returning Martian soil to Earth.

The review of past engineering work by scientists on a Mars sample return mission, international science priorities, and sample receiving facility requirements, helped the team to formulate the strategy for the new mission.

The next steps in preparing for a Mars sample return mission includes more detailed international trade studies on engineering and mission specifics, greater detail on science and sample requirements, and definition and requirements for Earth-based facilities. (ANI)

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