Contracts awarded for initial Mars sample return studies NASA

NASA’s Mars Exploration Program at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., has awarded four industry team contracts to conduct initial studies of specific implementation scenarios for a first Mars sample return mission that might be launched as early as 2011. The contracts are valued at $1 million each and are to be performed over a six-month period. These studies will formulate a broad suite of potential solutions to robotically acquiring rock and soil samples from Mars. NASA will select the best solutions for further development.