Scientists Revisit Mars Sample Return Plans

International planning is under way to reinvigorate plans for a Mars sample return mission, with researchers assessing science priorities and strategies to maximize the scientific output from such an undertaking.
Over the last several years, an armada of orbital and surface missions has revealed Mars to be surprisingly more complex than once thought, imbued with a variety of distinct environments — each of value in terms of possible scientific payback given a sample return effort.
Mars samples returned to state-of-the-art Earth laboratories are considered by many to be the only way to unravel a host of unresolved questions about the red planet. A sample return mission also is viewed by many as a key tool to help space agencies prepare for future human expeditions to Mars.