Mars Sample Return: the next step in exploring the Red Planet ESA

ESA and the Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales (CNES) will be co-hosting, in cooperation with NASA and the International Mars Exploration Working Group (IMEWG), an International Conference on 9 and 10 July in the Auditorium of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France in Paris* to discuss the next step in the exploration of Mars.
We are still collecting data under NASA’s Phoenix, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, Mars Exploration Rover and Mars Odyssey missions, as well as under ESA’s Mars Express mission, as we prepare for even more exciting missions to come, notably NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory and ESA’s ExoMars. Mars exploration is continuing at a steady pace and future missions will integrate scientific payloads and technologies that will eventually serve the ultimate goal of carrying out a manned mission to Mars. The international community has for a long time agreed that the next imperative step, one which will exponentially increase our knowledge and understanding of the Red Planet and its environment, is a Sample Return Mission.