How a Mars Sample Return Mission Can Go Electric

Solving the mystery of life on Mars requires robots to collect Martian samples for a return to Earth — a mission that may come with the astronomical price tag of $5 billion to $10 billion. That round trip to the Red Planet could become cheaper by using electric propulsion.
The Mars sample return (MSR) mission would require powerful electric thrusters and efficient solar panels which are presently under development worldwide or even already existing. Such technology would allow the Mars mission to lighten the load of chemical propellant carried by traditional rockets and spacecraft — and it’s within reach for a mission to try recovering Martian rocks and soil in the next decade or two.