Space may be the final frontier, but over the past few decades scientists have started to encroach on its territory. They’ve sent rover after rover to Mars, each one built to examine the planet’s surface for valuable information about its composition and history. But there’s only so much testing equipment that you can fit on a rover, let alone design with the durability to land, completely functional, on another planet. That’s why NASA is trying a new method: Bringing Martian rocks back to Earth.
The concept for returning Martian samples to Earth for terrestrial study isn’t a new one. The Mars Sample Return Mission has been in its “conceptual phase” for years, while scientists designed a methodology for getting rockets both to and from the red planet. Now, however, NASA has taken a new step towards getting the mission off the ground by bringing on Lockeed Martin to construct real life rockets.