MarsNews.com
September 15th, 2015

Project ‘Red Dragon’: Mars Sample-Return Mission Could Launch in 2022 with SpaceX Capsule

red-dragon-mission-concept

Scientists have blueprinted a low-cost Mars sample-return mission that would use a souped-up Dragon capsule from the private spacefligth company SpaceX and the firm’s planned Falcon Heavy rocket to get to the Red Planet by the early 2020s.

The new study demonstrates the viability of the entry, descent and landing of the unmanned Dragon space capsule at Mars. Moreover, the spacecraft’s descent technique would help set the stage for future human missions to the Red Planet, researchers said.

The idea is to leverage emerging commercial capabilities to achieve Mars sample-return (MSR) without breaking the bank, perhaps in 2022. Most scientists regard a sample-return trip as a “Holy Grail” mission — the best way to look for signs of past or present life on the Red Planet.

July 24th, 2015

A New Way to Prepare Samples of Mars for Return to the Earth Planetary Society

Mars 2020, NASA’s next and yet-to-be-named Mars rover, will be the first mission to collect and prepare samples of the martian surface for return to Earth. This process is known as caching, and it is the crucial first step of a fully-born sample return campaign that could define the next two decades of robotic Mars exploration. Recently, the Mars 2020 engineering team proposed a new caching strategy that differs from previous concepts in some interesting ways.

JPL calls this adaptive caching, but I like to think of it more as the cache depot strategy. This means that after coring samples and placing them into hermetically-sealed tubes (the same process for any sort of caching), the rover will then deposit groups of samples on the ground throughout its drive. A future rover would retrieve some or all of these samples, place them in a rocket, and launch them into Mars orbit.

January 8th, 2015

Are there fossils on Mars? The Christian Science Monitor

A careful study of images taken by the NASA rover Curiosity has revealed intriguing similarities between ancient sedimentary rocks on Mars and structures shaped by microbes on Earth. The findings suggest, but do not prove, that life may have existed earlier on the Red Planet.
The photos were taken as the Mars rover Curiosity drove through the Gillespie Lake outcrop in Yellowknife Bay, a dry lakebed that underwent seasonal flooding billions of years ago. Mars and Earth shared a similar early history. The Red Planet was a much warmer and wetter world back then.
On Earth, carpet-like colonies of microbes trap and rearrange sediments in shallow bodies of water such as lakes and coastal areas, forming distinctive features that fossilize over time. These structures, known asmicrobially-induced sedimentary structures (or MISS), are found in shallow water settings all over the world and in ancient rocks spanning Earth’s history.

June 24th, 2014

Next stop – Mars: China aims to send rover to Red Planet within six years South China Morning Post

China has ambitious plans to touch down on Mars by 2020, likely with a rover, and to collect its own samples from the red planet 10 years after that, a top aerospace scientist has revealed.
China already sent a probe, the Jade Rabbit (or Yutu) to the moon last year. It is expanding its horizons this time.
Ouyang Ziyuan, chief scientist of the country’s lunar project, said the new Mars programme aimed to create space probes – an orbiter and rover – for Mars, according to the Beijing Times.

June 16th, 2014

Incredible Technology: Private Mars Mission Could Return Samples by 2020 Space.com

A private mission could return Martian samples to Earth by 2020 without even touching down on the Red Planet.
The BoldlyGo Institute, a Colorado-based nonprofit, is working to develop the Sample Collection to Investigate Mars (SCIM) mission, which would send a spacecraft skimming through the atmosphere of Mars to gather dust and return home, without the difficulty of landing. SCIM could launch as soon as 2018, possibly returning samples to Earth in July 2020.
“It sounds very daring, but it’s really very doable,” Laurie Leshing, a member of the BoldlyGo board of directors, said during a presentation June 3 at the 224th American Astronomical Meeting in Boston. “This is something we can do today.”

June 3rd, 2014

Mars spacecraft research lands University of Exeter student top international fellowship Mid Devon Star

A student at the University of Exeter has been honoured with a prestigious international award, designed to promote female excellence in the pioneering sphere of aerospace research.
Anusha Mujumdar has been selected to receive a Zonta International Amelia Earhart Fellowship – one of only 35 students worldwide to be bestowed with the coveted award.
The third year PhD student in Applied Mathematics, from Bangalore, received the award to assist in her pioneering research, which will be used to help develop space craft control for the proposed Mars Sample Return mission, scheduled to take place in the 2020s.

March 7th, 2014

Project ‘Red Dragon’: Mars Sample-Return Mission Could Launch in 2022 with SpaceX Capsule Space.com

Scientists have blueprinted a low-cost Mars sample-return mission that would use a souped-up Dragon capsule from the private spacefligth company SpaceX and the firm’s planned Falcon Heavy rocket to get to the Red Planet by the early 2020s.
The new study demonstrates the viability of the entry, descent and landing of the unmanned Dragon space capsule at Mars. Moreover, the spacecraft’s descent technique would help set the stage for future human missions to the Red Planet, researchers said.
The idea is to leverage emerging commercial capabilities to achieve Mars sample-return (MSR) without breaking the bank, perhaps in 2022. Most scientists regard a sample-return trip as a “Holy Grail” mission — the best way to look for signs of past or present life on the Red Planet.

November 12th, 2013

Martian moon samples will have bits of Mars Brown University

A Russian mission to the Martian moon Phobos, launching in 2020, would return samples from Phobos that contain bits and pieces of Mars itself. A new study calculates how much Martian material is on the surface of Phobos and how deep it is likely to go.

September 27th, 2013

Cache and Not Carry: Next Mars Rover to Collect Samples for Return to Earth—Someday Scientific American

Have rover, need payload. That’s the state of things for NASA, which is planning to launch its next rover to Mars in 2020. The rover has ambitious goals, including searching for signs of habitability and life on the Red Planet, and collecting rock samples to be stored for future return to Earth. Now, NASA is asking scientists to propose instruments that will help the spacecraft accomplish its mission.
The space agency released an “announcement of opportunity” on September 24 calling for proposals by December 23. Researchers who plan to put an instrument in the hat must file a heads-up about their plans, called a notice of intent, by October 15.

December 11th, 2012

The resurrection of Mars Sample Return The Space Review

There had been rumors for a couple of weeks that NASA would make a big announcement about Mars at one of the largest annual meetings of scientists, the American Geophysical Union (AGU) conference in San Francisco. The rumors were about the possibility that NASA’s Curiosity rover had discovered something very interesting on Mars. As it turned out, the Curiosity science results, although interesting, were not nearly up to the hype. But NASA did make a major announcement at AGU: NASA is taking the first step towards the ultimate scientific goal for the red planet, Mars Sample Return.
You can be forgiven if you missed it, because NASA was careful not to use the words “Mars Sample Return” in their press release. Instead, they announced that they are going to build another rover, based on the successful Curiosity design and using some spare parts manufactured for Curiosity, to be launched in 2020. In the official press release, NASA stated that the instrument suite is still to be determined. But make no mistake, this is the first step toward sample return, and in many ways represents a major reversal for the Obama Administration.
To understand what happened, you have to know the context.