Cache and Not Have: Subsequent Mars Rover to Collect Samples for Return to Earth Someday

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Cache and Not Have: Subsequent Mars Rover to Collect Samples for Return to Earth Someday

On September 29, 2013, Posted by , In BIO, By ,,,,,,,, , With Comments Off on Cache and Not Have: Subsequent Mars Rover to Collect Samples for Return to Earth Someday

sketch of NASA's Mars 2020 rover

ROVING FOR SAMPLES: NASA’s following Mars rover, set to launch in 2020, will acquire and keep Martian rock samples for eventual return to Earth. In September 2013, NASA issued a contact for proposals of devices to pack onboard the rover.
Graphic: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Have rover, need payload. That’s the condition of factors for NASA, which is organizing to start its following rover to Mars in 2020. The rover has ambitious targets, such as browsing for symptoms of habitability and life on the Crimson World, and collecting rock samples to be saved for long term return to Earth. Now, NASA is asking scientists to suggest instruments that will support the spacecraft complete its mission.

The place company released an “announcement of prospect” on September 24 contacting for proposals by December 23. Researchers who plan to put an instrument in the hat must file a heads-up about their strategies, referred to as a discover of intent, by Oct fifteen.

The layout of the 2020 rover will hew closely to that of Curiosity, which landed on Mars in August 2012. The new motor vehicle will have the exact same fundamental body, called a chassis, and will use the identical “sky crane” landing technique to be reduced on to the surface. But the innards of the rover will be all new, showcasing a suite of devices that go outside of what Curiosity can do.

The instruments have to complete specific ambitions for the rover set out in a July report by its Science Definition Crew, which disbanded soon after the report was issued. The targets contain scouting for habitable areas and hunting for possible indicators of previous lifestyle there, these kinds of as microbial fossils and concentrations of natural and organic material. The rover will also be tasked with digging up rock main samples and storing them for long term retrieval and return to Earth by a potential spacecraft, in which they can be examined in laboratories with considerably more innovative devices than anything at all that can be despatched to Mars.

Due to the fact sample storage will get up space inside the rover, nevertheless, it will not be able to have instruments for examining dug-up samples on Mars as Curiosity does. “Curiosity has flown truly higher-finish instruments to do its measurements on the surface area of Mars,” claims Jack Mustard of Brown University, who chaired the Science Definition Staff. “What this coming rover will do is arguably a far better occupation of finding supplies that are exciting. It is somewhat upgraded in its capabilities to do remote measurements. It does not try to do any in situ analysis” like Curiosity’s Sample Examination at Mars (SAM) and Chemistry and Mineralogy (CheMin) instruments do.

But that choice has angered some Mars scientists, who say the rover will have to sacrifice too much of its instrument room for caching samples. “I believe if we’re likely to have a Curiosity copy rover in 2020, it ought to be loaded with devices to do in situ science,” states Robert Zubrin, co-founder and president of the Mars exploration advocacy nonprofit, The Mars Modern society. “This 1 suggests it is heading to have 28 kilograms of science instruments. Curiosity has 80 kilograms. They’ve lowered the science payload by a factor of 3 in buy to have this caching operate, which may not have any utility by any means.” Zubrin says it leaves way too much up to likelihood to have the return of these samples depend on an unspecified mission in the potential making a precision rendezvous and landing at the exact same spot to gather them.

The Science Definition Team customers say the 2020 rover will nevertheless be able to do significant science, and it’s critical to initiate Mars sample return now. “This mission I feel will be on par, in phrases of what we learn, with Curiosity, and keep the long term prospect of becoming ready to understand ten instances more by bringing samples back again to Earth. None of us are heading hunting for Klingons, but we’d be thrilled if we could help discover a sample that is made up of microbes,” states Scott Murchie at Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Laboratory, who was a member of the group.

Scientific American Content material: Information

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