Marco Polo - a mission to return a sample from a Near-Earth Object - science requirements and operational scenarios

Koschny, Detlef; Barucci, Antonella; Yoshikawa, Makoto; Böhnhardt, Hermann; Brucato, John; Coradini, Marcello; Dotto, Elisabetta; Franchi, Ian; Green, Simon F.; Josset, Jean-Luc; Kawaguchi, Junichiro; Michel, Patrick; Muinonen, Karri; Oberst, Jürgen; Yano, Hajime; Binzel, Richard; Agnolon, David and Romstedt, Jens (2009). Marco Polo - a mission to return a sample from a Near-Earth Object - science requirements and operational scenarios. In: 27th International Symposium on Space Technology and Science, 5-12 Jul 2009, Tsukuba, Japan.

URL: http://archive.ists.or.jp/conference/past27.html

Abstract

Marco Polo is a mission to return a sample from a Near-Earth Object of primitive type (class C or D). It is foreseen as a collaborative effort between the Japanese Space Agency (JAXA) and the European Space Agency (ESA). Marco Polo is currently in a Phase-A study. This paper focuses on the scientific requirements provided to the industrial study consortia in Europe as well as the possible mission scenario at the target object in order to achieve the overall mission science objectives.
The main scientific reasons for going to a Near-Earth Object are to understand the initial conditions and evolution history of the solar nebula, to understand how major events (e.g. agglomeration, heating) influence the history of planetesimals, whether primitive class objects contain presolar material, what the organics were in primitive materials, how organics could shed light on the origin of molecules necessary for life, and what the role of impacts by NEOs would be in the origin and evolution of life on Earth.

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