The Marco Polo mission: a sample return from a low-albedo Near Earth Object in the ESA Cosmic Vision Program 2015-2025

Michel, Patrick; Barucci, Antonella; Yoshikawa, Makoto; Koschny, Detlef; Boenhardt, Hermann; Brucato, John Robert; Coradini, Marcello; Dotto, Elisabetta; Franchi, Ian; Green, Simon F.; Josset, Jean-Luc; Kawaguchi, Junichiro; Muinonen, Karri; Oberst, Jürgen; Yano, Hajime; Binzel, Rick; Agnolon, David and Romstedt, Jens (2009). The Marco Polo mission: a sample return from a low-albedo Near Earth Object in the ESA Cosmic Vision Program 2015-2025. In: 1st IAA Planetary Defense Conference: Protecting the Earth from Asteroids, 27-30 Apr 2009, Granada, Spain.

Abstract

Marco Polo is a sample return mission to a Near-Earth Object (NEO) which was originally proposed as a joint European-Japanese mission for the scientific program Cosmic Vision 2015-2025 of the European Space Agency (ESA) in June 2007 and selected for an assessment study until fall 2009. The main goal of this mission is to return a sample from a dark taxonomic type (low albedo) NEO for detailed laboratory analysis in order to answer questions related to planetary formation, evolution and the origin of Life. In addition, it will provide detailed information on the physical and chemical properties of a body belonging to the population of potential Earth impactors, and therefore it is also directly relevant to the problems of risk assessment and mitigation. We review basic information on NEOs, potential targets for a sample return mission and the Marco Polo mission, with emphasis on their relevance to impact risk assessment and mitigation. More details on the Marco Polo mission and scientific objectives can be found in [1].

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