Exploring Mars with Returned Samples

Grady, Monica M. (2020). Exploring Mars with Returned Samples. Space Science Reviews, 216, article no. 51.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11214-020-00676-9


The international Mars Exploration community has been planning to return samples from Mars for many years; the next decade should see the plans becoming a reality. Mars Sample Return (MSR) requires a series of missions, first to collect the samples, then to return them to Earth, whilst preventing the contamination of both Earth and Mars. The first mission in the campaign, Mars 2020, will land at Jezero Crater in early 2021; samples should return to Earth sometime after 2032. The information to be derived from analysis of martian samples in terrestrial laboratories equipped with state-of-the-art instrumentation is more than recompense for the difficulties of the MSR campaign. Results from analyses of returned samples will enable increased understanding of martian geological (and possibly biological) evolution. They will facilitate preparations for human exploration of Mars and by providing a second set of absolute ages for a planetary surface will validate (or otherwise) application of the lunar crater-age scale throughout the Solar System.

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