Sunday, 22 July, 2018

Airbus Mars rover will send samples back to Earth

GettyImages-919944930 Airbus tapped to design Fetch Mars rover
Sandra Phillips | 11 July, 2018, 20:18

While ExoMars is created to carry several instruments, the Fetch has only one mission- to find Nasa's 2020 rover, collect samples, and bring it back to Earth, according to release.

For some time now, both NASA and its European counterpart, ESA, are working on setting up a so-called Mars sample-return mission. Then, yet another spacecraft will rendezvous with the ascent vehicle in Mars orbit (again, this has never been done before), transfer the samples (never been done), and then that second spacecraft will depart Mars orbit and come back to Earth (you guessed it, that's obviously never been done either).

To that end, Airbus has been awarded a $5.2 million contract by the European Space Agency to develop a concept for a Mars rover which will be able to collect those samples on Mars. With those funds, Airbus will develop its own Mars rover created to complete what NASA has started. The first will be NASA's Mars 2020 mission, which will explore the surface of the planet, pick-up and store a set of samples in canisters placed in strategic areas. The difference is that where Curiosity does all its analysis using its onboard laboratories, Mars 2020 will collect samples and drop them along the way inside of 36 pen-sized metal containers.

Simultaneously, ESA's ExoMars rover will be drilling below the Martian surface to search for evidence of life, and the ExoMars orbiter now sampling Mars' atmosphere will form a crucial part of the communications infrastructure for the Sample Return mission, for which it will act as a relay satellite.

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It is in fact three separate missions that all depend on one another.

David Parker, Director of Human and Robotic Exploration at ESA, said: "Bringing samples back from Mars is essential in more than one way".

It will then have to return to the rocket which transported it to the planet, move the canisters into it, and film the rocket as it takes off from the surface.

Below is a 360-degree rendering of the ExoMars rover, which will be searching for life on subterranean Mars while the Fetch Rover is collecting the 2020 samples.

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