Scientists will have to wait a little longer for pristine Martian samples that may hold evidence of life on the ancient red planet.
NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) are working together to return dozens of samples from Mars to Earth, which are being collected by NASA. perseverance rover On the floor of Jezero Crater, which is 28 miles (45 kilometers) wide. NASA officials said Jezero is a great place to do such work, because billions of years ago it housed a large lake and river delta, potentially tempting habitats for life.
The Initial plan He called for the 2026 launch of a Return Lander (SRL) carrying NASA’s Mars Ascent Vehicle (MAV) and a European Space Agency (ESA) lander. The fetcher will pick up a container containing the persistence samples and return them to the MAV, which will launch them on Mars revolves in orbit. There, the sample container will be transferred to the European Space Agency’s (ERO) Earth Return Orbiter, which will return the material to Earth in 2031.
NASA announced today (March 28) that the plan has changed a little.
“Detailed analysis of the SRL landing block requirements prompted NASA to adopt a dual landing structure, with the second lander carrying the European rover,” NASA officials wrote in a letter. Description of the agency’s customizations in the White House Federal Budget Request for 2023. This request, which has yet to be approved by Congress, Gives NASA $26 billion For the fiscal year 2023, which begins on October 1.
“Developing a second landing craft requires moving to a 2028 launch date and a 2033 model return date and complies with Independent Review Board of the return of the Martian sampleAnd they (IRB) discovered that the dual craft architecture may improve the probability of mission success.”
The launch of the ERO, from 2026 to 2027, has also been postponed, according to budget documents.
The budget request allocates $822 million for the Mars sample in fiscal year 2023, up $169 million for the project over last year’s request. The increase does not occur in a vacuum. “It stresses the rest of the planetary science portfolio and may affect the balance of the portfolio in the coming years,” NASA officials wrote in the budget document.
For example, the additional money now required for the return of the Mars sample was a factor in NASA’s decision to postpone the launch of the NEO mission by two years, to no later than 2028, and to withhold funding for an international Ice Mapping Project on Marsagency officials wrote.
Mike Wall is the author of “AbroadBook (Great Grand Publishing House, 2018; illustrated by Carl Tate), a book on the search for extraterrestrials. Follow him on Twitter Tweet embed. Follow us on Twitter Tweet embed or on Facebook.