This illustration shows a concept for a set of future robots working together to ferry back samples from the surface of Mars collected by NASA’s Mars Perseverance rover.


NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) are solidifying concepts for a Mars sample return mission that would seek to take the samples of Martian rocks and other materials being collected and stored in sealed tubes by NASA’s Mars Perseverance rover and return the sealed tubes to Earth.


According to the current concept, NASA would deliver a Mars lander in the vicinity of Jezero Crater, where Perseverance (left) will have collected and cached samples. The Sample Retrieval Lander (right) would carry a NASA rocket (the Mars Ascent Vehicle), along with ESA’s Sample Fetch Rover (center) that is roughly the size of the Opportunity Mars rover. The fetch rover would gather the cached samples and carry them back to the lander for transfer to the ascent vehicle; additional samples could also be delivered directly by Perseverance. The ascent vehicle would then launch a special container holding the samples into Mars orbit. ESA would put a spacecraft in orbit around Mars before the ascent vehicle launches. This spacecraft would rendezvous with and capture the orbiting samples before returning them to Earth. NASA would provide the capture and containment payload module for the orbiter.

根据目前的构想,NASA将在耶泽罗陨石坑口附近投放一个火星着陆器,毅力号(左)将在那里收集和储存样本。样品回收着陆器(右)将携带NASA的火箭(火星上升飞行器),以及ESA的取样火星车(中间),其大小与机遇号火星车大致相同。取样火星车将收集储存的样本,并将其带回着陆器,以便转移到上升飞行器;额外的样本也可以由 毅力号直接运送。然后,上升飞行器将发射一个装有样品的特殊容器进入火星轨道。欧空局将在上升飞行器发射前将一个航天器送入火星轨道。这个航天器将与轨道上的样品会合并捕获它们,并在将它们送回地球。NASA将为该轨道飞行器提供捕获和控制有效载荷模块。

Image Credit: NASA/ESA/JPL-Caltech

图片来源: NASA/ESA/JPL-Caltech

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