NASA and ESA reveal how their plan to recover soil samples on Mars works

NASA  and ESA have released a new video explaining how they will recover Martian soil samples for study on Earth .


NASA  and ESA , the United States and European space agencies respectively, maintain an alliance in the form of the Mars Sample Return Program . This project seeks to ensure that the return of Martian soil samples to Earth can be achieved without human intervention and to date it is considered one of the most important in history due to its ambitious nature and the multiple benefits it could bring to Earth. exploration of the elusive “red planet”.

While some details about this plan by the space agencies were previously shared, a new report published on the official ESA website provided more information about how the Mars Sample Return Program will work . This mission will consist of sending a robotic arm about 2.5 meters long to said planet. The device has a range of sensors, two cameras and a clamp to collect the capsules with the samples.

The robotic arm will transport tubes filled with sample capsules to a rocket bound for Earth . In order to achieve this feat, you will need to bring these items to the Mars Ascent Vehicle spacecraft .

The most ambitious project of NASA and ESA

According to what the European Space Agency mentions in its publication, “the sample transfer arm is designed to be autonomous, highly reliable and robust” . In addition, the ESA notes that the robot will be capable of “performing a wide range of movements with seven degrees of freedom . “

NASA has been collecting samples on Mars for some time now using the Perseverance rover , but there is still a huge amount of stuff to collect on Martian soil. The Mars Sample Return Program robotic arm will also search for some samples that were stranded near the lander by Ingenuity helicopters.

A long-term mission to unravel the mysteries of Mars

In addition to the explanation, the ESA report included an animated video showing the operation of the Sample Retrieval Lander ‘s robotic arm collecting soil samples on Mars . Following this process, it is inserted into the Mars Ascent Vehicle ‘s sample store and, once collection is complete, the vehicle will be rocketed into orbit, where it will be recovered by the Return-to-Earth Orbiter .

While this plan is still a long way off, NASA and ESA anticipate the launch of the Return-to-Earth Orbiter to take place in 2027. On the other hand, the Sample Retrieval Lander would still take until 2028. After the Mars Ascent Vehicle rendezvous with the Earth Return Orbiter, NASA and ESA expect to obtain the first samples by this method on Earth during 2033 for further analysis.