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Return of the Mars Samples -The Search for Life Continues

Chlorides_ody_fig1a_br One of the steps that must take place before humans will ever set foot on Mars, is the return of samples from Mars too Earth. In other words a lander, similar to the ones crawling across the red planet’s surface at the moment, must make it to Mars, and then be able to return samples too Earth.

This type of mission took a huge leap forward recently with the publication of a mission design report by the iMARS Working Group. The report lays out the key elements of what such a mission would look like, and included plans for internationally-funded missions involving the ESA, NASA and other national agencies.

iMARS, which stands for the International Mars Architecture for the Return of Samples is a committee of the International Mars Exploration Working Group made up of scientists, engineers, strategic planners, and managers.

The Mars Sample Return mission will likely take place in the timeframe 2020-2022, and return materials that will hopefully increase the knowledge of the properties of Martian soil and help answer questions about the possibility about life – both past, present and future – on Mars.

"Exploration is gaining momentum year by year, as is the experience and knowledge gained by ESA and its international partners in this area" said Bruno Gardini ESA's Exploration Programme Manager in the Directorate of Human Spaceflight and iMARS study leader. "The information we gain from current Mars missions and from the ISS provide a basis not only for future robotic missions but also a stepping stone for the human exploration missions."

The report laid out and outlined a large list of objectives that will need to be met, and equipment needed to meet such goals. Launchers, spacecraft, Mars lander, a rover, and a Mars ascent vehicle are just a few of the pieces of tech that we will have to send, simply to get something to send back. There are still ground processing facilities that will be needed to contain and analyze samples in a protected environment, so that ground controllers can choose what is sent back home.

Posted by Josh Hill.

Source:
http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2008-07/esa-msr072208.php

Comments

Humanity better figure out fast that pushing the Mars window into the 20's or 30's makes the chances of the project ever succeeding less of a reality.
#1. the garbage in orbit around Earth is becoming more of an issue every year endangering construction of vehicles.
#2 Humanity has built a civilization in a glass house with no insurance policy here on Terra. Global warming, material availablity, asteroid strike, economic insolvency and geo-political collapse are serious threats to this needed project.
#3 we should be discussing Humans coming and going, to and from Mars. We need to recognise the truth about travel to Mars, it's a one way trip. We could begin deployment of systems and gear needed for permanent colonization right now with the target date of firm Human coloniztion by 2020. Sign me up.

Don't analyze on earth. Contamination issues. On the moon or in orbit in case Mr. Murphy decides to visit.

We need to plan more Mars recon missions before the 2020's - 2030's as well as a human presence on Mars. We need to get back into the " space race " with a vengeance, & start being a " two - planet species " like Carl Sagan envisioned,if it sounds like human colonization of Mars or the Moon or the asteroids is a backup strategy to enable long term human survival -Well, it is. It's just common sense. God may be looking out for the human race, but he also helps those who help themselves & plan ahead.

People are justifiably concerned about cross - contamination between ( dormant ) organisms from Mars or other worlds we might get samples from, but we can't be 100 % sure that contamination can happen, like a reverse " War of the Worlds " scenario.

in regard to " nepharous "'s remark - It's going to be a 1 - way trip indeed because future colonists will be planting the seeds of a new civilization rather than flags of Earth - bound nations. I'm quoting from Dr. Neil DeGrasse Tyson of the Smithsonian / History Channel's " The Universe " / PBS " NOVAScience Now ".

Future colonists may even evolve to fit the Martian environment. Whether they might think of themselves as children of Earth is anybody's guess.

At any rate, future survival of the human race may depend on us becoming a 2 or more planet species. Hopefully we won't contaminate Mars like we have Earth.

Its time to take out the space trash thats orbiting around us. If not, there might be serious trouble ahead.

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