NASA in association with ESA has signed a so-called Letter of Intent that will involve the first “round trip” to a different planet. This decision was taken within a meeting that was held in Berlin, Germany, where the topic of discussion was to adopt the different science goals and the desired feasibility of a Mars Sample Return (MSR) Mission. This pact will help the scientists in dealing the questions and different queries about Martian history. One of the most important questions that the scientists will face will be if the Red Planet at any point of time supported life. Scientists in that meeting accepted the fact that there was only little that they could find out from the Martian meteorites or the rovers or the various static Landers that they had sent to Mars.
The next step surely would have been to collect samples from Martian surface, release them into space with the help of a capsule and thereafter land them with a safety on the Earth. Thereafter they could be taken to the laboratory for further inspection and analysis using equipment that is too big and consumes a lot of energy for the purpose of carrying in the form of part of a robotic rover’s payload as well as techniques which are in another way difficult to execute from 55 kilometers away.
This particular decision was made at the ILA Berlin Air and Space Show, which is happening parallel with the Mars meeting. Dr. Thomas Zurbuchen who is the associate administrator for science in NASA said that they wanted to tie up with ESA and also with the other partners. He further added this decision will also involve tie-ups with the commercial space companies. He also mentioned the fact that NASA does not have any interest in developing that equipment which they will be able to buy from the outside market.
Dave Parker who is the director at ESA for human and robotic exploration viewed that it is very important that every time we send any spacecraft to the Mars it must be capable of finding anything unusual or out of the sort things. Such findings will, in turn, help us to prepare for the next mission. The planning of NASA for the 2020 rover mission will help to a great extent for the Mars Sample Return. It will simply drill into the surface and collect the requisite samples.