NASA and ESA agree on next steps for Mars Sample Return mission

(ORDO NEWS) — NASA and ESA will begin building a repository for Mars-collected samples. The sample repository will be located in an area near the base of an ancient river delta in Lake Jezero Crater.

This cache will contain samples of carefully selected rocks on the surface of Mars. They could tell the history of Lake Jezero Crater and how Mars evolved, and perhaps even contain signs of ancient life.

Scientists believe that samples with a core of fine-grained delta sediments deposited in the lake billions of years ago are likely to contain evidence of ancient microbial life.

The Sample Vault, a duplicate of the collection that Perseverance keeps on board, is one part of a robust plan to ensure the success of the mission.

The Perseverance rover will be the primary means of delivering collected samples to the launch vehicle. The backup set will be placed in the vault.

“The first repository of samples from Mars can be considered an important risk reduction step for the campaign,” said David Parker, ESA’s director of human and robotic research.

Since Perseverance landed in Lake Jezero on February 18, 2021, the rover has explored 13.2 kilometers of the Martian surface and collected 14 rock samples and one atmospheric sample.

During its first scientific campaign, the rover explored the floor of the crater and found igneous rock.

The second scientific campaign was devoted to the study of sedimentary rocks formed when particles of various sizes settled in a once aquatic environment.

On October 1, the Mars Sample Return mission entered the preliminary design and technology completion phase.

During this phase, the campaign focuses on completing technology development, creating engineering prototypes, evaluating software and hardware, and other risk mitigation activities.

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