Published: Wed, July 11, 2018
Science | By Michele Flores

Airbus working on Mars rover to bring soil samples back to Earth

Airbus working on Mars rover to bring soil samples back to Earth

ESA has now awarded the initial £3.9 million (US$5.2 million) contract to design the new Fetch rover to Airbus, which will undertake the study in Stevenage, England.

Both Sample Fetch Rover and Earth Return Orbiter are part of ESA-NASA's proposed Mars Sample Return mission that is looking to be approved at the 2019 ESA council at ministerial level.

A concept image of the rover designed by Airbus is below.

NASA's Mars 2020 rover is going to dig up soil samples and store them in more than 30 tubes which will be dropped at various points. "A double first of launching from the planet's surface and the in-orbit transfer of the samples means it will be possible for the first time to directly study Mars soil in laboratories on Earth". According to the United Kingdom government, this new rover will pick up sample collected by NASA's Mars 2020 rover and then transfer them back to an ascent vehicle. The deal is worth £3.9 million, which is over $5.1 million Dollars, and follows on the heels of the Mars 2020 mission which will include another rover built by the same company.

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Stay up to date by getting stories like this delivered to your mailbox.Sign up to receive our free weekly Spatial Source newsletter. The company's Autonomous Systems Group will also be contributing to the ESA Mars rover mission.

David Parker, Director of Human and Robotic Exploration at ESA, said: "Bringing samples back from Mars is essential in more than one way".

"This remarkable new project, which will see samples brought back from Mars to Earth for the first time ever, demonstrates Britain's world-leading scientific and engineering innovation", says Britain's Science Minister Sam Gyimah. It will have to collect every canister that 2020 Rover leaves behind and then get back to the rocket it landed on Mars with, then take off and come to Earth.

If all goes according to plan, the first samples of Martian soil on Earth before the end of the next decade - and the first footage of a liftoff from Mars.

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