On Tuesday, an independent panel reported that the National Agency of Space Administration (NASA) is miscalculating the amount of time and money they will need to bring Mars rocks back to Earth. NASA plans to bring back rocks from Mars in the coming decade. Their Perseverance rover is tasked to collect the best geological samples after landing in February.
As per Associated Press reports, the review board has put forward that NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) need to reconsider the time and money they plan to spend on the upcoming mission. They said that the two agencies need to bump the next launches in the sample-return effort during 2026-2028 to come over the technological challenges. They also said that the delays would shoot up the cost and the planning budget would soar to $4 Billion or more. The panel noted that the new budget is $1 Billion more than the current intended budget.
The AP news report states that NASA’s Perseverance rover is already more than halfway to Mars. It also said that the rover would aim for Jezero Crater. Scientists believe that the Jezero Crater may be an ancient river delta and have fostered microscopic life once. They intend to analyze the Perseverance-recorded samples in the best laboratories on Earth. Scientists are hoping to discover if the atmosphere of Mars could have harbored life. They aim to bring the samples back in the early 2030s.
NASA and ESA have collaborated to develop a lander on Mars
Therefore, both NASA and ESA have come together to develop a lander to fetch the samples. This include:
- A rocket to get them off to the surface of Mars, and
- An orbiting spacecraft to accept them and return them to Earth.
The report noted that all this gear would require two separate launches from the surface of Earth.
David Thompson is the chairman of the review board and retired chief executive of Orbital ATK. He said to reporters that a two-year launch delay is apt for the best chances of success. The report also said that at the same time no one is asking NASA to slow down on their mission, as per Maria Zuber of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
As per reports, Thomas Zurbuchen, Science Mission Chief of NASA has said that the space agency would re-evaluate the mission dates and would look into all possible options. AP News has Zuburchen quoting, “it’s full steam ahead … we’re not taking a break in any fashion.”