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

James Marshall
July 11, 2018

The European Space Agency (ESA) has granted Airbus a $5.2-million contract to design a new Mars rover.

The brief came from the European Space Agency (ESA), with the aim of collecting and transporting soil samples left by the planned 2020 Mars rover - also now in construction between ESA and Airbus.

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

ESA's ExoMars orbiter, which will act as a relay satellite for the Sample Return mission.

According to ESA, the mission will require three launches.

"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.

Airbus is already in the process of building another rover bound for Mars (ESA'a ExoMars rover) at its Stevenage base and after securing a contract worth £3.9 million from ESA, the knowledge and expertise mastered in that project will now be applied to designing this new mission, which aims to deliver - for the first time - material to Earth from another planet.

The job of the preceding Mars 2020 rover will be to drill and dig up soil samples and to place them in more than 30 tubes at various points. The first will be NASA's Mars 2020 rover, which is scheduled to lift off in July 2020 atop an Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral.

The 2020 Rover will move around Mars, drilling holes in various parts of the planet, putting the samples in small tubes and drop them off at set sites.

David Parker, Director of Human and Robotic Exploration at ESA, said: "Bringing samples back from Mars is essential in more than one way". The Mars Ascent Vehicle will then launch from the surface and put the sample container into orbit about Mars.

"I am very pleased that with these two studies now being commissioned and in combination with other studies conducted elsewhere in Europe we make another important step to explore Mars".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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