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NASA Issues Audit on Mars Sample Collection Campaign; Jim Bridenstine, Thomas Zurbuchen Quoted

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Jim Bridenstine
Jim Bridenstine Administrator NASA

NASA has released an independent report detailing the agency’s readiness to conduct a campaign focused on obtaining soil samples from Mars to be used for Earth-based scientific research.

In August, NASA collaborated with the European Space Agency to establish an independent review board responsible for conducting a study on the Mars Sample Return initiative, NASA said Tuesday.

According to the MSR report, the campaign will require the Perseverance rover to collect regolith and cache rock samples which ESA’s “fetch” rover will deliver to NASA’s Mars Ascent Vehicle.

ESA will provide an Earth Return Orbiter intended to transport the samples back to Earth in the 2030s.

“We know there are challenges ahead, but that’s why we look closely at these architectures,” said Jim Bridenstine, administrator of NASA and a former Wash100 Award winner.

“We look forward to continued planning and mission formulation in close partnership with ESA,” noted Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for science at NASA.

Perseverance launched aboard United Launch Alliance’s Atlas V rocket for the Mars mission in July.