What is the purpose of this site?
This Blog will track the status of Mars Sample Return, raise awareness of the risks of returning Mars samples to Earth, and find out how people from many segments of society feel about it.
The NASA Rover Perseverance will land on Mars in February 2021 to begin collecting Mars soil and rocks for return to Earth. It will land near the dark area called Syrtis Major (see the Overview of Mars page on this site for images of Mars and rover landing sites). (NOTE: On mobile devices the menu button is at the upper right.)
Soon after The NASA Rover Perseverance lands, a Chinese Rover named Tianwen-1 will also land on Mars, possibly very close to the the U.S. Perseverance. China returned Lunar samples to the Earth in December, 2020, and has announced the intention to return Mars samples to the Earth in a future mission to Mars.
At the same time a spacecraft from the United Arab Emirates will arrive and go into orbit around Mars.
There are several possible explanations for the nearly simultaneous missions to Mars – the simplest is that all three missions are taking advantage of the same efficient geometry as the two planets neared each other. But this gives an interesting example of the magnitude of effort that would be required to return Mars Samples to Earth. Is this the start of a misguided race to return potentially dangerous Mars microbes to Earth?
Other events, such as the Covid-19 pandemic and the U.S. Presidential election, completely dominate the news, so that the efforts beginning Mars Sample Return are generally unknown to the public. Were you aware? Do you understand the risks?
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