NASA is about to make a big announcement about Mars. Here's what we know. Science alert

We're about to find out what happens with the beleaguered NASA Mars sample return a task. In a few hours — at 1 p.m. EDT — NASA will do just that Host a press conference call Which sets out its recommendations for moving forward.

The mission has continued for several years, with the Perseverance rover deployed in February 2021. Part of the Perseverance mission is to collect interesting samples of Martian rocks to be collected by another mission and returned to Earth.

Last year, the future of the Mars sample return mission was left tenuous after an independent review I decided that the program was “Unrealistic budget and timeline expectations”, “unworkable structure” and “not managed effectively”.

The House and Senate Appropriations Committees then recommended a budget that included a $454,080,000 cut from NASA's 2024 budget. Specifically from the Mars sample return mission. NASA also reduced spending on the mission – Laying off a large number of workers and contractors From the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which is leading the mission.

This has raised some concerns that the mission could be aborted, leaving the Perseverance rover-filled canisters useless on the surface of Mars. NASA's upcoming announcement offers a glimmer of hope, perhaps.

“Mars sample return has been a major long-term goal of international planetary exploration for the past two decades.” The agency writes.

“NASA's Perseverance rover is collecting compelling scientific samples that will help scientists understand the geological history of Mars, the evolution of its climate, and prepare for future human explorers. The return of the samples will also help NASA search for signs of ancient life.”

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the Current plan It has an orbiter launch in 2027, a lander in 2028, and samples from the original Mars that will reach Earth in 2033. The new recommendations provide a way to meet these timelines.

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