Today, NASA will announce a project to search for life on Mars

NASA is set to make an announcement today about the future of the Mars Sample Return (MSR) project, which, as the name often suggests, aims to return rock and soil samples to Earth.

Rovers on the Red Planet are tasked with collecting samples from it. During their time on an alien world, they found a lot of interesting rocks and soil that deserve more human attention. Earlier this year, for example, Perseverance collected rock samples that may be ideal for finding signs of ancient microbial life.

“Quite simply, this is the type of rock we were hoping to find when we decided to investigate Jezero Crater,” Ken Farley, a Perseverance project scientist at Caltech, explained in an article. statement. “Almost all of the minerals in the rocks we sampled were made in water. On Earth, minerals deposited by water are often good at trapping and preserving ancient organic matter and biosignatures. The rock can also tell us about the climate conditions on Mars that existed when It was formed.”

Early analysis suggests the rock is part of an ancient lake.

But as much as we can learn from the instruments on board, Sample 24 and others like it need to return to Earth to learn more about the ancient climate and geology of Mars and to search for signs of ancient life.

Returning these samples is not a simple task. Although humans have successfully landed robots and probes on Mars (and sometimes even helicopters), we have never launched from the surface of another planet before. In addition to performing this feat for the first time, the Mars sample return mission will next see the sample rendezvous with a spacecraft Bring the samples to the ground.

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If you think, “This sounds expensive,” you will agree with the opinions of the Independent Review Board (IRB) report. Provided to NASA In September 2023. According to a report, the project was created “with unrealistic budget and timeline expectations from the beginning.” Noting the scientific importance of the mission, the review board said that “technical issues, risks and performance to date indicate a near-zero probability” that various aspects of the mission will be ready for launch by the current 2028 timeline.

“Independent review boards like the one we commissioned for Mars Sample Returns help review whether we are on track to achieve our mission goals within the appropriate budget,” Sandra Connelly, NASA's deputy associate administrator for science, said in a report. statement After the report is issued. “We thank the board for its work, and our job now is to evaluate the report and address whether there are elements of the program that need to be changed.”

It was NASA Works on Official response to the report, to be It was revealed today at 1pm EST, with NASA Administrator Bill Nelson and Nikki Fox, Associate Administrator, Science Mission Directorate, scheduled to speak at the update. NASA has not released further information about what that response will be, but, as with large space projects, be prepared for potential project delays, or changes in timelines.

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