NASA announced on Monday that it’s changing its plans for the Mars Sample Return (MSR) mission because it would cost too much and take too long to bring the samples back to Earth.
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NASA announced on Monday that it’s changing its plans for the Mars Sample Return (MSR) mission because it would cost too much and take too long to bring the samples back to Earth.

The MSR mission aimed to collect samples like rocks, soil, and air from Mars and send them back to Earth using the Mars Perseverance rover. This rover, which landed in 2021, has been gathering and storing samples in special containers. The mission was a collaboration with the European Space Agency.

During a meeting, NASA’s leader Bill Nelson said they’re committed to getting the samples, but it would cost too much, around $8 billion to $11 billion, and the samples might not come back until 2040. Nelson said waiting that long isn’t okay, especially when they plan to send astronauts to Mars in the 2040s.

To make the mission happen sooner and for less money, NASA is asking for help from their community, including the Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL). They want to come up with a new plan that’s simpler and less risky. They’ve asked these teams to come back with new ideas by the fall.

Originally, they planned for the sample-return spacecraft to launch in 2027, with a lander following in 2028. But now, they need to find a quicker and cheaper way to bring the samples back.

Despite the challenges, getting these samples is important. They could help scientists learn about Mars’s history and climate and search for signs of ancient life. So, NASA is determined to figure out a new plan to make it happen sooner.

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