NASA, partner Establishes new research group for the Mars Sample Return Program - Parabolic Arc

NASA, partner Establishes new research group for the Mars Sample Return Program – Parabolic Arc

Lockheed Martin will lead the development of the Mars Ascent Vehicle (pictured), the cruise stage of the Mars Sample Retrieval Lander and the Earth Entry System that will help return the first ever Mars rock samples to Earth. (Credit: NASA)

Sixteen researchers from the United States, Europe, Canada and Japan have been selected to help future samples from the red planet reach their full potential.

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) – NASA and ESA (European Space Agency), its partners in the Mars Sample Return Program, have established a new team of scientists to maximize the scientific potential of Mars rock and sediment samples that would be returned to Earth in depth analysis. Called the Mars Sample Return Campaign Science Group, the 16 researchers will serve as a scientific resource for the campaign’s project team as well as for related terrestrial land projects, such as sample recycling and curation.

“These 16 individuals will be flag bearers of Mars Sample Return science,” said Michael Meyer, lead researcher for the Mars Exploration Program at NASA’s headquarters in Washington. “They will build the roadmap through which the science of this historic endeavor is achieved – including the establishment of sample-making processes and the design of procedures that will enable the worldwide research community to become involved in these first samples from another world.”

The members of the Mars Sample Return Campaign Science Group are:

  • Laura Rodriguez – NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Southern California
  • Michael Thorpe – Johnson Space Center Engineering, Technology and Science at NASA’s Johnson Space Center, Houston / Texas State University, San Marcos
  • Audrey Bouvier – Bayerisches Geoinstitut, University of Bayreuth, Germany
  • Andy Czaja – Department of Geology, University of Cincinnati
  • Nicolas Dauphas – Origins Laboratory, University of Chicago
  • Katherine French – Central Energy Resources Science Center, US Geological Survey, Denver
  • Lydia Hallis – School of Geographical and Earth Sciences, University of Glasgow, UK
  • Rachel Harris – Department of Organic and Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University, Boston
  • Ernst Hauber – Institute for Planetary Research, German Aerospace Center, Germany
  • Suzanne Schwenzer – School of Earth, Environment and Ecosystem Sciences, Open University, UK
  • Andrew Steele – Earth and Planetary Laboratory, Carnegie Institution of Washington
  • Kimberly Tait – Department of Natural History, Royal Ontario Museum, Canada
  • Tomohiro Usui – Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency
  • Jessica Vanhomwegen – Laboratory for Acute Response to Biological Threats, Institut Pasteur, France
  • Michael Veibel – Department of Geosciences and Environmental Sciences, Michigan State University
  • Maria-Paz Zorzano Mier – Astrobiology Center, National Institute for Aerospace Technology, Spain

The first meeting of the Mars Sample Return Campaign Science Group is scheduled for June 28-29.

NASA’s Mars Sample Return Campaign promises to revolutionize humanity’s understanding of Mars by taking scientifically selected samples to Earth for studies using the most sophisticated instruments around the world. The campaign would meet a goal of exploring the solar system, a high priority since the 1970s and during the last three National Academy of Sciences planetary decadal studies.

This strategic partnership between NASA and ESA would be the first mission to return samples from another planet and the first launch from the surface of another planet. The samples collected by NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover during its exploration of an ancient seabed are believed to provide the best opportunity to reveal clues about Mars’ early evolution, including the potential for past life. By better understanding the history of Mars, we will improve our understanding of all rocky planets in the solar system, including Earth.

Read more about the Mars Sample Return Program here:

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