The French company Airbus will be in charge of designing a giant satellite ship to bring the first prototype of Mars rocks back to Earth.
The Earth Return Orbiter will weigh about 6 tons and have a wingspan of 39 meters. Photo: Yahoo.
NASA’s next self-propelled robot will drill the specimen on the Martian surface and send it into orbit using a rocket. The mission of the Airbus satellite is to pick up the sample bag and transport it to Earth. The cooperation project between the US and Europe cost billions of dollars and took more than a decade to implement.
However, scientists think this may be the best way to determine if life exists on the red planet. Any controversial evidence requires effective analytical tools unique to Earth laboratories, according to Dr. David Parker, director of the European Space Agency’s (ESA) discovery program. . “I would call it the first interplanetary cargo ship because it’s designed to carry cargo between Mars and Earth.
Dr. Parker announced the role of Airbus in the Earth Return Orbiter (ERO) project at the NASA and ESA press conference ahead of the Perseverance robot launch on July 30. The ERO will weigh 6.5 tons when launched in 2026, using a combination of an electric motor and a chemical fuel engine to reach Mars, orbit the planet and then return to Earth with the specimen. Thales Alenia Space in Italy will be the main design partner. Using an ion engine requires a lot of energy, so the ship will need solar panels. The panels will make the satellite “wingspan” up to 39 m.
But the most difficult part of the mission was to pick up the specimen from orbit. NASA will send rockets to the red planet later this decade to bring rock samples collected by Perseverance into orbit. The Airbus spacecraft must move to the right location to collect the specimen in a balloon-sized container. The ship not only had to transport the specimen over hundreds of millions of kilometers in space, but also had to place the container into the atmosphere of Earth and drop it into deserts in the US. ESA is still drafting the details of the satellite fabrication contract with Airbus and is expected to be signed in September 2020.
Perseverance will target a 40-kilometer-wide basin on Mars called the Jezero Crater. Orbital shots show that the area contained a lake billions of years ago. Scientists think it is more likely that rocks formed at the edge of the reservoir contain chemical traces of the organism in the past if they existed. ESA estimates they will contribute about $ 1.7 billion to the Mars Sample Return project over 10 years.
(According to Yahoo)