- Parabolic Arc
- May 26, 2023
NASA Invites Comment on Initial Plans for Mars Sample Return Program
WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA is requesting public comment on the scope of a Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the agency’s proposed Mars Sample Return (MSR) campaign. Comments will be accepted through the mail and online through Monday, May 16, 2022.
The agency also is hosting two virtual public meetings about the proposed program at 3 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, May 4, 2022, and 8 p.m. on Thursday, May 5, 2022, at:
An audio-only feed of the public meetings will be available at 510-210-8882, meeting number 901-525-785. The online Webex feed of the meetings will include real-time automated closed captioning. Advance registration for the meetings is not required. The meeting website will be accessible to participants starting about 15 minutes before the event begins.
NASA and the European Space Agency are planning to use robotic Mars orbiter and lander missions launched in 2027 and 2028 to collect samples gathered by NASA’s Perseverance rover. The samples, securely isolated inside a robust Earth Entry System using a layered “container within a container” approach, could be brought to Earth in the early 2030s. The Earth Entry System would then be transported to a specialized MSR sample receiving facility.
The public meetings will include briefings about the status of the National Environmental Policy Act process for the proposed program, as well as its purpose and scientific goals. Meetings will also cover why the Utah Test and Training Range operated by the U.S. Air Force is the proposed landing site for the samples, and what planners are doing to ensure safe and secure return of the samples – a topic known as backward planetary protection.
NASA will consider all comments received during the scoping process in the subsequent development of the MSR Draft Environmental Impact Statement, which is currently scheduled to be released for public comment later this year.
Additional information on the agency’s National Environmental Policy Act process and the proposed NASA-ESA MSR program is available online.
11 responses to “NASA Invites Comment on Initial Plans for Mars Sample Return Program”
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An indefensible waste of time and resources. The Moon is where all attention should be focused until we have established a permanent human presence in cislunar space.
So you’re not in favor of programs like Hubble and New Horizons?
The best answer to that P.K. is I am not in favor of massive defense spending on several programs that make anything NASA does a drop in the bucket. I think that a large percentage of the defense budget should be diverted to Space Solar Power…which starts with humans in factories on, or rather under, the surface of the Moon. But, the return on something like the JWST and robots to the icy moons of the gas and ice giants and other bodies is…astronomical. The whole Martian thing is not so impressive. The amount of money that gets thrown at Mars is not appropriate. It happens for a variety of reasons and none of them valid. I feel the same way about the ISS, which has been a 3 billion and now 4 blllion a year hole in LEO for many years. We know everything we need to know about LEO. It was a dead end in 1968 when Apollo 8 left Earth behind and retreating back to it was a profound mistake. Maybe the worst wrong turn NASA ever made among many.
I enjoy commenting back and forth with you P.K. but I have to go right now and swim for an hour and I will be back in about two hours. I will check back then.
…Space Solar Power…which starts with humans in factories on, or rather under, the surface of the Moon…
I’d love to see that…and I hope you survived your swim.
I am in my 60’s and can still free-style for a solid hour and do 15 rounds on a heavy bag. But I get slower and less ferocious every year. I will be breast-stroking and gently shadow boxing in a few years. And not long after that….well, you know. It is our common fate, what makes us all the same, rocket jesus or homeless crackhead, we are not that much different.
If I thought this program had much significance beyond the notional funding, at vast taxpayer expense, of a few distant-future PhD theses by people now in middle school along with a larger number of peer-reviewed papers by their somewhat more senior colleagues, I might feel like formally commenting. As it is, I will pass. Once SpaceX reaches Mars, any tag-along planetary scientists will be able to gorge themselves on metric tons of samples to their hearts’ content – and likely before any of the samples retrieved through this Rube Goldberg-ian process arrive back on Earth.
I look at this like I do Gateway and SLS/Orion. I choose to be excited about them until something better comes along. That something better will most probably be Starship. And I’m perfectly willing to “jump ship” if and when that happens.
Use SLS for the sample return
I remember that article from way-back-when. This line says it all.
…Based on a 2024 launch, the opportunity falls under the domain of SLS-5, should the current manifest remain unchanged…
I’m afraid that if we’re waiting on Boeing to perform that mission…we’ll be waiting for a long long time.
Here’s a comment: Doing it with a solid ascent stage is an insane waste of flight opportunity. Why did you even bother with MOXIE if you aren’t going to fly at least a hybrid ?