Published: Wed, July 11, 2018
Research | By Jody Lindsey

Airbus to design new Mars rover

Airbus to design new Mars rover

If all goes well, a third mission, ESA's Earth Return Orbiter, will be on station to collect the samples and seal them away inside an armored, biologically isolated container to protect it on the trip back to Earth.

The new rover will be designed at Airbus's site in the United Kingdom town of Stevenage, just north of London, and is another boon to the UK's burgeoning space sector, which is now worth an estimated £13.7 billion to the nation's economy. This will mark the first time Mars samples have been delivered to our own planet. The goal of the container is to make sure that the samples not only survive, but that the samples will neither be contaminated by Earth microbes or the Earth by any microbes it might contain. Scientists from around the world will then be able to study the samples in using the latest laboratory equipment and analysis techniques for years to come.

The announcement was made by UK Science Minister Sam Gyimah, who said that Airbus has been awarded a 3.9 million GBP contract by the ESA. It'll a number of years before we see Mars samples arrive on Earth, however.

Airbus is no stranger to rover designs and is already building the ExoMars rover, which is set to launch to Mars in 2021 and collect data from the planet.

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Sample Fetch Rover will launch in 2026, tasked with transporting the samples loading them into a basketball-sized container inside the ESA's Mars Ascent Vehicle, which will then launch from the Martian surface to loft the samples into orbit.

"Bringing samples back from Mars is essential in more than one way". Firstly to understand why Mars, although it is the planet that is most similar to Earth, took a very different evolutionary path than Earth and secondly to fully comprehend the Martian environment in order to allow humans to one day work and live on the Red Planet.

While ExoMars is created to carry several instruments, the Fetch has only one mission- to find Nasa's 2020 rover, collect samples, and bring it back to Earth, according to release.

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