Airbus tapped to design Fetch Mars rover

GettyImages-919944930

GettyImages-919944930

Aerospace company Airbus has been awarded a £3.9 million (about $5.2 million, AU$7 million) contract to design a new Mars rover. Unlike the two rovers NASA now has operating on Mars, Airbus' rover will be able to ship samples back to Earth, giving scientists physical access to soil and rock dust from the Red Planet. It will be used to deploy a so-called Sample Fetch Rover, a machine Airbus is now working on. That is, however, only half the job, because those samples will have to be brought back to Earth for study.

ESA's ExoMars orbiter, which will act as a relay satellite for the Sample Return mission.

It is in fact three separate missions that all depend on one another.

The 2020 Rover will move around Mars, drilling holes in various parts of the planet, putting the samples in small tubes and drop them off at set sites. The Mars 2020 rover will reach the Red Planet in 2020.


"Accomplishments in robotic exploration in recent years have increased confidence in success - multiple launches will be necessary to deliver samples from Mars".

Simultaneously, ESA's ExoMars rover will be drilling below the Martian surface to search for evidence of life, and the ExoMars orbiter now sampling Mars' atmosphere will form a crucial part of the communications infrastructure for the Sample Return mission, for which it will act as a relay satellite. The Airbus team based in Stevenage, England was selected because it's already building the ExoMars rover which is due to head to Mars in 2021.

"I am very pleased that with these two studies now being commissioned and in combination with other studies conducted elsewhere in Europe we make another important step to explore Mars". It will have to collect every canister that 2020 Rover leaves behind and then get back to the rocket it landed on Mars with, then take off and come to Earth. The Mars Ascent Vehicle will then launch from the surface and put the sample container into orbit about Mars.

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