• Thu. Jun 30th, 2022

NASA and a partner create a new research group for the Mars sample return program

ByRandall B. Phelps

Jun 14, 2022

NASA and a partner create a new research group for the Mars sample return program

Press release from: Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Posted: Tuesday June 14th 2022

Sixteen scientists from the United States, Europe, Canada and Japan have been chosen to help future samples from the Red Planet reach their full potential.

NASA and ESA (European Space Agency), its partner in the Mars Sample Return Program, have created a new group of researchers to maximize the scientific potential of Mars rock and sediment samples that would be returned to Earth for further analysis. Called the Mars Sample Return Campaign Science Group, the 16 researchers will operate as a science resource for campaign project teams as well as related land-based projects, such as sample retrieval and preservation.

“These 16 people will be the standard bearers for Mars Sample Return science,” said Michael Meyer, senior scientist for the Mars Exploration Program at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “They will build the roadmap by which the science for this landmark enterprise is accomplished – including establishing the sample-related decision-making processes and designing the procedures that will enable the global scientific community to engage with these first samples from another world.”

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

Laura Rodriguez – NASA 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 Organismal and Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University, Boston

Ernst Hauber – Institute for Planetary Research, German Aerospace Center, Germany

Suzanne Schwenzer – School of Earth, Environmental 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 Urgent Response to Biological Threats, Institut Pasteur, France

Michael Veibel – Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Michigan State University

Maria-Paz Zorzano Mier – Astrobiology Center, National Institute of Aerospace Technology, Spain

The first meeting of the scientific group of the Mars sample return campaign is scheduled for June 28 and 29.

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

This strategic partnership between NASA and ESA would be the first sample return mission from another planet and the first launch from the surface of another planet. Samples collected by NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover while exploring an ancient lake bed are believed to present the best opportunity to reveal clues to Mars’ early evolution, including the potential for past life. By better understanding the history of Mars, we will improve our understanding of all the rocky planets in the solar system, including Earth.

Learn more about the Mars Sample Return Program here: https://mars.nasa.gov/msr/

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