• Fri. Aug 12th, 2022

NASA invites comments on initial plans for Mars sample return program

ByRandall B. Phelps

Apr 29, 2022

NASA invites comments on initial plans for Mars sample return program

Press release from: NASA HQ
Posted: Friday April 29th 2022

NASA is seeking 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 by mail and online until Monday, May 16, 2022.

The agency is also hosting two virtual town hall meetings on the proposed program at 3:00 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, May 4, 2022 and at 8:00 p.m. on Thursday, May 5, 2022, at:


An audio-only stream of the public meetings will be available at 510-210-8882, meeting number 901-525-785. The Webex online stream of meetings will include real-time automated captioning. It is not necessary to register in advance for the meetings. The meeting website will be available to participants approximately 15 minutes before the start of the event.

NASA and the European Space Agency plan to use robotic orbiter and lander missions to Mars launched in 2027 and 2028 to collect samples collected by NASA’s Perseverance rover. The samples, safely isolated inside a robust Earth Entry System using a layered “container-in-a-container” approach, could be brought to Earth in the early 2030s. would then be transported to a dedicated MSR sample receiving facility.

Public meetings will include briefings on the status of the National Environmental Policy Act process for the proposed program, as well as its purpose and scientific objectives. The meetings will also cover why the US Air Force-operated Utah Test and Training Range is the proposed landing site for the samples, and what planners are doing to ensure the safe and secure return of the samples – a subject known as planetary backward protection.

NASA will consider all comments received during the scoping process in the further development of the draft MSR Environmental Impact Statement, which is currently expected to be released for public comment later this year.

Additional information about the agency National Environmental Policy Law Process and the proposal NASA-ESA MSR program is available online.

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