According to foreign media reports, NASA plans to collect samples from Mars and bring them back to earth, which is well known - because they have said so many times. But how do they dig up soil from the surface of a distant planet and bring it back to earth? The plan sounds a bit like a plot from science fiction.
The project's lead scientist presented the Mars sample retrieval plan proposed by NASA and ESA( ESA) at a virtual conference, possibly the most ambitious interstellar mission ever, according to Nature.
The first part of the plan has been made public: it will be launched through the perseverance Mars probe, which is preparing for launch in July, despite the current pandemic. Perseverance will use a drill and a bulldozer to sample on Mars, and then store 30 small tubes containing Mars samples on the spacecraft.
The next thing is going to be crazy.
It is understood that by 2026, NASA will launch a second spacecraft, which is expected to reach Mars and land near Jezero crater and perseverance in 2028. The spacecraft will deploy a second probe to Mars, which will drive near perseverance, and then start collecting small tubes of samples and putting them in the Mars ascending rocket that comes together. The small rocket will launch itself and send samples into orbit - the first time the spacecraft will take off from the surface of Mars.
At this time, the third spaceship waiting nearby will synchronize with the orbit of the sample recovery spaceship, and then return to earth with it, which is expected to complete the mission in 2031.
"It's not a simple task," Jim watzin, NASA's Mars exploration program director, said at the meeting, "but we try to keep it as simple as possible."
In fact, given the limitations of Mars' travel, it's hard to think of a simpler process. For a variety of reasons, perseverance was unable to send the samples back to the trajectory on its own, which required the assistance of a second spacecraft. But it's impossible to have a spacecraft that can play the roles of outer space vehicle, lander, detector, ascending spacecraft and returning spacecraft at the same time, so a third spacecraft is needed here.
It is worth noting that at present, these are just mission profiles. The actual spacecraft does not exist and is unlikely to be built in the next few years. But in any case, NASA's latest share of this information is still exciting.