Airbus is working on a rover that will collect soil from Mars and bring it back to Earth, according to reports.
Airbus is perhaps known best as a manufacturer of civilian airplanes, though the Netherlands-based company has used its aeronautics know-how to expand into the helicopter market and open a Defence and Space division. The mission is a part of a collaboration between Nasa and ESA that was announced in April this year.
Landing a rover on Mars is a hard task, but it pales in comparison to the incredible challenge of sending material from the planet back to Earth.
It is in fact three separate missions that all depend on one another.
The rover, designed by Airbus, will then head to Mars in 2026 and would have to find the tubes from a distance, autonomously drive to the location, collect them with the help of robotic arms, keep them inside in its storage space.
The third component of the mission is the Earth Return Orbiter, which will capture the sample container, seal it within a biocontainment system, and return the samples to Earth. The deal is worth £3.9 million, which is over $5.1 million United States dollars, and follows on the heels of the Mars 2020 mission which will include another rover built by the same company.
"Bringing samples back from Mars is essential in more than one way".
"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".
The rover may take around 150 days to collect all of the canisters left behind by the Mars 2020 rover after that it will have to locate the rocket that delivered it to Mars. The Mars Ascent Vehicle will then launch from the surface and put the sample container into orbit about Mars.
Below is a 360-degree rendering of the ExoMars rover, which will be searching for life on subterranean Mars while the Fetch Rover is collecting the 2020 samples.
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