Author Topic: NASA/ESA - Mars Sample Return mission  (Read 178776 times)

Online VSECOTSPE

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Re: NASA/ESA - Mars Sample Return mission
« Reply #600 on: 11/23/2023 02:28 am »

Members of Congress seek increase in Mars Sample Return funding

https://spacenews.com/members-of-congress-seek-increase-in-mars-sample-return-funding/

(More like a handful of CA legislators whining and trying to stop NASA from taking responsible action on MSR as forced by the rest of the Senate…)

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Re: NASA/ESA - Mars Sample Return mission
« Reply #601 on: 01/16/2024 01:13 am »
Ignore the headline and read the entire article. There's some good perspective there:

https://www.space.com/nasa-troubled-mars-sample-return-mission-scientists-upset


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Re: NASA/ESA - Mars Sample Return mission
« Reply #602 on: 01/16/2024 03:31 am »
https://www.space.com/nasa-troubled-mars-sample-return-mission-scientists-upset

Bagenal’s perspective struck me:

Quote
Fran Bagenal, a planetary scientist at the University of Colorado Boulder’s (CU Boulder’s) Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics and a veteran of multiple NASA interplanetary missions, is skeptical that MSR’s skyrocketing price tag will prove worthwhile despite its historic astrobiological potential. Most of the material in and around Jezero Crater is more than 3.7 billion years old, she notes—and scientists still vigorously debate any hints of life in rocks of similar vintage right here on our own far-better-studied Earth.

She’s right in that the only evidence we have of life on Earth 3.7 billion years ago are some carbon isotope ratios indicative of biological processing that happen to have been preserved inside some zircon crystals.  Even if confirmed, that does not seem worth the ~$10B price tag.

Offline vjkane

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Re: NASA/ESA - Mars Sample Return mission
« Reply #603 on: 01/16/2024 03:31 pm »
She’s right in that the only evidence we have of life on Earth 3.7 billion years ago are some carbon isotope ratios indicative of biological processing that happen to have been preserved inside some zircon crystals.  Even if confirmed, that does not seem worth the ~$10B price tag.
That's not quite fair. What we have on Earth are *highly* modified remains buried in rock that has been put under pressure, cooked, and minerologically modified. Hard to reconstruct the original and open to multiple interpretations.

What makes Mars interesting is that there are 3.7B year old unmodified mudstones and the like just sitting on the surface. Mars is the only place in the solar system where we can study what the surface of a watery terrestrial planet was like that long ago.

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Re: NASA/ESA - Mars Sample Return mission
« Reply #604 on: 01/16/2024 04:48 pm »
She’s right in that the only evidence we have of life on Earth 3.7 billion years ago are some carbon isotope ratios indicative of biological processing that happen to have been preserved inside some zircon crystals.  Even if confirmed, that does not seem worth the ~$10B price tag.
That's not quite fair. What we have on Earth are *highly* modified remains buried in rock that has been put under pressure, cooked, and minerologically modified. Hard to reconstruct the original and open to multiple interpretations.

What makes Mars interesting is that there are 3.7B year old unmodified mudstones and the like just sitting on the surface. Mars is the only place in the solar system where we can study what the surface of a watery terrestrial planet was like that long ago.


Leonard David's article touches on an issue without explicitly calling it out, but the planetary community, like many communities, is an example of where you sit determines where you stand. Bagenal is a prominent scientist, but she is not an astrobiologist and is not interested in life detection in the solar system. Much of her professional focus has been on magnetospheres and planetary plasmas. So we should at least take that into consideration when she makes an argument about life detection.

I'd also add that MSR is not only about life detection. There are other scientific interests in that mission. I think that Leonard David captured a good swath of those issues, but not all of them.

Online VSECOTSPE

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Re: NASA/ESA - Mars Sample Return mission
« Reply #605 on: 01/16/2024 05:54 pm »
That's not quite fair. What we have on Earth are *highly* modified remains buried in rock that has been put under pressure, cooked, and minerologically modified. Hard to reconstruct the original and open to multiple interpretations.

What makes Mars interesting is that there are 3.7B year old unmodified mudstones and the like just sitting on the surface. Mars is the only place in the solar system where we can study what the surface of a watery terrestrial planet was like that long ago.

The zircons are found in sedimentary formations on Earth, like Jack Hills in Australia, that geologically are about the same age (3.7B vs. 3.6B).  But the only thing of ancient biological interest being found in these sediments is the zircons.  If that’s also roughly the astrobiology result we can expect from the Mars mudstones, then that’s not worth the ~$10B mission price of admission.  The argument about bringing all of Earth’s lab instruments to bear on questions of life in Martian samples doesn’t hold water if all those instruments can’t find much evidence of or answer much about life in similar Earth samples.

Flipping it around, what is the research plan for these Mars samples once they’re back on Earth?  What specific investigations and instruments are we going to bring to bear that have a good shot at definitively determining from sedimentary rocks that have been eroded, irradiated, and oxidated for 3.7B years whether there was microbial life on/in those rocks 3.7B years ago?  Especially when our investigations and instruments can’t definitively determine evidence for life in 3.7B year old Earth sediments?  Maybe a good answer to that question exists in the decadals or some research plans that I’m just ignorant of.  But it if doesn’t exist, then the main research justification for MSR’s pricetag is built on quicksand.

Knee-jerk answers like, well, we won’t know until we get the samples back or until we know what instruments are in labs a decade or two from now don’t cut the mustard.  For a $10B sample return mission, there should be a core research plan with key investigations, labs, instruments, and potential/likely results already laid out.

Leonard David's article touches on an issue without explicitly calling it out, but the planetary community, like many communities, is an example of where you sit determines where you stand. Bagenal is a prominent scientist, but she is not an astrobiologist and is not interested in life detection in the solar system. Much of her professional focus has been on magnetospheres and planetary plasmas. So we should at least take that into consideration when she makes an argument about life detection.

She’s biased but that doesn’t mean that her argument doesn’t hold water.  A JPL janitor could make the same point, and it would be just as valid:  “If all you fancy PhD astrobiologists with all your expensive labs can’t decide whether there was life in dried up mud from some bajillion years ago on this planet, then what makes you think you all can come to a decision based on some dried up mud from some bajillion years ago from the next planet over?  What are you all gonna do different this time?”

Quote
I'd also add that MSR is not only about life detection. There are other scientific interests in that mission. I think that Leonard David captured a good swath of those issues, but not all of them.

Agreed.  MSR and the Mars program isn’t only about early life and life beyond Earth.

But the large budget increase that supported the march of the Mars program towards MSR after ALH84001 and MPL/MCO was justified on grounds of astrobiology.  Above all, it was a “follow the water” strategy to seek evidence of life, a strategy that ended in MSR.  I say that with some authority as the OMB examiner covering Space Science at the time to whom the program was sold.  The Mars program would not have been funded at the levels it was budgeted without the astrobiology justification.  If Mars was just another planetary science target like Mercury or Venus, the funds for it would have been much smaller and maybe even just distributed among Discovery and New Frontiers.

Put another way, a sample return mission to answer questions about early geology or early atmosphere/hydrosphere is worth a ~$1B+ New Frontiers mission.  But a ~$10B+ mission is an exceptional pricetag that requires a special justification.  Astrobiology was supposed to be that justification for MSR and Mars, but now I’m beginning to wonder.

FWIW...

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Re: NASA/ESA - Mars Sample Return mission
« Reply #606 on: 01/16/2024 06:18 pm »
<snip>

<snip>

<snip>

Noting that Mars has undergone much less crustal geologic processing than Earth in the last 3 billion+ years.

(Relatively unaltered) sedimentary samples from the hypothesized time of the origin of life circa 4 Gyrs ago are much more likely to exist in-situ on Mars than on Earth.

Perhaps, no straining at metamorphosed zircon micro-crystals will be required?

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« Last Edit: 01/16/2024 06:22 pm by zubenelgenubi »
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Offline Star One

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NASA/ESA - Mars Sample Return mission
« Reply #607 on: 01/16/2024 06:54 pm »
Reading the article it would seem the most cost effective thing to do would be to leave it to China and hope to get some kind of data sharing agreement in place with them.
« Last Edit: 01/16/2024 06:54 pm by Star One »

Offline whitelancer64

Re: NASA/ESA - Mars Sample Return mission
« Reply #608 on: 01/16/2024 07:42 pm »
The question of life (either past or present) on Mars is huge, but it is not the only reason to get samples. There is so much we can learn about the chemistry and geology and history of Mars by studying samples. Consider that we continue to study the Apollo lunar samples extensively, even though we long ago pretty much determined the Moon was sterile.



The potential science and engineering value of samples delivered to Earth by Mars sample return
International MSR Objectives and Samples Team (iMOST)
D. W. Beaty, M. M. Grady, H. Y. McSween, E. Sefton-Nash, B. L. Carrier, F. Altieri, Y. Amelin, E. Ammannito, M. Anand, L. G. Benning, J. L. Bishop, L. E. Borg, D. Boucher, J. R. Brucato … See all authors
First published: 05 March 2019

Full document: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/maps.13242

Summary of Objectives and Sub-Objectives for MSR Identified by iMOST:

Objective 1 Interpret the primary geologic processes and history that formed the Martian geologic record, with an emphasis on the role of water.
Intent To investigate the geologic environment(s) represented at the Mars 2020 landing site, provide definitive geologic context for collected samples, and detail any characteristics that might relate to past biologic processes

This objective is divided into five sub-objectives that would apply at different landing sites.

1.1 Characterize the essential stratigraphic, sedimentologic, and facies variations of a sequence of Martian sedimentary rocks.
Intent To understand the preserved Martian sedimentary record.
Samples A suite of sedimentary rocks that span the range of variation.
Importance Basic inputs into the history of water, climate change, and the possibility of life

1.2 Understand an ancient Martian hydrothermal system through study of its mineralization products and morphological expression.
Intent To evaluate at least one potentially life-bearing “habitable” environment
Samples A suite of rocks formed and/or altered by hydrothermal fluids.
Importance Identification of a potentially habitable geochemical environment with high preservation potential.

1.3 Understand the rocks and minerals representative of a deep subsurface groundwater environment.
Intent To evaluate definitively the role of water in the subsurface.
Samples Suites of rocks/veins representing water/rock interaction in the subsurface.
Importance May constitute the longest-lived habitable environments and a key to the hydrologic cycle.

1.4 Understand water/rock/atmosphere interactions at the Martian surface and how they have changed with time.
Intent To constrain time-variable factors necessary to preserve records of microbial life.
Samples Regolith, paleosols, and evaporites.
Importance Subaerial near-surface processes could support and preserve microbial life.

1.5 Determine the petrogenesis of Martian igneous rocks in time and space.
Intent To provide definitive characterization of igneous rocks on Mars.
Samples Diverse suites of ancient igneous rocks.
Importance Thermochemical record of the planet and nature of the interior.

Objective 2 Assess and interpret the potential biological history of Mars, including assaying returned samples for the evidence of life.
Intent To investigate the nature and extent of Martian habitability, the conditions and processes that supported or challenged life, how different environments might have influenced the preservation of biosignatures and created nonbiological “mimics,” and to look for biosignatures of past or present life.

This objective has three sub-objectives:

2.1 Assess and characterize carbon, including possible organic and pre-biotic chemistry.
Samples All samples collected as part of Objective 1.
Importance Any biologic molecular scaffolding on Mars would likely be carbon-based.

2.2 Assay for the presence of biosignatures of past life at sites that hosted habitable environments and could have preserved any biosignatures.
Samples All samples collected as part of Objective 1.
Importance Provides the means of discovering ancient life.

2.3 Assess the possibility that any life forms detected are alive, or were recently alive.
Samples All samples collected as part of Objective 1.
Importance Planetary protection, and arguably the most important scientific discovery possible.

Objective 3 Quantitatively determine the evolutionary timeline of Mars.
Intent To provide a radioisotope-based time scale for major events, including magmatic, tectonic, fluvial, and impact events, and the formation of major sedimentary deposits and geomorphological features.
Samples Ancient igneous rocks that bound critical stratigraphic intervals or correlate with crater-dated surfaces.
Importance Quantification of Martian geologic history.

Objective 4 Constrain the inventory of Martian volatiles as a function of geologic time and determine the ways in which these volatiles have interacted with Mars as a geologic system.
Intent To recognize and quantify the major roles that volatiles (in the atmosphere and in the hydrosphere) play in Martian geologic and possibly biologic evolution.
Samples Current atmospheric gas, ancient atmospheric gas trapped in older rocks, and minerals that equilibrated with the ancient atmosphere.
Importance Key to understanding climate and environmental evolution.

Objective 5 Reconstruct the processes that have affected the origin and modification of the interior, including the crust, mantle, core and the evolution of the Martian dynamo.
Intent To quantify processes that have shaped the planet's crust and underlying structure, including planetary differentiation, core segregation and state of the magnetic dynamo, and cratering.
Samples Igneous, potentially magnetized rocks (both igneous and sedimentary) and impact-generated samples.
Importance Elucidate fundamental processes for comparative planetology.

Objective 6 Understand and quantify the potential Martian environmental hazards to future human exploration and the terrestrial biosphere.
Intent To define and mitigate an array of health risks related to the Martian environment associated with the potential future human exploration of Mars.
Samples Fine-grained dust and regolith samples.
Importance Key input to planetary protection planning and astronaut health.

Objective 7 Evaluate the type and distribution of in-situ resources to support potential future Mars exploration.
Intent To quantify the potential for obtaining Martian resources, including use of Martian materials as a source of water for human consumption, fuel production, building fabrication, and agriculture.
Samples Regolith.
Importance Production of simulants that will facilitate long-term human presence on Mars.

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Offline Zed_Noir

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Re: NASA/ESA - Mars Sample Return mission
« Reply #609 on: 01/16/2024 08:00 pm »
Reading the article it would seem the most cost effective thing to do would be to leave it to China and hope to get some kind of data sharing agreement in place with them.

The vitriol reactions with certain anti-Sino Congressional critters to letting NASA play second fiddle to China will be entertaining. You are aware of the Wolf amendment regarding NASA and any other US entities cooperating with China in space matters?

Offline MickQ

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Re: NASA/ESA - Mars Sample Return mission
« Reply #610 on: 01/16/2024 08:39 pm »
Reading the article it would seem the most cost effective thing to do would be to leave it to China and hope to get some kind of data sharing agreement in place with them.

😀😃😄😁😆😅😂🤣.   Good one.

Offline Dalhousie

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Re: NASA/ESA - Mars Sample Return mission
« Reply #611 on: 01/17/2024 03:21 am »
https://www.space.com/nasa-troubled-mars-sample-return-mission-scientists-upset

Bagenal’s perspective struck me:

Quote
Fran Bagenal, a planetary scientist at the University of Colorado Boulder’s (CU Boulder’s) Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics and a veteran of multiple NASA interplanetary missions, is skeptical that MSR’s skyrocketing price tag will prove worthwhile despite its historic astrobiological potential. Most of the material in and around Jezero Crater is more than 3.7 billion years old, she notes—and scientists still vigorously debate any hints of life in rocks of similar vintage right here on our own far-better-studied Earth.

She’s right in that the only evidence we have of life on Earth 3.7 billion years ago are some carbon isotope ratios indicative of biological processing that happen to have been preserved inside some zircon crystals.  Even if confirmed, that does not seem worth the ~$10B price tag.

As others have said, we must keep in mind 3.7 Ga rocks in Jezero have not experienced the upper amphibolite facies (550-650 degrees C, 3-8 kbars pressure (~15-25 km burial)) metamorphism, that the putative signatures in the Nuvvuagittuq belt have.  At most they have probably had only a few 100 m of burial and temperatures of less than 100 degrees.

Plus astrobiology is not the only reason to collect these samples.  W can learn a great deal about early planetary evolution from them, just like we can from the Jack Hills zircons.  Unlike most meteorites, we will know the example context of where the samples came from, which greatly multiplies their value.

I very much doubt an expert on magnetospheres and planetary plasmas has anything meaningful to say about sample return, any more than a mineralogist or organic geochemist has anything useful to say about magnetospheres and plasmas!
« Last Edit: 01/17/2024 03:50 am by Dalhousie »
Apologies in advance for any lack of civility - it's unintended

Offline Don2

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Re: NASA/ESA - Mars Sample Return mission
« Reply #612 on: 01/17/2024 03:26 am »
The articles states that "MSR’s complex architecture is a key driver of such high costs and troubling delays." I think that misses the point. Launching anything off the surface of Mars is extremely expensive and hard to do. A simpler architecture would probably cost more, in the same way that single stage to orbit rockets on Earth are more difficult than using multiple stages. The very tough planetary protection requirements are another big source of cost and complexity.

If NASA goes ahead with MSR on the current schedule then I think the Uranus Orbiter will have to be cancelled. That is a difficult decision because Uranus offers opportunities for a lot of planetary science communities. The magnetosphere is interesting. It offers a new atmosphere to study. The deep interior and bulk composition are an important area of study, and those areas are related to solar system formation. It also has a diverse collection of icy moons, some of which show extensive tectonic activity. Some of the moons may be ocean worlds. Then there are the rings.

A $2.5 billion mission would yield new information on all those topics, and there will be pressure to spend more. Affording that would require delaying MSR yet again. An issue here is that if you want to do MSR in the early 2030s then you will need to redesign the mission to use nuclear power. The current solar powered architecture will not be viable again until the mid-2030s.

MSR addresses a narrower range of interests but the science is potentially more exciting than at Uranus. The delta at Jezero is probably better preserved than any rocks of similar age on Earth. The dryness of Mars and the lack of an oxygen atmosphere is very good for preservation, although the long term radiation exposure is potentially problematic. There is a lot to be learned about the early evolution of Mars, and that has implications for all rocky planets including Earth. There are known to be organics in the rocks there. The origins are not at all clear but they could be biological.There could be clues to the origin of life, which is a major scientific puzzle.

NASA is going to have to decide if Uranus science is important enough to delay MSR for a couple of years. Similar decisions have to be made for Dragonfly and VERITAS.

Offline Star One

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Re: NASA/ESA - Mars Sample Return mission
« Reply #613 on: 01/17/2024 06:12 am »
Reading the article it would seem the most cost effective thing to do would be to leave it to China and hope to get some kind of data sharing agreement in place with them.

The vitriol reactions with certain anti-Sino Congressional critters to letting NASA play second fiddle to China will be entertaining. You are aware of the Wolf amendment regarding NASA and any other US entities cooperating with China in space matters?
Yep. Stick by statement as it’s not much different to what is suggested in the article itself. Anyway I think in the hunt for possible biosigns I think Mars will soon find itself overtaken by events.

Offline woods170

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Re: NASA/ESA - Mars Sample Return mission
« Reply #614 on: 01/17/2024 11:53 am »
Reading the article it would seem the most cost effective thing to do would be to leave it to China and hope to get some kind of data sharing agreement in place with them.

My thoughts exactly. Because IMO it sure as h*ll is not going to cost China the equivalent of $10B to do their own MSR mission. They pulled off their Chang'E-5 lunar sample return mission for less than $1.5B. Sending a similar architecture to Mars is not going to increase the price tag to anywhere even remotely close to $10B.

A lot of risk-reduction has already been done thru the Chang'E-3 to Chang'E-5 missions to the Moon and Tianwen-1 to Mars. China now has the required technology for orbiters, rovers, surface landers, ascenders, robot arms, surface drills, Earth-return vehicles, etc, etc, etc.

China now also has the technology for performing complex journeys through the Solar System. A fine example is the Chang'E-5 orbiter which first entered lunar orbit, then dropped off the lander, received the ascender, left lunar orbit, returned to Earth to drop off the Earth return vehicle and then flew on to the Sun-Earth L1 Lagrange where it entered orbit. Eight months later it broke out of the S-E L1 orbit and flew back to the Moon, where it successfully entered a Distant Retrograde Orbit, where it still is today.

The Tianwen-2 asteroid sample return mission is already profiting from the previous efforts by not only sampling a NEO asteroid and returning the samples back to Earth, but it will also then fly on to a main belt comet and orbit that for 3 years. Tianwen-3 will use the same technology to do a Chinese Mars Sample Return mission.
« Last Edit: 01/17/2024 12:54 pm by woods170 »

Offline woods170

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Re: NASA/ESA - Mars Sample Return mission
« Reply #615 on: 01/17/2024 12:17 pm »
Reading the article it would seem the most cost effective thing to do would be to leave it to China and hope to get some kind of data sharing agreement in place with them.

The vitriol reactions with certain anti-Sino Congressional critters to letting NASA play second fiddle to China will be entertaining. You are aware of the Wolf amendment regarding NASA and any other US entities cooperating with China in space matters?

Not a valid point IMO. Exceptions are very much possible when it concerns purely scientific objectives:
https://spacenews.com/nasa-researchers-get-permission-to-apply-for-chinas-moon-samples/

Quote from: Andrew Jones
NASA-funded researchers have been granted permission to apply for access to China’s Chang’e-5 lunar samples in an exception to a prohibition on bilateral activities.

An internal email sent Nov. 29 (2023) informed NASA researchers that they would be able to apply to the China National Space Administration (CNSA) for access to portions of samples collected by China’s Chang’e-5 mission.

“NASA has certified its intent to Congress to allow NASA-funded researchers to apply to the China National Space Administration for access to lunar samples returned to Earth on the Chang’e-5 mission and made available recently to the international scientific community for research purposes,” the email read.

Same would apply to samples from the Chang'E-6 lunar farside sample return mission and the Tianwen-3 MSR mission, as suggested at the end of the article.
« Last Edit: 01/17/2024 01:00 pm by woods170 »

Online VSECOTSPE

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Re: NASA/ESA - Mars Sample Return mission
« Reply #616 on: 01/17/2024 02:56 pm »
As others have said, we must keep in mind 3.7 Ga rocks in Jezero have not experienced the upper amphibolite facies (550-650 degrees C, 3-8 kbars pressure (~15-25 km burial)) metamorphism, that the putative signatures in the Nuvvuagittuq belt have.  At most they have probably had only a few 100 m of burial and temperatures of less than 100 degrees.

The ~3.7B year old zircons with the funky carbon isotope ratios that I was referring to are found in the Jack Hills formation in Australia, which is a ~3.6B year old eroded sedimentary formation.  If our instruments can’t find evidence of early life in a ~3.6B year old sedimentary formation on Earth aside from  ~3.7B year old zircons with inconclusive isotopes, then what makes us think we’ll be able to find more conclusive evidence of life in 3.7B sedimentary rocks from Mars?

Quote
Plus astrobiology is not the only reason to collect these samples.

It’s not, but it’s the only reason worth spending $10B to retrieve Mars samples now.  Evidence of early life is game changing far beyond the sciences and worth a major injection of taxpayer funding.  Refining models of planetary formation, while still research worthy of government funding, does not warrant a large plus-up.  If we have no real hope of determining whether Mars samples hosted life several billion years ago — or have no substantive, detailed research plan to try to make that determination once the samples are back on Earth — then Mars should just compete with other, non-astrobiology targets like the Moon, Mercury, and Venus (phosphine notwithstanding) for mission funding.

Quote
I very much doubt an expert on magnetospheres and planetary plasmas has anything meaningful to say about sample return,

Appeals to disciplinary authority don’t make a question go away when it’s a valid one.  If astrobiologists can’t determine whether there is definitive evidence of early life in several billion year old sedimentary deposits on Earth, then what makes them think they can determine whether there is definitive evidence of early life in several billion year old sedimentary deposits from Mars?  What are astrobiologists going to do different with these Mars samples that they have not done with roughly equivalent but still indecipherable Earth samples?

There may be an answer to these questions in a research plan that both Bagenal and I are ignorant of.  But if not, the case for the exceptional funding for MSR and the Mars Program generally is built on quicksand.  (And to be clear, my bias is towards more investment in astrobiology missions.)

My 2 cents... YMMV... FWIW.

Offline Star One

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Re: NASA/ESA - Mars Sample Return mission
« Reply #617 on: 01/17/2024 04:32 pm »
Reading the article it would seem the most cost effective thing to do would be to leave it to China and hope to get some kind of data sharing agreement in place with them.

My thoughts exactly. Because IMO it sure as h*ll is not going to cost China the equivalent of $10B to do their own MSR mission. They pulled off their Chang'E-5 lunar sample return mission for less than $1.5B. Sending a similar architecture to Mars is not going to increase the price tag to anywhere even remotely close to $10B.

A lot of risk-reduction has already been done thru the Chang'E-3 to Chang'E-5 missions to the Moon and Tianwen-1 to Mars. China now has the required technology for orbiters, rovers, surface landers, ascenders, robot arms, surface drills, Earth-return vehicles, etc, etc, etc.

China now also has the technology for performing complex journeys through the Solar System. A fine example is the Chang'E-5 orbiter which first entered lunar orbit, then dropped off the lander, received the ascender, left lunar orbit, returned to Earth to drop off the Earth return vehicle and then flew on to the Sun-Earth L1 Lagrange where it entered orbit. Eight months later it broke out of the S-E L1 orbit and flew back to the Moon, where it successfully entered a Distant Retrograde Orbit, where it still is today.

The Tianwen-2 asteroid sample return mission is already profiting from the previous efforts by not only sampling a NEO asteroid and returning the samples back to Earth, but it will also then fly on to a main belt comet and orbit that for 3 years. Tianwen-3 will use the same technology to do a Chinese Mars Sample Return mission.
As far as the NASA MSR mission is concerned I think the old adage applies that if you’re in a hole you have to know when to stop digging.

Offline Zed_Noir

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Re: NASA/ESA - Mars Sample Return mission
« Reply #618 on: 01/17/2024 07:17 pm »
Reading the article it would seem the most cost effective thing to do would be to leave it to China and hope to get some kind of data sharing agreement in place with them.

The vitriol reactions with certain anti-Sino Congressional critters to letting NASA play second fiddle to China will be entertaining. You are aware of the Wolf amendment regarding NASA and any other US entities cooperating with China in space matters?

Not a valid point IMO. Exceptions are very much possible when it concerns purely scientific objectives:
https://spacenews.com/nasa-researchers-get-permission-to-apply-for-chinas-moon-samples/

Quote from: Andrew Jones
NASA-funded researchers have been granted permission to apply for access to China’s Chang’e-5 lunar samples in an exception to a prohibition on bilateral activities.

An internal email sent Nov. 29 (2023) informed NASA researchers that they would be able to apply to the China National Space Administration (CNSA) for access to portions of samples collected by China’s Chang’e-5 mission.

“NASA has certified its intent to Congress to allow NASA-funded researchers to apply to the China National Space Administration for access to lunar samples returned to Earth on the Chang’e-5 mission and made available recently to the international scientific community for research purposes,” the email read.

Same would apply to samples from the Chang'E-6 lunar farside sample return mission and the Tianwen-3 MSR mission, as suggested at the end of the article.
Will just add that any exception to the Wolf amendment depends on the whims of the Congressional critters when the application for exception is presented.

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Re: NASA/ESA - Mars Sample Return mission
« Reply #619 on: 01/17/2024 09:09 pm »
Reading the article it would seem the most cost effective thing to do would be to leave it to China and hope to get some kind of data sharing agreement in place with them.

The vitriol reactions with certain anti-Sino Congressional critters to letting NASA play second fiddle to China will be entertaining. You are aware of the Wolf amendment regarding NASA and any other US entities cooperating with China in space matters?

Not a valid point IMO. Exceptions are very much possible when it concerns purely scientific objectives:
https://spacenews.com/nasa-researchers-get-permission-to-apply-for-chinas-moon-samples/

Quote from: Andrew Jones
NASA-funded researchers have been granted permission to apply for access to China’s Chang’e-5 lunar samples in an exception to a prohibition on bilateral activities.

An internal email sent Nov. 29 (2023) informed NASA researchers that they would be able to apply to the China National Space Administration (CNSA) for access to portions of samples collected by China’s Chang’e-5 mission.

“NASA has certified its intent to Congress to allow NASA-funded researchers to apply to the China National Space Administration for access to lunar samples returned to Earth on the Chang’e-5 mission and made available recently to the international scientific community for research purposes,” the email read.

Same would apply to samples from the Chang'E-6 lunar farside sample return mission and the Tianwen-3 MSR mission, as suggested at the end of the article.
Will just add that any exception to the Wolf amendment depends on the whims of the Congressional critters when the application for exception is presented.



I'll just add that the whole line of discussion is irrelevant: the American science community establishes its own priorities and then decides upon the best approach to meeting them. It does not outsource those priorities to other countries, especially adversarial countries. Otherwise, why have a space program at all?


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