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Robotic Spacecraft (Astronomy, Planetary, Earth, Solar/Heliophysics) => Space Science Coverage => Topic started by: vjkane on 12/31/2017 03:36 PM

Title: Mars sample return
Post by: vjkane on 12/31/2017 03:36 PM
With both NASA and China actively preparing the technology for a Mars sample return as early as the 2020s, this seems like a good new topic.

Popular Mechanics just published a nice, but non-technical, overview of both agencies plans and probable approaches.

http://www.popularmechanics.com/space/moon-mars/a14506608/united-states-china-racing-first-sample-from-mars/ (http://www.popularmechanics.com/space/moon-mars/a14506608/united-states-china-racing-first-sample-from-mars/)
Title: Re: Mars sample return
Post by: speedevil on 12/31/2017 03:50 PM
With both NASA and China actively preparing the technology for a Mars sample return as early as the 2020s, this seems like a good new topic.

Popular Mechanics just published a nice, but non-technical, overview of both agencies plans and probable approaches.

http://www.popularmechanics.com/space/moon-mars/a14506608/united-states-china-racing-first-sample-from-mars/ (http://www.popularmechanics.com/space/moon-mars/a14506608/united-states-china-racing-first-sample-from-mars/)

Somewhat amusing that commercial might get there first, and is unmentioned.
Do I think SpaceX is likely to get samples to earth in 2025 - well no.
Do I think NASA is - hell no.

And the Chinese program is predicated around a rocket not even slated for launch till 2025.
Title: Re: Mars sample return
Post by: Coastal Ron on 12/31/2017 03:51 PM
It is an interesting time in the space transportation field, with state controlled agencies using incremental systems to try and do extremely difficult planetary exploration, and the private sector (i.e. SpaceX for now) working on a revolutionary system to try and do extremely difficult planetary exploration.

You hope for everyone to succeed, but if SpaceX succeeds then everyone else will look really out of date.
Title: Re: Mars sample return
Post by: SoTOP on 12/31/2017 10:05 PM
You know something? There is a dedicated NASA effort to return samples from Mars. There are presentations and plans and all that. People doing real technology development. Hardware being tested.

But then I come to NSF and I see that you guys turn every discussion into SpaceX, and you know what? It shows how incredibly clueless you are about what is actually going on. And you don't even realize it. There's really no point in discussing it here, because you're all living in your little fantasy worlds.
So the difference between you and Spacex fanboys is that you live in NASA fantasy world? Because if we would be silly and take NASA Mars plans by heart, by the time NASA realistically would be ready to do sample return they should be landing people on Mars.
Title: Re: Mars sample return
Post by: UltraViolet9 on 12/31/2017 10:18 PM
There is a dedicated NASA effort to return samples from Mars. There are presentations and plans and all that. People doing real technology development. Hardware being tested.

NASA has worked Mars sample return presentations, plans, and technology development since the 1970s.  We should be realistic about NASA Mars sample return now.

There is currently no funded sample return mission at NASA.  OMB has opposed it so far.  Unlike Europa, there is no congressional champion.  Mars 2020 may do some caching.  But that is no guarantee that those caches will be deemed scientifically worthwhile to return to Earth.  Or, if the samples are deemed worthy, that the federal government will spend the billions of dollars necessary to bring them back.

In fact, NASA's Mars mission plans after 2020 are up in the air.  Jim Green himself has stated publicly that the previously planned 2022 orbiter is probably off the table.  Mission sequences after that are notional, undecided, and unfunded.  The FY17 budget request for the Mars program declines from almost $600 million to less than $300 million by FY21.  If that projection becomes reality, then there is no budget on the horizon for sample return.

I helped get the MERS mission, Mars Scouts, and subsequent program funded after the 98 mission failures.  I'm all for a good MSR mission after the past decade-plus of progress.  It is time.  But it's not clear that NASA has its act together on Mars like it did a decade or so ago.  And if it did, it's not clear that the agency's stakeholders are going to step up.

None of the above means that SpaceX is going to bring back a 3.5-billion year old, half-ton Mars boulder on a Red Dragon capsule.  (Of course not.)  But NASA needs a lot more than presentations, plans, and technology development if it's going to ever bring samples back from Mars.

Title: Re: Mars sample return
Post by: Coastal Ron on 12/31/2017 10:49 PM
You know something? There is a dedicated NASA effort to return samples from Mars. There are presentations and plans and all that. People doing real technology development. Hardware being tested.

No doubt, but their plans still have a lot of TBD in them. Which is nothing unusual when an activity is not a major political priority, and there should be no doubt that given enough time and money that NASA can get samples back from Mars.

Quote
But then I come to NSF and I see that you guys turn every discussion into SpaceX, and you know what? It shows how incredibly clueless you are about what is actually going on. And you don't even realize it. There's really no point in discussing it here, because you're all living in your little fantasy worlds.

These are interesting times.

Ten years ago if anyone had thought that Elon Musk would be proposing a massive rocket and spaceship to move 100 humans to Mars on each trip, that would have seemed to border on fantasy. But over the past ten years a lot has happened in the private aerospace field, and it's impossible to ignore that.

It now looks possible that SpaceX could get to Mars.

That's nothing against NASA, especially since NASA doesn't control it's own destiny.

But I think a lot of people would agree that we are no longer in the realm of fantasy when talking about SpaceX and Mars.
Title: Re: Mars sample return
Post by: vjkane on 01/01/2018 12:47 AM
Ten years ago if anyone had thought that Elon Musk would be proposing a massive rocket and spaceship to move 100 humans to Mars on each trip, that would have seemed to border on fantasy. But over the past ten years a lot has happened in the private aerospace field, and it's impossible to ignore that.

It now looks possible that SpaceX could get to Mars.
Right now those plans exist on PowerPoint slides.  When they start cutting metal, running tests, learning from failures on their prototypes, I'll start to believe -- and add a decade.  Look at how much the Falcon Heavy has slipped because -- as Musk said -- it was harder than they had thought.  But they have hardware and so I believe they will bring it to flight.  We will see when their next plans reach this stage.

BTW, NASA has cut metal, run tests, and is learning on prototypes for the crucial components of its sample return. 
Title: Re: Mars sample return
Post by: redliox on 01/01/2018 03:26 AM
BTW, NASA has cut metal, run tests, and is learning on prototypes for the crucial components of its sample return.

Given the thread's title, may we get links to papers talking about these prototypes and their progress?  :)

China is obviously trying to become a rising star, and its Lunar program shows that.  Assuming China is dead serious (although I suspect they're going to be delayed), I think NASA needs to condense and accelerate its MSR program.
 The 2020 Mars Rover via NASA obviously is already underway, so some solid work on the return needs to be presented.  I'm not a fan of the orbital rendezvous method, but I know what I have seen of MSR stuff implies the MAV could be achievable with funds, although I hate to settle for low Mars orbit.  I'd rather see a direct return and bypass worrying about an orbiter screwing up on the pickup.

All the same, who can post stuff about what's known on Mars Ascent?  It's better to debate with something to go off.
Title: Re: Mars sample return
Post by: su27k on 01/01/2018 04:23 AM
Right now those plans exist on PowerPoint slides.  When they start cutting metal, running tests, learning from failures on their prototypes, I'll start to believe -- and add a decade.  Look at how much the Falcon Heavy has slipped because -- as Musk said -- it was harder than they had thought.  But they have hardware and so I believe they will bring it to flight.  We will see when their next plans reach this stage.

BTW, NASA has cut metal, run tests, and is learning on prototypes for the crucial components of its sample return.

Right now everybody's MSR plans are PowerPoint slides, some are also depending on PowerPoint rockets, so what's your point? BTW, SpaceX's PowerPoint to reality speed is faster than a decade, for Falcon 9 it's 5 years, for FH it's 7 years, and they have been cutting metal (and carbon fiber) and doing tests for crucial components of BFR for years.

But this whole SpaceX vs NASA regarding MSR is misleading, since SpaceX has no interest in MSR, nor do they want to compete with NASA on MSR. What SpaceX may provide is cheap transport of significant mass to Mars, either to TMI via FH or to surface via BFR, depending on how much risk you're willing to take. Would this affect MSR plans? I don't know, but it seems to me this is worth discussing instead of just dismissing as fantasy land.
Title: Re: Mars sample return
Post by: speedevil on 01/01/2018 02:43 PM
But this whole SpaceX vs NASA regarding MSR is misleading, since SpaceX has no interest in MSR, nor do they want to compete with NASA on MSR. What SpaceX may provide is cheap transport of significant mass to Mars, either to TMI via FH or to surface via BFR, depending on how much risk you're willing to take. Would this affect MSR plans? I don't know, but it seems to me this is worth discussing instead of just dismissing as fantasy land.

I should have expanded my post to what I thought it implied but maybe diddn't.

Even if a Mars sample return was funded in the next year after a successful sample-stow mission of Mars 2020 (around Nov 2020 at Mars), in 2021, it's hard seeing it likely to be launched in 5 years from then, or 2026.

It is at least plausible that before 2021, BFR/BFS will have demonstrated significant enough capability that it makes plans for returning five kilos (or whatever) to earth look utterly comical.

(If funded in 2021, and launched around 2026, earth return for a sample mission would be in 2028).

At the very least, barring total failure of BFR (say several pad and orbital reentry losses) at that time - 2021 - anyone funding such a mission would need to take a very careful look at risks and potential rewards of doing a one-off probe, or getting some tons of material back on a returning BFS.

In the context of mission costs like Mars 2020, ($2B) BFR can deliver payloads that are utterly game-changing, yet almost off the shelf in comparison to what's gone before.

Four pegasus rockets for earth return, rovers that are literally carefully chosen construction equipment with replaced wheels, with a dozen of them not one, ...

If you believe in ISRU, earth return gets rather better of course.

Title: Re: Mars sample return
Post by: vjkane on 01/01/2018 03:49 PM
Even if a Mars sample return was funded in the next year after a successful sample-stow mission of Mars 2020 (around Nov 2020 at Mars), in 2021, it's hard seeing it likely to be launched in 5 years from then, or 2026.

It is at least plausible that before 2021, BFR/BFS will have demonstrated significant enough capability that it makes plans for returning five kilos (or whatever) to earth look utterly comical.

(If funded in 2021, and launched around 2026, earth return for a sample mission would be in 2028).

At the very least, barring total failure of BFR (say several pad and orbital reentry losses) at that time - 2021 - anyone funding such a mission would need to take a very careful look at risks and potential rewards of doing a one-off probe, or getting some tons of material back on a returning BFS.
NASA is thinking of flying in the mid-2020s, and so must commit to a launch vehicle early in that decades.

Mars scientists aren't looking to return tons of material.  They are looking to return carefully selected samples.  The 2020 rover will spend a couple of years or more going to explore locations to find and cache those samples.  Total returned mass is something like 30 sample cores with a total mass of <5 kg.  The goal is to sample specific types of geology that are expected to be rare, not mine a ton of soil and rocks from one place.  Think about how carefully terrestrial geologists hunt for the small locations on Earth that have rocks old enough to show conditions on Earth when life might have formed.  Rocks and soils that old on Mars are easy to find, but finding those the preserve specific conditions (such as signs of life or pre-biotic conditions) is tricky.  The 2020 instrument suite is tuned to analyzing potential samples locations at the scale of individual grains of soil and rock.

While the BFR might, without any delays due to design, testing, or flight, meet your schedule to become a qualified launch vehicle, there's also the matter of safe landing on Mars, ascent, and re-entry at Earth.  All are major challenges and all will require time.
Title: Re: Mars sample return
Post by: speedevil on 01/01/2018 04:07 PM
NASA is thinking of flying in the mid-2020s, and so must commit to a launch vehicle early in that decades.

NASA is also thinking of manned moon and mars missions, growing food in space, supersonic airliners, ...

Sometimes external events mean that these mostly unfunded proposals never proceed to actual funding in anything like their expected form from five years before.
See for example WFIRST after the unexpected mirror gift.
Title: Re: Mars sample return
Post by: ccdengr on 01/01/2018 05:08 PM
But then I come to NSF and I see that you guys turn every discussion into SpaceX...
I'd like to see the mods rigorously enforce a no-SpaceX policy on threads that clearly have nothing to do with SpaceX.  Although maybe it's just too late for that, and this site should quit pretending that it can serve as a forum for anything except SpaceX.
Title: Re: Mars sample return
Post by: raketa on 01/01/2018 06:02 PM
But then I come to NSF and I see that you guys turn every discussion into SpaceX...
I'd like to see the mods rigorously enforce a no-SpaceX policy on threads that clearly have nothing to do with SpaceX.  Although maybe it's just too late for that, and this site should quit pretending that it can serve as a forum for anything except SpaceX.
This is the situation, SpaceX has and is building capabilities nobody is matching. Vulcan,NGL are still paper rockets.Even these paper rockets have less capability than Falcon 9H that will probably fly this month. Falcon 9H is an only rocket in next 5-10 years that will make possible to do Mars return sample.
Title: Re: Mars sample return
Post by: Negan on 01/01/2018 06:06 PM
So what's NASA's current plan to get the samples back?
Title: Re: Mars sample return
Post by: Bynaus on 01/01/2018 06:41 PM
NASA's plan is essentially:

1) Cache samples with the next big rover
2) Send a surface mission to fetch those samples and bring them back to Mars orbit
3) Send an orbital mission to fetch the samples in Mars orbit, and return them to Earth
(potentially: 4) return the samples to a lunar orbit and fetch them with an Orion crew)

While I agree with "not everything is SpaceX", I also think that given their track record, the SpaceX plans should matter too because if they do succeed, the "canonical plan" (outlined above) might be quickly outdated and discarded. But the argument to keep a NASA-plan is similar to the SLS/BFR-case: as long as it isn't clear that SpaceX will succeed with their plans, its better to have a running NASA alternative.

The question then is whether this thread should be focussed on the running alternative (in which case a "no-SpaceX-policy" makes sense, except when it comes to launch vehicles) or whether all possible variants of MSR (including the one becoming possible once BFR flies) should be discussed. I'd advocate the former as it is just obvious that if SpaceX succeeds with a Mars-return-flight before NASA completes MSR, the discussion will be another one.
Title: Re: Mars sample return
Post by: redliox on 01/01/2018 07:09 PM
If you believe in ISRU, earth return gets rather better of course.

Personally I believe it should be attempted, as it would allow direct returns that the asteroid and comet missions have already done.  However in fairness, I would like to see a comparison against what's been developed and conceived thus far with the default rendezvous conception; previously people like Vankane and Blackstar have implied there's solid rocket or hypergolic methods sufficiently advanced enough to put samples into low Mars orbit.  Basically if it already exists, don't discredit it and see what it can do.

A compromise could be to develop a simpler ISRU setup that manufactures oxygen.  The 2020 rover is already flying a small fuel cell meant to demonstrate this.  It would be logical to fly the same technology, scaled up of course, once the rover shows its possible.  The only other question would be what hypergolics or hybrid setups can burn with actual oxygen for oxidizer as opposed to other propellants.
Title: Re: Mars sample return
Post by: Lar on 01/01/2018 07:12 PM
(Mod)

NASA bashing is not welcome in this thread. NASA plans are what they are. Work is under way to realise them, but they are at the mercy of Congress to fund them all the way. Talk about the plans, the challenges, the chances for success, how they compare and contrast to the plans of others, but save the bashing.  Share links to what IS known instead.

SpaceX bashing is not welcome in this thread. SpaceX plans are what they are. Work is under way to realise them, (Metal is being bent, engines are under development)  but they are at the mercy of Murphy, and of their ability to fund them internally or find external sources.  Talk about the plans, the challenges, the chances for success, how they compare and contrast to the plans of others, but save the bashing. There are lots of threads here where interested readers can learn what is known and what is planned.

China bashing is not welcome in this thread. Chinese plans are what they are. We don't really know exactly what work is underway but learning more is interesting.  Talk about the plans, the challenges, the chances for success, how they compare and contrast to the plans of others, but save the bashing. Share links to what IS known instead.

(fan) For any organization to operate under the assumption that there is nothing happening elsewhere is foolish. For any organization to pin its chances for success on others without making provisions assuming no progress by anyone else is also foolish. We live in interesting time.  But squabbling is uninteresting.
Title: Re: Mars sample return
Post by: redliox on 01/01/2018 07:18 PM
Thanks Lar  :)  We need this thread to focus on MSR.  A rocket is a rocket in the end.

Edit/Lar: singular.
Title: Re: Mars sample return
Post by: Space Ghost 1962 on 01/01/2018 07:38 PM
On the positive (but unexplored) side, here's a thought on how to deal with the generic case of sample return (not just Mars).

Structure a CRS-like program which bids out "return from on orbit somewhere", where each mission needs to start, be on station for a duration, and return in certain conditions. Offer a number of overlapping "slots" for N providers to bid on, and two to fly.

So there's always a return capacity present, and the providers are simply paid for the service, nothing else.

Obviously many vehicles already have the capabilities to do this in LEO already, and can be coaxed to cislunar, so why not take this to higher C3 and longer duration as well?

Then with that part spoken for and in place, 1/3 of the sample return capability is in place. And it would be lasting 2-4+ planetary oppositions, so if there was a failure to launch/hand-off it would be ready for the next try.

What screws up sample return is too many dependent parts provided by the same mission vendor. (Politics plays here too.)

Since there are soon to be many Mars capable LV platforms, extending the CRS concept to a BLEO logistics makes sense.
Title: Re: Mars sample return
Post by: vjkane on 01/01/2018 08:47 PM
On the positive (but unexplored) side, here's a thought on how to deal with the generic case of sample return (not just Mars).

Structure a CRS-like program which bids out "return from on orbit somewhere", where each mission needs to start, be on station for a duration, and return in certain conditions. Offer a number of overlapping "slots" for N providers to bid on, and two to fly.
There are proposals for doing a number of lunar sample returns, and I could see this model working well there (nearby, multiple flights, etc.), especially if the samples are bulk samples gathered directly by an arm on the lander.  At least one credible design for a lunar bulk sampler would cost less than $850 M without the launch (the New Frontiers proposed lander).  With a bulk purchase, this would likely go down on a per flight basis.

With Mars, I'd believe this would be harder.  First, there's a need for a highly capable rover with very sensitive instruments to go find the right samples scattered across a fairly large landscape.  The scientific community rejected the concept of simply collecting bulk samples from the immediate landing site they are looking for very specific and usually rare geologic setting.  Hence the need for a highly capable rover.  The sampling mechanism and caching system are proving to be challenging to design.  Also, intelligently selecting those samples makes this a science mission, and I'm not aware of private companies with the proven expertise to run complex science operations of this nature.  In addition, Mars presents some problems in terms of storing fuels on the surface because of the cold.  One of the key breakthroughs that NASA believes would enable a Mars sample return next decade is a fuel type that can withstand that cold.

As I said, I think the technical capabilities of private companies to mount their own missions outside of NASA's R&D structures, have matured to the point where lunar missions are credible.  Mars appears to be too far away and too technically challenging at this point for it not be an R&D exercise and not to require extensive interaction with a science team.  The same could probably be said of comets at this point.

Probably the biggest challenge to this idea is that so far no government has been willing to fund a series of missions that could be built on an assembly line where the strengths of the private sector shine best.  With one-off missions, they are R&D efforts and NASA wants to work intensely with the industrial or agency labs doing the design and testing.  If you are committed to doing ten flights, one or two failures are acceptable.  If you are doing this once and Congress is watching, you want that one time to succeed.

Another challenge is that planetary missions including sample return missions are science driven and exploratory.  For Bennu, as an example, there will be over a year of studying the asteroid before taking a sample.  Would a CRS-like approach where the capabilities, design, and operation involve working with large and complex science teams?

All that said, I'd like to see the CRS approach tried, and I hope it is with the moon.
Title: Re: Mars sample return
Post by: Space Ghost 1962 on 01/01/2018 10:50 PM
On the positive (but unexplored) side, here's a thought on how to deal with the generic case of sample return (not just Mars).

Structure a CRS-like program which bids out "return from on orbit somewhere", where each mission needs to start, be on station for a duration, and return in certain conditions. Offer a number of overlapping "slots" for N providers to bid on, and two to fly.
There are proposals for doing a number of lunar sample returns, and I could see this model working well there (nearby, multiple flights, etc.), especially if the samples are bulk samples gathered directly by an arm on the lander.  At least one credible design for a lunar bulk sampler would cost less than $850 M without the launch (the New Frontiers proposed lander).  With a bulk purchase, this would likely go down on a per flight basis.
Agree that's the easiest to demonstrate functional autonomous capability.

And the benefits are easy to see and explain to governments, in the same way that CRS benefits as well - it takes logistics out of the equation of sample conveyance. Also, since mission scope is narrowed to conveying the samples to orbit, then the whole footprint to develop is shorter/quicker/more feasible.

And the growth for exploration craft is in "feeding" the logistics chain with more and varied means/places/bodies to sample.

Even companies that wish to "piggy back" the logistics chain might be able to scope missions to leverage the capability for return.

Quote
With Mars, I'd believe this would be harder.  First, there's a need for a highly capable rover with very sensitive instruments to go find the right samples scattered across a fairly large landscape.  The scientific community rejected the concept of simply collecting bulk samples from the immediate landing site they are looking for very specific and usually rare geologic setting.  Hence the need for a highly capable rover.  The sampling mechanism and caching system are proving to be challenging to design.  Also, intelligently selecting those samples makes this a science mission, and I'm not aware of private companies with the proven expertise to run complex science operations of this nature.
There's a conflict between logistics and exploration SC.

Doesn't need to be, as those who build those exploration SC already have (as you point out) a hard enough task to get there, find/extract/assemble the samples.

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In addition, Mars presents some problems in terms of storing fuels on the surface because of the cold.  One of the key breakthroughs that NASA believes would enable a Mars sample return next decade is a fuel type that can withstand that cold.
Also having a capable, scale-able propulsion bus on orbit allows for lower propellant sizes/margin on sample launch and recovery.

Quote
As I said, I think the technical capabilities of private companies to mount their own missions outside of NASA's R&D structures, have matured to the point where lunar missions are credible.  Mars appears to be too far away and too technically challenging at this point for it not be an R&D exercise and not to require extensive interaction with a science team.  The same could probably be said of comets at this point.
My point is about staging logistics through an evolvable common platform, likely with multiple mission capability, that for asteroids and lunar samples can be leveraged with commercial efforts.

All that would change as the logistics platform would extend to other solar system targets would be the propulsion, communications, power and duration of the vehicle.

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Probably the biggest challenge to this idea is that so far no government has been willing to fund a series of missions that could be built on an assembly line where the strengths of the private sector shine best.  With one-off missions, they are R&D efforts and NASA wants to work intensely with the industrial or agency labs doing the design and testing.  If you are committed to doing ten flights, one or two failures are acceptable.  If you are doing this once and Congress is watching, you want that one time to succeed.
But what if the CRS model bought a batch of  "regular flights" to Mars?

So lets say its a bus that delivers smallsats/cubesats/commsats/navsats every opposition to a planet, then maneuvers to multiple sample return intercepts over the course of years, and eventually returns with samples.

Your science product would be of broad number of on orbit experiments, likely pioneering surface/atmospheric/radiation capabilities/sensing, as well as refreshing communications assets that support larger missions flown directly to destinations on other LV concurrently.

If, like with Insight/Curiosity launch delays, these bulk launches would always fly and at least keep a stream of assets/payloads flowing as an insurance policy for the flagship missions to employ when they eventually made it to Mars.

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Another challenge is that planetary missions including sample return missions are science driven and exploratory.  For Bennu, as an example, there will be over a year of studying the asteroid before taking a sample.  Would a CRS-like approach where the capabilities, design, and operation involve working with large and complex science teams?
Perhaps an evolution of the concept would work as a prepackaged return vehicle, proven in LEO/cislunar/planetary uses, that either is separately launched or piggybacked on the launch as a non-integral part of the SC?

The key benefit that makes this work as a CRS-like approach is to employ the sample return as a service that is wholly detached from the science, except for the hand-off of the sample. The CRS-like SC for return has absolutely nothing to do other than logistics on demand for science, and all they focus on is refining the bus to handle the unique additional requirements (duration, props, distance from sun, radiation exposure, mission profile) to accomplish "there and back again".

For the science team it's a form of "divide and conquer" - they don't have to add all that's needed to do the logistics (and mission overhead/management) as it's someone else's expertise than keeps evolving. And since those logistics would be based on a routinely flown bus, always the best means being used/improved for the best economics/performance. Which means more focus on science and a better, increasing capacity return.

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All that said, I'd like to see the CRS approach tried, and I hope it is with the moon.
Me too.

add:
Forgot to add that there's a tendency with MSR to squeeze development just a little bit more to accomplish it, and then fall short of anything achievable. If you will the "JWST disease".

What exploration SC have achieved phenomenally in the past two decades, and should continue to develop and achieve even more in successive decades, is at odds with something like logistical support in the "return" aspect IMHO.

Also too much rides on too few elements of resilient design. Since launch, rendezvous, and recovery are all high risk, plan that you'll need many shots to begin with. Also, since there's a successive dependency, you'll want more/multiple samples launched from the surface (highest risk), with a reused (possibly multi-caching)  on-orbit SC with excessive props to chase down / compensate for launch shortfall (with on-orbit backup to compensate for on orbit mortality losses).

Then there's the economic scaleability of employing/enhancing/refining the logistics SC on successively larger scoped missions - sample return is likely to be a key part of hundreds of future missions - why not develop that as a separate mission phase component.
Title: Re: Mars sample return
Post by: redliox on 01/01/2018 10:57 PM
Reading into one study regarding hybrid rocket propulsion for MSR here:
http://web.stanford.edu/~cantwell/Recent_publications/Boiron_AIAA_2013-3899.pdf (http://web.stanford.edu/~cantwell/Recent_publications/Boiron_AIAA_2013-3899.pdf)

A hybrid mentioned is paraffin wax and liquid oxygen.  Apparently at the right ratios it can get slightly higher than 360 seconds for specific impulse, nearly on par with methalox (not exceeding, but able to match its middle range).  It might even have a temperature tolerance able to handle at least the low if not middle latitudes of Mars.
Title: Re: Mars sample return
Post by: speedevil on 01/02/2018 01:39 AM
There is also other interesting work being done - http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=36629.msg1662576#msg1662576 - A 1kg Mars helicopter that could help lots with autonomous routing.

Greatly reduced landing costs from any vendor would utterly change designs, but may be some way out even for a 2026 launched sample return.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w3y7iJEe7uM

~1kg, ~220W, ~60cm coaxial rotor, ~3 minutes a day flight to ~100m altitude and several hundred meters traverse on integral solar.

It is unclear if this will fly on the Mars 2020 rover.
There are no further public releases after the video that I have found unfortunately. I contemplated mailing the PI, but diddn't go that far.

The above is interesting because it is almost off-the-shelf, and at the weight it is can almost be worth it if you avoid a several hundred meter traverse once. (with 2020 rover class propulsion)

Title: Re: Mars sample return
Post by: redliox on 01/02/2018 04:56 AM
~1kg, ~220W, ~60cm coaxial rotor, ~3 minutes a day flight to ~100m altitude and several hundred meters traverse on integral solar.

It is unclear if this will fly on the Mars 2020 rover.
There are no further public releases after the video that I have found unfortunately. I contemplated mailing the PI, but diddn't go that far.

The above is interesting because it is almost off-the-shelf, and at the weight it is can almost be worth it if you avoid a several hundred meter traverse once. (with 2020 rover class propulsion)

If it doesn't fly on 2020 I would think it'd be quite handy in scouting human landing sites.  Mentioning it here isn't exactly on topic, but it does assist in finding nearby rocks worth sampling so it has some relevance in the overall scheme.  The low kilogram weight would mean, if you have room to accommodate those blades (which look like they get folded in some), almost any landed mission could send out one drone if not more.

Because the 2020 Rover is going to end up dictating the MSR site (in order to obviously fetch the samples), has there been any word on the landing site selection?  It's been nearly a year since the final 3 were whittled down.  The rover itself is slowly being built, and while the other 2 elements of MSR are in debate it's the first link in the chain.
Title: Re: Mars sample return
Post by: AegeanBlue on 01/02/2018 07:10 AM
If you read Squyres' book about the MERs, he mentions the 2003 Mars Sample Return mission which was supposed to launch in 2003 and get samples back following a second launch with the return architecture in 2005. What I remember from Squyres' book and from the Ulivi and Harland book was that they would use a solid launcher which was developed by the US Navy in the 1960s in a classified project and could return a coconut size sample which would be capture on orbit by a French satellite. Alas the internet does not have a good writeup of that mission and what was learned from it before it was cancelled following the twin failures of 1999. This is the best of what Google could find:

https://www.lpi.usra.edu/publications/slidesets/marslife/slide_38.html

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0094576500000850

https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?feature=5086

The current NASA plan shows up in several presentations on the web and has been discussed earlier. I have absolutely no idea what the SpaceX plan is supposed to be now that Red Dragon has been placed in the back burner following the cancellation of legs for the Crew Dragon. Would anyone like to propose a website or even a thread about the 2003/2005 NASA Mars Sample return, SpaceX current plan and the Chinese plan?
Title: Re: Mars sample return
Post by: jpo234 on 01/02/2018 09:17 AM


I have absolutely no idea what the SpaceX plan is supposed to be now that Red Dragon has been placed in the back burner following the cancellation of legs for the Crew Dragon. Would anyone like to propose a website or even a thread about the 2003/2005 NASA Mars Sample return, SpaceX current plan and the Chinese plan?

SpaceX's plan is right here: http://www.spacex.com/mars

Title: Re: Mars sample return
Post by: speedevil on 01/02/2018 03:32 PM
SpaceX's plan is right here: http://www.spacex.com/mars

It's really not.
They have stated goals for 2 BFS on mars in 2022, doing research on where ice and resources are, 4 more (2 with crew) in 2024, with that crew working on ISRU.
The implication is that they could do sample return perhaps sometime in 2026, with an actual geologist selecting the samples, but that plan is not at all fleshed out, and is so orthogonal to the goals they have that it's almost unaddressed.

There are plausible speculations that could be made - for example if they're going to do ice prospecting they want a rover for ground truth, and ... - but it's in much less detail than even the unfunded NASA proposals.

I really hope there are actually geologists on mars in 2026, but this schedule relies on so many things going right that considering more modest proposals with existing capabilities is also useful.

What might be done with a large payload on Mars, with NASA mission architecture, in the case that BFR mostly works (or new glenn) and is able to launch large payloads, but the funding is not there for SpaceXs martian ambitions is also interesting.

It is almost useless to speculate from the optimistic case for SpaceX, as once you get a geologist or ten out there with a capable car that they can drive around at insane speeds (curiosity has moved 10m/day) and return tons to earth, the question ceases to have much meaning.
(https://i.imgur.com/KQeETu2.jpg?1) ( From IAC presentation (http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=43839.msg1740515#msg1740515)
Title: Re: Mars sample return
Post by: RonM on 01/02/2018 04:11 PM
I'm sure SpaceX would have a geologist on the first manned flight. Bringing back samples would be a good way to generate income, especially if government research will pay the bill.

Realistically, SpaceX is not landing a crew in 2024. BFS is an aerospace program and we all know there will be delays. So, we should get back to discussing other plans for a sample return just in case Elon is being overly optimistic again.
Title: Re: Mars sample return
Post by: Negan on 01/02/2018 04:26 PM
Falcon 9H is an only rocket in next 5-10 years that will make possible to do Mars return sample.

It would certainly seem to allow a one launch architecture for the ERV and lander. I would also like to see what could happen if the 150 ton to LEO payload capability of BFR was utilized. BFR could have many, many launches under its belt by 2024. NASA might not trust BFR as a Mars lander by then, but launching into LEO should be well proven.

Edit: Subtracting the lander gives FH almost 13,000 kg for the ERV. Would there even be a need for SEP with that kind of capability?

Edit: Looks like NASA is looking at 2026 at the earliest for the lander.
Title: Re: Mars sample return
Post by: Patchouli on 01/02/2018 05:15 PM
Reading into one study regarding hybrid rocket propulsion for MSR here:
http://web.stanford.edu/~cantwell/Recent_publications/Boiron_AIAA_2013-3899.pdf (http://web.stanford.edu/~cantwell/Recent_publications/Boiron_AIAA_2013-3899.pdf)

A hybrid mentioned is paraffin wax and liquid oxygen.  Apparently at the right ratios it can get slightly higher than 360 seconds for specific impulse, nearly on par with methalox (not exceeding, but able to match its middle range).  It might even have a temperature tolerance able to handle at least the low if not middle latitudes of Mars.

Having only one stage would greatly simplify things and eliminate a failure mode.
Title: Re: Mars sample return
Post by: redliox on 01/02/2018 07:56 PM
Reading into one study regarding hybrid rocket propulsion for MSR here:
http://web.stanford.edu/~cantwell/Recent_publications/Boiron_AIAA_2013-3899.pdf (http://web.stanford.edu/~cantwell/Recent_publications/Boiron_AIAA_2013-3899.pdf)

A hybrid mentioned is paraffin wax and liquid oxygen.  Apparently at the right ratios it can get slightly higher than 360 seconds for specific impulse, nearly on par with methalox (not exceeding, but able to match its middle range).  It might even have a temperature tolerance able to handle at least the low if not middle latitudes of Mars.

Having only one stage would greatly simplify things and eliminate a failure mode.

Yes and no.  You could say the trick is where you're sending the samples...

When entering orbit, you technically have to make 2 burns with each establishing the orbit's apoapsis and periapsis (farthest and closest points).  When you launch, you're establishing an initial apoapsis.  Once you reach that point, that is when you need to make the second burn to  establish the periapsis...otherwise by default it is back on the planet's surface.  This is why the space shuttle's OMS engines, Saturn V's third stage, and the majority of current second stages make additional burns well after launch...to circularize orbit and prevent an embarrassing crash on Earth; in the case of MSR we're talking about crashing back to Mars (and obviously risking ruining the samples).

Hypothetically, a large single stage could fire the samples directly away from Mars onto a path to Earth.  However you definitely need local propellant production to do this.  For the moment, we might be able to manufacture oxygen using the 2020 MOXIE experiment, otherwise it's a stretch.

If you have to settle for Mars orbit, like low orbit for the current MSR plans, 2 stages are best.  The first launches while the second circularizes the orbit in short, although most likely the second stage may help in ascent too depending how much oomph stage 1 gives.
Title: Re: Mars sample return
Post by: Negan on 01/02/2018 10:03 PM
I wonder if any of the costs have changed. From the documentation below, just the lander portion is over 3 billion (covers everything accept return from Mars orbit).

https://ia800300.us.archive.org/24/items/MarsSampleReturnLanderMissionConceptStudy/09_Mars-Sample-Return-Lander-Final.pdf
Title: Re: Mars sample return
Post by: vjkane on 01/02/2018 10:14 PM
I wonder if any of the costs have changed. From the documentation below, just the lander portion is over 3 billion (covers everything accept return from Mars orbit).

https://ia800300.us.archive.org/24/items/MarsSampleReturnLanderMissionConceptStudy/09_Mars-Sample-Return-Lander-Final.pdf
NASA has stated that they believe they have options that would lower costs both through different technology/design choices and through collaboration.  They have not released those.
Title: Re: Mars sample return
Post by: AegeanBlue on 03/08/2018 11:23 PM
A presentation from MEXAG February 2018 meeting on MSR:

https://mepag.jpl.nasa.gov/meeting/2018-02/04_Edwards_MSRMidDecadal_MEPAG_VM1.pdf

Pretty interesting. They are actively developing hybrid propulsion for the ascent stage at Marshall
Title: Re: Mars sample return
Post by: Star One on 06/12/2018 07:56 PM
NASA continues Mars sample return mission studies

Quote
WASHINGTON — NASA doesn’t expect to make decisions on how it will carry out a Mars sample return effort until late next year despite recent discoveries that have offered additional evidence that the planet was once, and may still be, habitable.

Quote
“Certainly, Mars sample return is something that we are committed to as an agency,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine in a June 6 briefing with reporters. “That’s a civilization-level changing capability, and we want to do it.”

Quote
He noted that NASA’s 2019 budget proposal included $50 million to support planning for Mars sample return efforts. That funding line remained flat for later years in the budget proposal, pending development of a more detailed mission architecture.

“We’re going to give a lot more clarity about what that means exactly in the next budget cycle,” he said. However, he didn’t expect those plans to fall into place until late next year. “The first time we’re really going to start tying up things, really making decisions because we have parallel joint investigations going on in Europe as well, is late ’19. It’s not a decision this week or next week or next month.”

http://spacenews.com/nasa-continues-mars-sample-return-mission-studies/
Title: Re: Mars sample return
Post by: Don2 on 06/13/2018 06:28 AM
NASA is sounding fairly committed to sample return at this point.

I think that one consideration is that the Entry-Descent-Landing expertise tends to decay over time. If they launch Sample Return in 2026 that will be 6 years after the 2020 Rover. I worry that if they go later than that they might find that they have lost some of their capability to land successfully. We've had a Mars landing about every 5 years since the mid-90s, and a 2026 landing would maintain that tempo.

The other thing I was thinking about is that it would be a good idea to put a few scientific instruments on the fetch rover.  This rover will have to be capable of high speed driving. It needs to make 100m per day to be able to collect the samples in the time available. Once it has finished with the sample fetch mission, it could potentially last another 10 years and drive long distances across the surface. One interesting thing is that the Jezero Crater and NE Syrtis landing sites are within driving range of each other. Once the fetch mission is done it would be entirely possible for the fetch rover to drive to the site that wasn't selected. And it doesn't need a lot of instruments to do a useful mission. An APXS could provide bulk chemistry. An IR spectrometer could identify minerals, and a microscopic imager could study mineral grains and layers. Add a brush, and you have a simple science package that won't cost the Earth or weigh more than a few kilos.

A more ambitious plan would add a sample collecting drill and containers to the fetch rover. Why collect more samples? Firstly, the initial sample return attempt might not make it. If the fetch rover could collect samples, then there would be a spare batch of samples on the Martian surface. Even if the samples make it back to Earth, the scientists who study them are likely to want a second batch. Much will be learned from the first set of samples. The second sample collection effort could then target the most interesting areas.

@Star One ... It will  indeed be ironic if the Martians turn out to be from the same tree of life as Earthlings. There are two major families of 'bacteria', the Prokaryotes and the Archaea. Archaea tend to be found in extreme environments on Earth, so maybe they originally came from somewhere else.
Title: Re: Mars sample return
Post by: Star One on 06/13/2018 07:50 AM
NASA is sounding fairly committed to sample return at this point.

I think that one consideration is that the Entry-Descent-Landing expertise tends to decay over time. If they launch Sample Return in 2026 that will be 6 years after the 2020 Rover. I worry that if they go later than that they might find that they have lost some of their capability to land successfully. We've had a Mars landing about every 5 years since the mid-90s, and a 2026 landing would maintain that tempo.

The other thing I was thinking about is that it would be a good idea to put a few scientific instruments on the fetch rover.  This rover will have to be capable of high speed driving. It needs to make 100m per day to be able to collect the samples in the time available. Once it has finished with the sample fetch mission, it could potentially last another 10 years and drive long distances across the surface. One interesting thing is that the Jezero Crater and NE Syrtis landing sites are within driving range of each other. Once the fetch mission is done it would be entirely possible for the fetch rover to drive to the site that wasn't selected. And it doesn't need a lot of instruments to do a useful mission. An APXS could provide bulk chemistry. An IR spectrometer could identify minerals, and a microscopic imager could study mineral grains and layers. Add a brush, and you have a simple science package that won't cost the Earth or weigh more than a few kilos.

A more ambitious plan would add a sample collecting drill and containers to the fetch rover. Why collect more samples? Firstly, the initial sample return attempt might not make it. If the fetch rover could collect samples, then there would be a spare batch of samples on the Martian surface. Even if the samples make it back to Earth, the scientists who study them are likely to want a second batch. Much will be learned from the first set of samples. The second sample collection effort could then target the most interesting areas.

@Star One ... It will  indeed be ironic if the Martians turn out to be from the same tree of life as Earthlings. There are two major families of 'bacteria', the Prokaryotes and the Archaea. Archaea tend to be found in extreme environments on Earth, so maybe they originally came from somewhere else.

Well we still don’t know why the change happened that allowed complex life in the first place happened as it almost seems a one in a billion chance. Maybe the ‘change factor’ came  externally.
Title: Re: Mars sample return
Post by: CuddlyRocket on 06/13/2018 11:08 PM
It will  indeed be ironic if the Martians turn out to be from the same tree of life as Earthlings. There are two major families of 'bacteria', the Prokaryotes and the Archaea. Archaea tend to be found in extreme environments on Earth, so maybe they originally came from somewhere else.

Both Bacteria and Archaea are Prokaryotes. Although originally found in extreme environments Archaea are actually in many habitats (including humans!). As Bacteria and Archaea have many genes in common it is believed that they have a common ancestor.
Title: Re: Mars sample return
Post by: Don2 on 06/14/2018 12:15 AM
Yes, that is correct, Archaea and Bacteria are both types of Prokaryotes. They are typically 1 micron in size and are thought to have evolved over 3 billion years ago. Humans are made of Eukaryotic cells, which are far bigger and more complicated and are thought to have evolved 2 billion years ago.

Is there any chance that Archaea come from Mars and Bacteria come from Earth? Is it known why Archaea and Bacteria split into two different kingdoms?
Title: Re: Mars sample return
Post by: speedevil on 06/14/2018 12:23 AM
Is there any chance that Archaea come from Mars and Bacteria come from Earth? Is it known why Archaea and Bacteria split into two different kingdoms?
None whatsoever.
While being quite different, they share an enormous amount of common machinery, to the point they absolutely have to have a universal common ancestor.
Title: Re: Mars sample return
Post by: hop on 06/14/2018 02:06 AM
The other thing I was thinking about is that it would be a good idea to put a few scientific instruments on the fetch rover. 
Even the best case scenarios for MSR look like budget busters, so I'd be pretty surprised if the fetch rover had much of a dedicated science payload.
Title: Re: Mars sample return
Post by: Don2 on 06/14/2018 03:45 AM
None whatsoever.
While being quite different, they share an enormous amount of common machinery, to the point they absolutely have to have a universal common ancestor.

So a Martian organism that evolved independently is not going to share common machinery with a Bacteria or an Archaea. Even if they all look the same under a microscope, once you start applying modern biochemistry you could be absolutely sure that you could tell Martian life from Earth life. It seems to me that if you can distinguish Bacteria from Archaea, then it ought to be easy to distinguish Earth life from Martian. As long as they evolved independently. If panspermia works, then Bacteria, Archaea and Martians will all share a common ancestor and have some common machinery. That would make it harder to distinguish Martian life from contamination from Earth.

All of the above has implications for planetary protection. I think NASA worries too much about it.
Title: Re: Mars sample return
Post by: Star One on 06/14/2018 05:54 AM
None whatsoever.
While being quite different, they share an enormous amount of common machinery, to the point they absolutely have to have a universal common ancestor.

So a Martian organism that evolved independently is not going to share common machinery with a Bacteria or an Archaea. Even if they all look the same under a microscope, once you start applying modern biochemistry you could be absolutely sure that you could tell Martian life from Earth life. It seems to me that if you can distinguish Bacteria from Archaea, then it ought to be easy to distinguish Earth life from Martian. As long as they evolved independently. If panspermia works, then Bacteria, Archaea and Martians will all share a common ancestor and have some common machinery. That would make it harder to distinguish Martian life from contamination from Earth.

All of the above has implications for planetary protection. I think NASA worries too much about it.

Not if they both had a common ancestry. Earth and Mars are consistently sharing material, it didn’t suddenly stop.
Title: Re: Mars sample return
Post by: Don2 on 06/14/2018 07:15 AM

Not if they both had a common ancestry. Earth and Mars are consistently sharing material, it didn’t suddenly stop.

If panspermia ever happened, it would have been most feasible in the early solar system. Mars and Earth at than time would have had some places that had similar environments. At this point the environments are too different. If any habitable regions remain on Mars they are very small. And Earth has an oxygen atmosphere, which is likely toxic to any organism that isn't adapted to it. Oxygen is toxic to most primitive life forms. So I don't think that panspermia has happened recently.

Even if Martian and Earth organisms had a common ancestor, the environment on Mars would have lead to the evolution of distinctively Martian organisms which would have some unique features. DNA analysis would  identify the Martians.
Title: Re: Mars sample return
Post by: Don2 on 06/14/2018 07:26 AM
Even the best case scenarios for MSR look like budget busters, so I'd be pretty surprised if the fetch rover had much of a dedicated science payload.

I think that an APXS, an IR spectrometer and a microscopic imager are all small and cheap as instruments go. I agree that budget pressures will be severe, but the fetch rover will have years of useful life left after it has completed its primary mission.

There is also a case that adding anything that isn't strictly needed for sample return could open Pandora's box and lead to a cost explosion as more stuff is added. The is a case for being very focused.
Title: Re: Mars sample return
Post by: RonM on 06/14/2018 04:39 PM
Even the best case scenarios for MSR look like budget busters, so I'd be pretty surprised if the fetch rover had much of a dedicated science payload.

I think that an APXS, an IR spectrometer and a microscopic imager are all small and cheap as instruments go. I agree that budget pressures will be severe, but the fetch rover will have years of useful life left after it has completed its primary mission.

There is also a case that adding anything that isn't strictly needed for sample return could open Pandora's box and lead to a cost explosion as more stuff is added. The is a case for being very focused.

The fetch rover will be going over the same territory as the rover that left the samples. Might not be worth the money having instruments other than cameras to do a second look. The fetch rover will need cameras to navigate and pickup sample containers. Comparing with previous pictures to see how things have changed would be useful.

Title: Re: Mars sample return
Post by: Don2 on 06/15/2018 08:44 AM

The fetch rover will be going over the same territory as the rover that left the samples. Might not be worth the money having instruments other than cameras to do a second look. The fetch rover will need cameras to navigate and pickup sample containers. Comparing with previous pictures to see how things have changed would be useful.

Two of the top sites, Jezero Crater and NE Syrtis are within about 40km of each other. So it would be possible for a fast rover to drive to the site that had not been explored.  Jezero Crater is a crater lake with a delta, while the NE Syrtis site has diverse minerals. The whole region seems to have a lot of scientific interest. I think there would be plenty for the fetch rover to do. Curiosity is nowhere near done with Gale Crater after 6 years.

The fetch rover will only have 240 days to do the sample collection mission, so it will have to travel an average of 100m per day. Once it is done with the samples, it will have about 10 years worth of life left with a drive capability of about 35 km per year. I think the scientists would make good use of it.
Title: Re: Mars sample return
Post by: vjkane on 06/15/2018 09:41 AM
There are strong pressures to keep the fetch rover as simple as possible.  First, the rover will need to be very light; I believe that the current target is 125kg (Oppy is 180kg and ExoMars rover is ~425kg).  There will be a lot of pressure to keep it as simple as possible, which still requires a great deal of autonomy as well as a system to pick up the sample tubes and place them in a storage container.  Replicating the MER arm instruments would add a lot of complexity to the sample arm head

Any science instruments add complexity (as well as mass) so I'm betting that instruments will be kept off.  That said having the rover simply visit locations and image them with its cameras would still provide valuable scientific observations and ground truth for orbital observations.

Also, the highly capable Mars 2020 rover likely will have 10 years on its own to explore the region.  The fetch rover could be sent in a different direction to visit different locals.
Title: Re: Mars sample return
Post by: Star One on 06/15/2018 11:58 AM
There are strong pressures to keep the fetch rover as simple as possible.  First, the rover will need to be very light; I believe that the current target is 125kg (Oppy is 180kg and ExoMars rover is ~425kg).  There will be a lot of pressure to keep it as simple as possible, which still requires a great deal of autonomy as well as a system to pick up the sample tubes and place them in a storage container.  Replicating the MER arm instruments would add a lot of complexity to the sample arm head

Any science instruments add complexity (as well as mass) so I'm betting that instruments will be kept off.  That said having the rover simply visit locations and image them with its cameras would still provide valuable scientific observations and ground truth for orbital observations.

Also, the highly capable Mars 2020 rover likely will have 10 years on its own to explore the region.  The fetch rover could be sent in a different direction to visit different locals.

Will this total mission be the heaviest payload ever sent to Mars?
Title: Re: Mars sample return
Post by: Don2 on 06/16/2018 12:45 AM

Will this total mission be the heaviest payload ever sent to Mars?

So, from the 2010 mission concept study:

Lander mass = 554 kg
Sample return rocket mass = 300 kg
Fetch rover mass = 157 kg
(All these masses include the reserve. Without reserve the rover is 110 kg)

I assume that you have to add those together to get the total landed mass of 1011 kg.

That compares to 899 kg for Curiosity. So yes, it will be the heaviest payload ever sent to Mars.

They plan to use the same landing system as for MSL. Skycrane capability is quoted at 1050 kg, so they are getting close to the limits of the Skycrane.

Total cost was estimated at 2.5bn(2015 $)
Title: Re: Mars sample return
Post by: Star One on 06/16/2018 09:56 AM

Will this total mission be the heaviest payload ever sent to Mars?

So, from the 2010 mission concept study:

Lander mass = 554 kg
Sample return rocket mass = 300 kg
Fetch rover mass = 157 kg
(All these masses include the reserve. Without reserve the rover is 110 kg)

I assume that you have to add those together to get the total landed mass of 1011 kg.

That compares to 899 kg for Curiosity. So yes, it will be the heaviest payload ever sent to Mars.

They plan to use the same landing system as for MSL. Skycrane capability is quoted at 1050 kg, so they are getting close to the limits of the Skycrane.

Total cost was estimated at 2.5bn(2015 $)

I am assuming Atlas V will be out of the running by then as will DIVH and it will be straight fight of FH against Vulcan for the launcher.
Title: Re: Mars sample return
Post by: Blackstar on 06/16/2018 10:57 AM

Will this total mission be the heaviest payload ever sent to Mars?

So, from the 2010 mission concept study:

Lander mass = 554 kg
Sample return rocket mass = 300 kg
Fetch rover mass = 157 kg
(All these masses include the reserve. Without reserve the rover is 110 kg)

I assume that you have to add those together to get the total landed mass of 1011 kg.

That compares to 899 kg for Curiosity. So yes, it will be the heaviest payload ever sent to Mars.

They plan to use the same landing system as for MSL. Skycrane capability is quoted at 1050 kg, so they are getting close to the limits of the Skycrane.

Total cost was estimated at 2.5bn(2015 $)

All of which is OBE. We had that study done for the decadal survey. There's new work being conducted now and some of the tech decisions have been made or are about to be made.
Title: Re: Mars sample return
Post by: Don2 on 06/16/2018 09:37 PM

All of which is OBE. We had that study done for the decadal survey. There's new work being conducted now and some of the tech decisions have been made or are about to be made.

OBE? But it's OMHD! ;)

Looking at a fairly recent MEPAG presentation I notice that the sample return capsule has gone from 5 kg to 12 kg , and the return rocket (NASA calls this the MAV)  has switched from a proven solid to some kind of novel hybrid solid design. 12 kg seems like a lot of packaging for under 1 kg of sample, and I don't love the idea of developing a new rocket motor technology for the sample return mission.  I'm guessing the growing mass of the sample capsule has forced this switch?
Title: Re: Mars sample return
Post by: zhangmdev on 06/16/2018 11:32 PM

Looking at a fairly recent MEPAG presentation I notice that the sample return capsule has gone from 5 kg to 12 kg , <snip> 12 kg seems like a lot of packaging for under 1 kg of sample<snip>

Do you mean the mass of Orbiting Sample (OS) is increased to 12 Kg? That is a huge increase.

The following plan may be old, but

https://trs.jpl.nasa.gov/bitstream/handle/2014/13724/00-0092.pdf?sequence=1

The OS is another very highly constrained system. It is made up of two pieces, the sample canister (SaC) and the power structure. This sphere must survive in orbit around Mars for 6 years. The power structure constains solar cells that provide power to a beacon that allows it be found by the orbiter, as well as corner cubes so that the LIDAR on the orbiter can detect it.

I think the packaging part is not that simple. And the actual samples are less than 500 g.
Title: Re: Mars sample return
Post by: Blackstar on 06/17/2018 02:06 AM
return rocket (NASA calls this the MAV)  has switched from a proven solid to some kind of novel hybrid solid design.

They've been testing the rocket motors for months now. The technology is proven.
Title: Re: Mars sample return
Post by: Dalhousie on 06/17/2018 06:52 AM
There are strong pressures to keep the fetch rover as simple as possible.  First, the rover will need to be very light; I believe that the current target is 125kg (Oppy is 180kg and ExoMars rover is ~425kg).  There will be a lot of pressure to keep it as simple as possible, which still requires a great deal of autonomy as well as a system to pick up the sample tubes and place them in a storage container.  Replicating the MER arm instruments would add a lot of complexity to the sample arm head

Any science instruments add complexity (as well as mass) so I'm betting that instruments will be kept off.  That said having the rover simply visit locations and image them with its cameras would still provide valuable scientific observations and ground truth for orbital observations.

Also, the highly capable Mars 2020 rover likely will have 10 years on its own to explore the region.  The fetch rover could be sent in a different direction to visit different locals.

You can learn a lot scientifically from the Navcams, system environmental sensors, power delivered from panels, and power consumption by motors vs distance travelled.
Title: Re: Mars sample return
Post by: vjkane on 06/17/2018 07:22 AM

Looking at a fairly recent MEPAG presentation I notice that the sample return capsule has gone from 5 kg to 12 kg , and the return rocket (NASA calls this the MAV)  has switched from a proven solid to some kind of novel hybrid solid design. 12 kg seems like a lot of packaging for under 1 kg of sample, and I don't love the idea of developing a new rocket motor technology for the sample return mission.  I'm guessing the growing mass of the sample capsule has forced this switch?
I believe that a big driver is finding a fuel that could take long periods of cold temperatures. 
Title: Re: Mars sample return
Post by: zhangmdev on 06/17/2018 07:36 AM
Is the two-stage, solid motor-based MAV still the baseline design?

And ATK is developing a new propellant formulation specifically for the MAV

https://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi.ntrs.nasa.gov/20160008023.pdf
Title: Re: Mars sample return
Post by: Don2 on 06/17/2018 09:37 AM
OK, this is from the Feb 20 2018 MEPAG meeting.

https://mepag.jpl.nasa.gov/meeting/2018-02/04_Edwards_MSRMidDecadal_MEPAG_VM1.pdf


It states the Orbiting Sample is mass =< 12 kg, diameter =< 28cm and contains 31 tube slots and 2 sample air tanks.

On the rocket is says the 2 stage solid motor is no longer the baseline design.  They have switched to a single stage to orbit hybrid using MON as the oxidizer. Gross lift off mass is about 300 kg. It is the SP7 hybrid motor developed by MSFC. The motor and the thrust vector control system are listed as "Technology development underway." As of March 2018 it seems they had not done a full duration burn.

Using this hybrid motor saves about 100 kg relative to using a 2 stage solid.


I believe that a big driver is finding a fuel that could take long periods of cold temperatures. 
 

RTGs put out plenty of heat, they could use one of those to keep the rocket warm. The hybrid motor does have better low temperature performance.

Title: Re: Mars sample return
Post by: zhangmdev on 06/17/2018 11:33 AM
More than double the mass of OS is going to change the design of EEV?

The baseline Earth entry mass is/was 44 Kg. Is it still capable of protecting the 12 Kg OS?

https://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi.ntrs.nasa.gov/20080023907.pdf
Title: Re: Mars sample return
Post by: Blackstar on 06/17/2018 05:28 PM
There's more on this subject available. We had JPL come brief us about their progress back in December, and I think CAPS got a briefing. I don't know the current status of the rocket motor testing, but they started doing firings in September or October, and so they should be much farther along by now.

The other side of this is the budget issue. MSR tech development was prioritized in the decadal survey, but there was no funding for it from 2013 until last year. They are finally spending some money to do it, and they also seem to be planning on continuing to spend money on tech development. That's really good. But it's probably the case that a number of these issues could have been closed several years ago and they would be much further along on the R&D path.
Title: Re: Mars sample return
Post by: Don2 on 06/17/2018 08:23 PM
Here is a Caltech 2017 proposal for the MAV.

http://kiss.caltech.edu/lectures/Karp_Lecture_PPT.pdf (http://kiss.caltech.edu/lectures/Karp_Lecture_PPT.pdf)

I think the original orbiting sample was going to be 5 kg.
By 2014 that was up to 6.65 kg, a 20cm sphere
By 2015 that was up to 14 kg, a 30 cm sphere
In 2018 it is 12 kg, a 28 cm sphere

Needless to say, the mass of Martian material hasn't increased at all.  The packaging has got a lot heavier.

This seems to have driven a shift to the hybrid rocket.  The hybrid rocket technology isn't that mature, with a TRL of 3 at the time of the presentation in March 2017.

@zhangmdev...I don't have anything on the sample return capsule.
Title: Re: Mars sample return
Post by: Blackstar on 06/17/2018 09:48 PM
Here is a Caltech 2017 proposal for the MAV.

http://kiss.caltech.edu/lectures/Karp_Lecture_PPT.pdf (http://kiss.caltech.edu/lectures/Karp_Lecture_PPT.pdf)

I think the original orbiting sample was going to be 5 kg.
By 2014 that was up to 6.65 kg, a 20cm sphere
By 2015 that was up to 14 kg, a 30 cm sphere
In 2018 it is 12 kg, a 28 cm sphere

Needless to say, the mass of Martian material hasn't increased at all.  The packaging has got a lot heavier.

This seems to have driven a shift to the hybrid rocket.  The hybrid rocket technology isn't that mature, with a TRL of 3 at the time of the presentation in March 2017.

@zhangmdev...I don't have anything on the sample return capsule.


They're at TRL 4 or higher by now. As I said, they were firing rocket engines as of last fall.
Title: Re: Mars sample return
Post by: Don2 on 06/18/2018 06:33 AM
@Blackstar ... Any idea why the mass of the orbiting sample has gone up so much? 5 kg to 12 kg is a big increase and further increases could blow up the whole project.
Title: Mars sample return
Post by: Star One on 06/18/2018 07:13 AM
There was an opinion piece in issue 3180 of New Scientist pages 22& 23 strongly backing Mars sample return and stating it should be a top priority mission. I doubt anyone looking on this thread is going to disagree with that sentiment.
Title: Re: Mars sample return
Post by: Blackstar on 06/18/2018 10:15 AM
@Blackstar ... Any idea why the mass of the orbiting sample has gone up so much? 5 kg to 12 kg is a big increase and further increases could blow up the whole project.

No. But I would not over-interpret the study that was done in 2010 for the decadal survey. That was just a concept design, not anything very advanced. So I don't think you can really take that and then draw a line to what is currently going on and say "the mass increased." What was being done in 2010 involved ballpark estimates. Now they're looking at real hardware (for instance, the actual sample canisters themselves).
Title: Re: Mars sample return
Post by: deruch on 07/03/2018 04:01 AM
Here is a Caltech 2017 proposal for the MAV.

http://kiss.caltech.edu/lectures/Karp_Lecture_PPT.pdf (http://kiss.caltech.edu/lectures/Karp_Lecture_PPT.pdf)

I think the original orbiting sample was going to be 5 kg.
By 2014 that was up to 6.65 kg, a 20cm sphere
By 2015 that was up to 14 kg, a 30 cm sphere
In 2018 it is 12 kg, a 28 cm sphere

Needless to say, the mass of Martian material hasn't increased at all.  The packaging has got a lot heavier.

This seems to have driven a shift to the hybrid rocket.  The hybrid rocket technology isn't that mature, with a TRL of 3 at the time of the presentation in March 2017.

@zhangmdev...I don't have anything on the sample return capsule.

Here's the lecture video to go with those charts:

Hybrid Rocket Propulsion for a Low Temperature Mars Ascent Vehicle
KISSCaltech
Published on Mar 20, 2017

Watch Dr. Ashley C. Karp from Jet Propulsion Laboratory discuss a hybrid propulsion system for a conceptual Mars Ascent Vehicle (MAV). As part of a potential Mars Sample Return campaign, the MAV would be responsible for lifting Martian samples from the surface of Mars to orbit around Mars.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vGvjAsqxFGU?t=001s

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vGvjAsqxFGU
Title: Re: Mars sample return
Post by: redliox on 07/03/2018 09:41 AM
It's pleasing to see something materializing after all these years.  I still recall how there would have been a 2003 (or 2005, one or the other window) MSR attempt, but no doubt it would still have ultimately been put off.  I'm still not fond of the rendezvous idea, but at least it seems to be slowly becoming reality; whether or not the funds do of course is what it boils down to.

So a small hybrid rocket will put a ~12kg package into low orbit?
Title: Re: Mars sample return
Post by: Blackstar on 07/03/2018 02:46 PM
It's pleasing to see something materializing after all these years.  I still recall how there would have been a 2003 (or 2005, one or the other window) MSR attempt, but no doubt it would still have ultimately been put off.  I'm still not fond of the rendezvous idea, but at least it seems to be slowly becoming reality; whether or not the funds do of course is what it boils down to.

So a small hybrid rocket will put a ~12kg package into low orbit?

As one person asked me "MSR has been studied for decades, so what's different now?" I think that's a fair question, and there's actually a good answer.

First of all, I would step back and say that there are several things that are different now:

1-We have a much better understanding of Mars, including the best places go select samples. This is thanks to MRO, Odyssey, MER and Curiosity.

2-We have a much better understanding of biology and habitability.

3-Mars 2020, with sample caching capability, is being built.

So all of those things really set the stage and provide a firm foundation for finally implementing the next stages, including returning samples.

But as for what is new about the current studies: hardware testing. I think that if you go back to all the previous studies (thru around 2010) they were mostly basic trajectory analysis, engineering analysis, and maybe some basic simulation. Most of that stuff was the kind of thing that people do sitting at their computers and their desks. But the new aspects include test firing motors (see the slides I posted earlier, dating from November), and also doing detailed engineering simulations of the rendezvous concept. I think they've crunched some heavy computer time on the latter stuff. The result is that now they have real numbers that they can plug into their existing models and designs and refine them.

That's not to say that there is not a tremendous amount of work to be done developing a MAV. But the two biggest technology issues--the rocket motor and the rendezvous technique--have now been beaten down into shape. It has been seven months since those slides that I posted above, and they have undoubtedly made more progress. So the news is good.
Title: Re: Mars sample return
Post by: vjkane on 07/03/2018 03:04 PM

As one person asked me "MSR has been studied for decades, so what's different now?" I think that's a fair question, and there's actually a good answer.


As Blackstar notes, the technology developments are the game changer -- without them, a 2020s sample return wouldn't be possible.

In addition to his list, I believe the European willingness to consider (formal approval would come at the next ESA ministerial meeting, which I believe is next year) making significant contributions to the effort.  This greatly reduces the costs to NASA.

Under the proposed division of effort, ESA would provide:

- the sample return orbiter
- sample fetch rover
- sample return transfer arm that would take the samples from the fetch rover and place them in the sample container

NASA would provide:

- 2020 sample collection rover
- sample return lander that would place the Mars ascent vehicle (MAV) and the fetch rover on the surface
- the MAV
- the sample capture, handling, and containment system on the return orbiter
- Earth entry vehicle

Title: Re: Mars sample return
Post by: Cheapchips on 07/03/2018 03:35 PM

China's 2028 HX-2 looks to be their sample return mission, based on the roadmap picture?

https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=7058.msg1834660#msg1834660
Title: Re: Mars sample return
Post by: Blackstar on 07/03/2018 03:39 PM

As one person asked me "MSR has been studied for decades, so what's different now?" I think that's a fair question, and there's actually a good answer.


As Blackstar notes, the technology developments are the game changer -- without them, a 2020s sample return wouldn't be possible.


I never use the term "game changer." In fact, I ban it from my reports.
Title: Re: Mars sample return
Post by: Blackstar on 07/03/2018 03:42 PM
In addition to his list, I believe the European willingness to consider (formal approval would come at the next ESA ministerial meeting, which I believe is next year) making significant contributions to the effort.  This greatly reduces the costs to NASA.

Under the proposed division of effort, ESA would provide:

- the sample return orbiter
- sample fetch rover
- sample return transfer arm that would take the samples from the fetch rover and place them in the sample container

NASA would provide:

- 2020 sample collection rover
- sample return lander that would place the Mars ascent vehicle (MAV) and the fetch rover on the surface
- the MAV
- the sample capture, handling, and containment system on the return orbiter
- Earth entry vehicle


So I am hopeful that the NASA-European collaboration will take place. When we did the decadal survey, our expectation was that there would be substantial international participation. In fact, that's something that hurt us a bit, because we had to price out the MSR mission as an all-NASA mission, but the expectation was that the return vehicle would probably be built by the Europeans and would reduce the American cost by hundreds of millions of dollars.

That said, I've seen international agreements collapse before. And it's happened because the United States was an unreliable partner. So I really temper my enthusiasm about this. I want it to happen, but I am nervous about it.
Title: Re: Mars sample return
Post by: redliox on 07/04/2018 01:32 AM
3-Mars 2020, with sample caching capability, is being built.

So all of those things really set the stage and provide a firm foundation for finally implementing the next stages, including returning samples.

On the subject of foundation, in regards to MSR Mars 2020 will end up being immensely influential.  The most obvious reason being...it's going to define where our samples come from and where the fetch rover and MAV need to land.  And, as you well know, we've already narrowed down this influential choice down to 3 possibilities (more like 2 or 2.5 given how the non-Gusev Crater sites are next door to each other).

Any thoughts on how 2020 will directly affect MSR, with emphasis on the MAV?

On a broader note, what about future samples?  This first batch of samples will of course be a quantum leap in understanding Mars, but they will still speak only of one region of a planet.  Should there be additional MSR missions or perhaps left up to humans to pickup the job?
Title: Re: Mars sample return
Post by: bolun on 07/22/2018 02:46 PM
Airbus wins two ESA studies for Mars Sample Return mission

Stevenage / Toulouse, 05/07/2018 - Airbus has won two studies from the European Space Agency (ESA) to design a Sample Fetch Rover and an Earth Return Orbiter. These two elements will be critical parts of a mission to return samples of the planet Mars to Earth before the end of the next decade. NASA and ESA signed a letter of intent in April 2018 to pursue a Mars Sample Return mission.
 
After launching to Mars in 2026, the Mars Sample Fetch Rover will retrieve Mars samples left by the Mars2020 rover. This NASA rover will leave 36 pen sized sample tubes on the Martian surface ready to be collected later. The Sample Fetch Rover will pick up the sample tubes, carry them back and load them into a sample container within the waiting Mars Ascent Vehicle. The Mars Ascent Vehicle will then launch from the surface and put the sample container into orbit about Mars.

As a third part of the mission, ESA’s Earth Return Orbiter, will capture the basketball sized sample container orbiting Mars, seal it within a biocontainment system, and bring the samples back to Earth. The samples will re-enter Earth’s atmosphere and land in the USA before the end of the next decade. Scientists from around the world will then be able to study the samples in using the latest laboratory equipment and analysis techniques for years to come.

Patrick Lelong, Project Manager by Airbus for the Earth Return Orbiter study, said: “Our long experience in complex scientific exploration missions such as Rosetta, BepiColombo and Mars Express will be a great asset for this study. The mission is technologically very challenging, but the prospect of seeing a sample of Mars returning to Earth is very exciting.”

Ben Boyes, Project Manager by Airbus for the Sample Fetch Rover study, said: “With the combined expertise of ESA and NASA, this landmark mission is ambitious and technologically very advanced, with two rovers interacting together on Mars for the first time. A double first of launching from the planet’s surface and the in-orbit transfer of the samples means it will be possible for the first time to directly study Mars soil in laboratories on Earth.”

David Parker, Director of Human and Robotic Exploration at ESA, said: “Bringing samples back from Mars is essential in more than one way. Firstly to understand why Mars, although it is the planet that is most similar to Earth, took a very different evolutionary path than Earth and secondly to fully comprehend the Martian environment in order to allow humans to one day work and live on the Red Planet. 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.”

Both Sample Fetch Rover and Earth Return Orbiter are part of ESA-NASA’s proposed Mars Sample Return mission that is looking to be approved at the 2019 ESA council at ministerial level.

https://www.airbus.com/newsroom/press-releases/en/2018/07/Airbus-wins-two-ESA-studies-for-Mars-Sample-Return-mission.html
Title: Re: Mars sample return
Post by: bolun on 07/22/2018 02:49 PM
https://www.gov.uk/government/news/uk-space-sector-set-to-benefit-from-new-european-space-agency-contract

Quote
A new rover set to visit Mars and collect the first ever samples from the planet to be brought back safely to Earth, will be designed in Stevenage by Airbus following the award of a £3.9 million contract by the European Space Agency (ESA).

The sample fetch rover will retrieve samples left by NASA’s Mars 2020 rover and transfer them to an ascent vehicle. This will put them into orbit about the planet, where they will then be brought back to Earth by a separate spacecraft.

Image credit: Airbus
Title: Re: Mars sample return
Post by: redliox on 07/24/2018 03:30 PM
Thanks to perseverance, I think in the next 10 years we might finally see MSR happen.   A few thoughts occur to me, but this time not so much out of criticism but out of long-term goals...

When MSR happens, it is going to be very dependent on where Mars 2020 grabs its collection; this is going to boil down to either Gusev Crater or the trio of sites around Jezero Crater.  Very good science yields will result, that much will be sure.  Downside: ultimately we're only going to get material from one region of Mars when, even on a glorified desert planet, there are different landscapes with diverging histories.

What happens next after 2020-MSR?  Will there be more sampling missions?  Will they follow the exact same routine or a different one?  I'm curious if missions after (the first) MSR are being considered, although understandably 2020-MSR alone warrants enough attention.
Title: Re: Mars sample return
Post by: zubenelgenubi on 07/24/2018 05:57 PM
<snip>
What happens next after 2020-MSR?  Will there be more sampling missions?  Will they follow the exact same routine or a different one?  I'm curious if missions after (the first) MSR are being considered, although understandably 2020-MSR alone warrants enough attention.
Good question!  Three further thoughts:

ONE
Should a full set of spare assemblies and parts be constructed as part of the initial MSR build, by the several international partners, that could be assembled as a follow-on mission?  (Orbiter, lander, sample return)

TWO
Should final mission assembly and launch of such an "MSR-F/O" wait until the initial study of the first returned samples is completed?

OR, THREE
Is the built-in assumption that MSR will be succeeded, within a few years, by crewed landing and sample return missions?

EDIT 7/26: A similar discussion re: cost savings via duplicating/triplicating s/c for follow-on missions, particularly Ice Giants missions, started after this post: https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=33971.msg1840509#msg1840509
Title: Re: Mars sample return
Post by: TripleSeven on 07/24/2018 06:01 PM
Thanks to perseverance, I think in the next 10 years we might finally see MSR happen.   A few thoughts occur to me, but this time not so much out of criticism but out of long-term goals...

When MSR happens, it is going to be very dependent on where Mars 2020 grabs its collection; this is going to boil down to either Gusev Crater or the trio of sites around Jezero Crater.  Very good science yields will result, that much will be sure.  Downside: ultimately we're only going to get material from one region of Mars when, even on a glorified desert planet, there are different landscapes with diverging histories.

What happens next after 2020-MSR?  Will there be more sampling missions?  Will they follow the exact same routine or a different one?  I'm curious if missions after (the first) MSR are being considered, although understandably 2020-MSR alone warrants enough attention.

at the cost level necessary, the first mars samples will be the last ones for awhile. 

but we are not all the close to having any at all...maybe 20 years away
Title: Re: Mars sample return
Post by: Blackstar on 07/24/2018 11:20 PM
at the cost level necessary, the first mars samples will be the last ones for awhile. 

but we are not all the close to having any at all...maybe 20 years away

I think it is entirely possible within the 2020s. Might take a few years longer, but:

-Mars 2020 is going there to cache samples
-NASA is finally making good technology development progress on the return vehicle technology
-ESA is interested

I think that once Mars 2020 is on the surface collecting samples, the momentum is going to increase. That includes international momentum. NASA can go to ESA and JAXA and say "We have samples right now that are collected and awaiting return. Would you like to look at them? Then join us in a retrieval mission." That's a powerful argument.
Title: Re: Mars sample return
Post by: vjkane on 07/25/2018 03:13 PM
I think that once Mars 2020 is on the surface collecting samples, the momentum is going to increase. That includes international momentum. NASA can go to ESA and JAXA and say "We have samples right now that are collected and awaiting return. Would you like to look at them? Then join us in a retrieval mission." That's a powerful argument.
ESA has been interested in working with NASA on a sample return for at least a decade.  There was a formal series of collaborations on studies in the last decade for a potential joint sample return.  That effort was cancelled (by NASA if memory serves me correctly).  Presentations at the recent Berlin sample return conference from ESA presenters make several references to that prior effort.
Title: Re: Mars sample return
Post by: Blackstar on 07/25/2018 09:35 PM
I think that once Mars 2020 is on the surface collecting samples, the momentum is going to increase. That includes international momentum. NASA can go to ESA and JAXA and say "We have samples right now that are collected and awaiting return. Would you like to look at them? Then join us in a retrieval mission." That's a powerful argument.
ESA has been interested in working with NASA on a sample return for at least a decade.  There was a formal series of collaborations on studies in the last decade for a potential joint sample return.  That effort was cancelled (by NASA if memory serves me correctly).  Presentations at the recent Berlin sample return conference from ESA presenters make several references to that prior effort.


Yes, they're interested now. But my point is that when NASA is actually collecting the stuff, it will focus everybody's attention a lot more.
Title: Re: Mars sample return
Post by: redliox on 07/25/2018 09:45 PM
Yes, they're interested now. But my point is that when NASA is actually collecting the stuff, it will focus everybody's attention a lot more.

Assuming such interest and a 2nd sampling mission desired, do you think they'd repeat the same strategy or attempt to streamline it?  If the rover program is an analogy, in just under 2 decades we went from airbags and Sojourner to skycranes and Curiosity.  Would they try to improve MSR 2.0?  Granted, this is a longshot question...
Title: Re: Mars sample return
Post by: redliox on 07/25/2018 09:46 PM
Also, very recently, there's now the prospect of the Martian South Pole harboring brine lakes.  Assuming planetary protection allows it, would sampling that water become the next priority post-2020/MSR 1.0?
Title: Re: Mars sample return
Post by: whitelancer64 on 07/25/2018 10:17 PM
Also, very recently, there's now the prospect of the Martian South Pole harboring brine lakes.  Assuming planetary protection allows it, would sampling that water become the next priority post-2020/MSR 1.0?

The lake is 1.5 km under the ice cap. So it would need to be a heck of a rover to drill down that far.
Title: Re: Mars sample return
Post by: Blackstar on 07/25/2018 11:08 PM
Yes, they're interested now. But my point is that when NASA is actually collecting the stuff, it will focus everybody's attention a lot more.

Assuming such interest and a 2nd sampling mission desired, do you think they'd repeat the same strategy or attempt to streamline it?  If the rover program is an analogy, in just under 2 decades we went from airbags and Sojourner to skycranes and Curiosity.  Would they try to improve MSR 2.0?  Granted, this is a longshot question...

What does "streamline" actually mean? They are already pursuing a more focused strategy.

I think that it's too early to say. I think that getting some samples back is going to whet the appetite for more samples. But this is not a cheap mission by any means. It's never going to be cheap. This is really difficult to do, and only a few people (at JPL and Lockheed Martin) even know how to land stuff on Mars, let alone get it off the surface. So the opportunity to make it cheaper is slim.

But NASA has demonstrated that they will re-use proven technology, and so if the MSR technology proves itself, they'll want to use that again if the scientific community tells them to get more samples from a different location.
Title: Re: Mars sample return
Post by: vjkane on 07/25/2018 11:19 PM

What does "streamline" actually mean? They are already pursuing a more focused strategy.

There have been proposals for missions that grab the sample from immediately around the lander that carries the Mars Ascent Vehicle (much like the proposed New Frontiers lunar sample return mission).  However, this only works in areas where the bulk composition can answer the questions (as is true for the lunar mission).  Experience on the ground at Mars has shown that the samples desired to focus on questions of biosignatures/life are found in highly localized distributed locations -- hence a major rover mission focused on finding and collecting the right samples.

I suspect that the Chinese Mars sample return mission, should it fly, will follow the collect the samples in the local location.  That still leaves them with the challenge of 1) flying a wonking big MAV that can send the return samples directly to Earth (has been proposed by NASA studies in past decades) or flying separate lander and Mars orbiter/Earth return spacecraft.
Title: Re: Mars sample return
Post by: ncb1397 on 07/26/2018 12:45 AM
Yes, they're interested now. But my point is that when NASA is actually collecting the stuff, it will focus everybody's attention a lot more.

Assuming such interest and a 2nd sampling mission desired, do you think they'd repeat the same strategy or attempt to streamline it?  If the rover program is an analogy, in just under 2 decades we went from airbags and Sojourner to skycranes and Curiosity.  Would they try to improve MSR 2.0?  Granted, this is a longshot question...

What does "streamline" actually mean? They are already pursuing a more focused strategy.


Probably something like this:

(https://i.imgur.com/Ce7z6Oa.png)

MAV is about 3 meters like those posted up thread, mounted to a modified third MSL platform. Obviously inspired by road mobile ICBMs. Further streamlining would be adding 2 km/s to the MAV so you don't even need the orbiter and it just does direct to earth.

But the current plan involving a rover and orbiter probably satisfies the "rover" people and the "orbiter" people that don't want sample return eating their lunch. It gets them on board with sample return.
Title: Re: Mars sample return
Post by: Blackstar on 07/26/2018 02:22 AM
Probably something like this:

Pfffffttttt!

Not. A. Real. Concept.

Do you really want to be bouncing your return vehicle around on a rover?

No.
Title: Re: Mars sample return
Post by: redliox on 07/26/2018 04:31 AM
Yes, they're interested now. But my point is that when NASA is actually collecting the stuff, it will focus everybody's attention a lot more.

Assuming such interest and a 2nd sampling mission desired, do you think they'd repeat the same strategy or attempt to streamline it?  If the rover program is an analogy, in just under 2 decades we went from airbags and Sojourner to skycranes and Curiosity.  Would they try to improve MSR 2.0?  Granted, this is a longshot question...

What does "streamline" actually mean? They are already pursuing a more focused strategy.

Instead of 2 rovers, a lander/MAV, and an orbiter/ERV, say either a MAV and ERV or a direct return setup?  Each of these pieces of equipment runs a billion a piece sometimes.  I'm sure you'd heard Zubrin squawk about direct return heavily.  At the least reduce the number down to 2.

Considering the lake is underground, a stationary drilling lander would be more useful if you want either the water or ice close to it.  Unless you want complementary surface samples, a rover in this lake situation is unnecessary.
Title: Re: Mars sample return
Post by: Blackstar on 07/26/2018 01:35 PM
I'm sure you'd heard Zubrin squawk about direct return heavily. 

Zubrin has no involvement/influence in Mars programs. The people who are involved in Mars programs work at JPL, Lockheed Martin, NASA HQ, and universities and research centers.
Title: Re: Mars sample return
Post by: zubenelgenubi on 07/26/2018 04:37 PM
Zubrin has no involvement/influence in Mars programs.

An inconvenient truth that some amateur Mars-first fanatics don't seem to grok.

(Like the person who spammed the 2009 Augustine Commission public meeting location in DC with the "Mars Direct Cowards Return to the Moon" placards.)
http://thespacereview.com/article/1435/1
Title: Re: Mars sample return
Post by: Blackstar on 07/26/2018 06:07 PM
I forgot about that. I wonder if I still have that placard? (After all, I took the photo.)

Zubrin's really more of an entertainer. He doesn't have influence. The things he has said and done in the past, and his general demeanor, have limited his ability to have influence. He's dismissed the space medicine community by saying that their research stems from Nazi experiments. Why would any medical research expert listen to him after that? He's said similar inflammatory things about various aspects of space engineering. And he's said some really nutty things about NASA management. After all that, nobody who controls budgets or policies wants to listen to him.

Bringing this a bit back on topic, I think I've read some of his comments, or heard them, about Mars sample return. He is dismissive of it. He does not think it is necessary. He's never really embraced the idea of precursor missions to scout out landing sites, determine the conditions at Mars, identify resources, etc. His attitude has always been "Let's just go!" which is great for rallying crowds of Mars enthusiasts, but for a human space program it's a bit like heading out into a desert before checking to see if you have enough water.
Title: Re: Mars sample return
Post by: Dalhousie on 07/26/2018 11:36 PM
I forgot about that. I wonder if I still have that placard? (After all, I took the photo.)

Zubrin's really more of an entertainer. He doesn't have influence. The things he has said and done in the past, and his general demeanor, have limited his ability to have influence. He's dismissed the space medicine community by saying that their research stems from Nazi experiments. Why would any medical research expert listen to him after that? He's said similar inflammatory things about various aspects of space engineering. And he's said some really nutty things about NASA management. After all that, nobody who controls budgets or policies wants to listen to him.

Bringing this a bit back on topic, I think I've read some of his comments, or heard them, about Mars sample return. He is dismissive of it. He does not think it is necessary. He's never really embraced the idea of precursor missions to scout out landing sites, determine the conditions at Mars, identify resources, etc. His attitude has always been "Let's just go!" which is great for rallying crowds of Mars enthusiasts, but for a human space program it's a bit like heading out into a desert before checking to see if you have enough water.

Zubrin is very entertaining but to discuss him as just an entertainer is wrong.  He has been highly influential thinker, a published researcher, and a very innovative engineer.
Title: Re: Mars sample return
Post by: Dalhousie on 07/26/2018 11:38 PM
Also, very recently, there's now the prospect of the Martian South Pole harboring brine lakes.  Assuming planetary protection allows it, would sampling that water become the next priority post-2020/MSR 1.0?

The lake is 1.5 km under the ice cap. So it would need to be a heck of a rover to drill down that far.

You would need more than a rover.  You would need a large surface station operating for years.