NASA wants mission to bring Martian rocks to Earth

May 18, 2010
Mars. Image: NASA

(AP) -- For the past decade, NASA's Mars exploration strategy was to follow the water.

Signs of water have been found in weathered rocks, mineral deposits and the arctic plains. Now, scientists say it's time to search for life again - something the space agency hasn't done directly since 1976 when the Viking mission turned up empty-handed.

This time, there's a push to bring Martian rock and soil samples back to . Here, they could be analyzed for fossilized traces of alien bacteria, or chemical or biological clues that could only be explained by something that was alive.

can't afford such a mission on its own, so it recently joined the to map out a shared project.

Space policy experts think the timing is right despite the risks and hefty price tag, which can cost as much as $10 billion.

Explore further: Second time through, Mars rover examines chosen rocks

4.9 /5 (12 votes)
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probes
1 / 5 (2) May 18, 2010
"hefty price tag, which can cost as much as $10 billion." - this is probably just for the 200KW VASIMR engine that will be required. Incredible
kits
not rated yet May 18, 2010
its high time!
S_Bilderback
5 / 5 (4) May 18, 2010
Get rid of the bureaucrats, let the scientists do their work and the cost would be well under a billion $.
BigTone
4 / 5 (2) May 18, 2010
IMHO Sample return missions are the only way the skeptics will ever be convinced about the ancient or living microbes on Mars... Great job NASA - chase this game changer!!
LKD
5 / 5 (2) May 18, 2010
NASA is struggling to get the Webb up in space, and that is nearly complete, I question the possibility this will ever take off.

Congress seems much happier spending the money on useless pork than NASA. I feel awful for them as they are being relegated to a useless bureaucracy.

I am curious though, who is leading this effort? Can we send them encouragement emails?
omatumr
1.7 / 5 (11) May 18, 2010
I agree, Martian samples may contain important new information.

But given NASA's involvement in hiding or manipulating data from the Apollo Mission to the Moon and the Galileo Mission to Jupiter [Meteoritics 18 (1983) 209-222; Meteoritics & Planetary Science 33 (1998) A97, paper 5011], new projects for NASA should probably be put on hold until the central role of the US government and federal agencies in supporting the ongoing global climate scandal is better known.

With kind regards,
Oliver K. Manuel

PieRSquare
3.9 / 5 (7) May 18, 2010
this is probably just for the 200KW VASIMR engine that will be required. Incredible

Always with the 200KW VASMIR... Nothing is indicated anywhere about this tech being used for this mission nor is there any reason to think you would have to have one to do it. Probes seems convinced that a 200KW VASMIR will balance your chequebook, cure warts and bring lasting peace to the middle-east.
plasticpower
3 / 5 (2) May 18, 2010
this is probably just for the 200KW VASIMR engine that will be required. Incredible

Always with the 200KW VASMIR... Nothing is indicated anywhere about this tech being used for this mission nor is there any reason to think you would have to have one to do it. Probes seems convinced that a 200KW VASMIR will balance your chequebook, cure warts and bring lasting peace to the middle-east.

I thought carbon nanotubes were supposed to do all those things?
Skepticus
3 / 5 (3) May 18, 2010
I find this business of designing new spacecraft from scratch for every mission quite depressing. The Shuttle was a step in the right direction, but there is no Shuttle Mk.2, 3... that can go faster, further, more robust, lighter nor cheaper,..etc. Until we can competently built spacecrafts like Boeing does air crafts, with different ones for cargo class, manned exploration class,.etc, we will be hearing these grandiose plans for exploration-from NASA and its peers-with billions dollar vaporware spacecrafts for a long time to come.
deatopmg
1.6 / 5 (7) May 18, 2010
Returning Mars samples to the Earth is insanity. There is no telling what type of life exists on Mars, especially since NASA has (purposely?)avoided sending any life detecting equipment to Mars since the Viking missions. (The furnace/chromatograph on the Phoenix mission was NOT a life detecting system.)
Skepticus
1.7 / 5 (6) May 18, 2010
Returning Mars samples to the Earth is insanity. There is no telling what type of life exists on Mars, especially since NASA has (purposely?)avoided sending any life detecting equipment to Mars since the Viking missions. (The furnace/chromatograph on the Phoenix mission was NOT a life detecting system.)


...and I wonder about all those lost telemetry, malfunctioning antennas and cameras of interesting parameters in too many missions.
OckhamsRazor
4 / 5 (5) May 19, 2010
Aaah, life would be so uninteresting without all you whacky conspiracy theorists :) If all these covered up discoveries have been kept out of sight for so long, what makes any of you so convinced of their existence?

This is a good idea, despite how long they've been mulling it over. Obviously, it will be just a bit trickier than getting moon samples back to Earth, but no doubt worth it. So much easier to unclog clumps of dirt in the equipment by hand!
probes
1 / 5 (4) May 20, 2010
How on earth are you going to unclog clumps of dirt from a 200MW VASIMR engine by hand? That is impossible.
hard2grep
5 / 5 (1) May 23, 2010
Although I am skeptical that they will find evidence of life, we do need to bring some rocks back. Beyond conspiracy or extreme hope, this effort will give us very valuable information about Mars that out instruments do not detect.
ubavontuba
1.8 / 5 (5) May 23, 2010
Oh brother. Signs of life HAVE been detected on Mars. There's definitely a conspiracy to hush it up. To demonstrate, here's a perfect example from this very site:
http://cdn.physor...rexa.jpg

Here's the article:
http://www.physor...913.html

Any mineralogist worth his salt would instantly recognize this as a fibrous material (similar to petrified wood samples).

Here's NASA's raw image selection:
http://marsrover....ity.html

Please notice how there are no microscopic imager pictures listed for the examination of this material (sol2147). Yet clearly, the arm with the imager is deployed at this time on this target, as seen here:
http://marsrover....147.html

Worse, here's an image they credit with being a microscopic image of this rock:
http://marsrover....I_br.jpg

It's clearly not the same rock!
ubavontuba
1 / 5 (2) May 23, 2010
Here are some of the microscopic images they took of this rock, days later:
http://marsrover....154.html

Why is it all about the blueberries, and not the rock itself? Where are the low (vertical face) images from 2147?

Did they really just not take any? Were they, themselves, so distracted by the blueberries that they entirely missed the interestingly fibrous nature of the rock itself?
yyz
1 / 5 (1) May 23, 2010
Shades of Richard Hoagland^

You forgot the evidence that proves Phobos is a hollow, artificial construction: http://www.enterp...bos.html

"Phobos is, in fact--

An "ancient ... ex terrestrial ... very battered ... 15-mile-long"--

Spaceship."

Richard sez ESA confirmation of this conclusion will be released any day. LOL
ubavontuba
1 / 5 (1) May 24, 2010
Shades of Richard Hoagland^

You forgot the evidence that proves Phobos is a hollow, artificial construction: http://www.enterp...bos.html

"Phobos is, in fact--

An "ancient ... ex terrestrial ... very battered ... 15-mile-long"--

Spaceship."

Richard sez ESA confirmation of this conclusion will be released any day. LOL
Are you nuts? What's that got to do with the serious lack of attention to an obviously fibrous rock?
yyz
5 / 5 (1) May 24, 2010
Sorry, when I read about a 'conspiracy' concerning Mars, Richard Hoagland just naturally comes to mind. The 'Life on Mars' conspiracy was popular on the internet around this time last year. I'm familiar with the arguments you have posted and was just amused to see them trotted out again. I didn't mean to directly link Richard Hoagland with the "serious lack of attention to an obviously fibrous rock" and apologize for any serious consternation my comments may have caused.
ubavontuba
1 / 5 (1) May 24, 2010
Sorry, when I read about a 'conspiracy' concerning Mars, Richard Hoagland just naturally comes to mind. The 'Life on Mars' conspiracy was popular on the internet around this time last year. I'm familiar with the arguments you have posted and was just amused to see them trotted out again. I didn't mean to directly link Richard Hoagland with the "serious lack of attention to an obviously fibrous rock" and apologize for any serious consternation my comments may have caused.
I accept your apology. Thanks.

I'd still like to know what that robotic arm was doing for those several days though...
Modernmystic
3 / 5 (2) Jun 12, 2010
Uh...there are ALREADY Mars rocks all over this planet...

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