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Mars NASA Space News Science

Could Curiosity Rover Moonlight As Part of a Sample Return Mission? 65

Posted by timothy
from the be-grateful-for-infinite-resources dept.
pigrabbitbear writes "After recent budget cuts to NASA's Mars program, the agency's dream of a sample return mission within the next decade is dead in the water. But the $2.5 billion rover Curiosity is on its way to the red planet right now, and speculation is popping up online that it could fairly easily be retrofitted with the hardware needed to collect and store samples. Theoretically NASA would just need one more mission to collect and return those samples, turning Curiosity into the first phase of the sample return dream."
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Could Curiosity Rover Moonlight As Part of a Sample Return Mission?

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  • Re:Pathetic (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 03, 2012 @01:15AM (#39229517)

    I think the US' lack of excitement by space exploration *is* the reason it will take them a decade.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 03, 2012 @01:19AM (#39229527)

    Several considerations come to mind:

    1. A "retrofit package" would have huge ratio of ancillary equipment to payload, which is highly inefficient in terms of spending the agency's small and shrinking budget.
    2. The most interesting part of Mars is (possibly wet or icy) underground, beyond the range of ultraviolet radiation, GCR and solar wind. Since Curiosity ain't fitted with a drill, this is again inefficient.
    3. There are no guarantees that the "retrofit package" lands accurately within reach of the MSL.

  • Re:Pathetic (Score:4, Insightful)

    by scottrocket (1065416) <loudfellow@gmail.com> on Saturday March 03, 2012 @03:57AM (#39229921) Journal

    The shuttle program was impressive... but exciting? I'm not so sure about that.

    For those of us old enough to remember being glued to CNN all night long, being disappointed when the mission was scrubbed-and then doing it all over again the next night, listening to John Holliman interview astronauts et al.about the future of manned space flight, watching the shuttle when it finally rose on flaming pillars-yeah, it was exciting. Absolutely. It almost didn't matter if it was the most practical vehicle or not, it was inspirational and of course, just cool.

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