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Mars NASA Space

NASA Wants To Bring Back Hunks of Mars In Future Unmanned Mission 82

Posted by Soulskill
from the live-at-red-rocks dept.
coondoggie writes "The space missions to Mars have so far been one way — satellites and robotic rovers have all gone there to stay. NASA, as part a of a new, ambitious Mars visit, wants to change that by sending a rover to the surface of the Red Planet which can dig up chunks of the surface and send them back to Earth for highly detailed examination. These plans were laid out in a lengthy report outlining mission plans for Mars that will be acted upon over the next decade. It says a retrieval mission 'could occur as early as the mid-2020s or wait until the 2030s.'"
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NASA Wants To Bring Back Hunks of Mars In Future Unmanned Mission

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  • by kk49 (829669) on Wednesday July 10, 2013 @06:29PM (#44244681)

    Whaka Whaka

    • by bkmoore (1910118)
      Ba-Da-Bing.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      About it.
      They should be planning and building toward a permanent scientific station on the surface.

      Instead they just come up with these publicity stunts.

      We should have had a permanent scientific station on the moon for the last decade.

      If NASA isn't going to fish or cut bait, it is time to RIF the whole bunch.

  • by ColdWetDog (752185) on Wednesday July 10, 2013 @06:32PM (#44244729) Homepage
  • By that time, Mars One is scheduled to have people on Mars, so NASA can simply send a retrieval rocket and ask those people to collect some samples - for a reasonable fee, of course :-)
    • by 0123456 (636235)

      That's not a bad plan. NASA could send food and stuff and then the people on Mars could fill the rocket with rocks to send back. Could be the first example of interplanetary commerce.

      • by Synerg1y (2169962)

        Rather than bringing the materials here we could send the lab there... oh wait: that's exactly what we did with Curiosity!

        I'd also like a quote for how much it would cost to build a villa from this martian rock.

        • by Rockoon (1252108)
          How about the cost of building a ship that can escape not just one, but *two* gravity wells.

          Launching a ship with enough fuel to get there is already expensive as fuck... but to also carry the fuel needed to also launch the ship from there back to here..

          I'm thinking tens of billions of dollars easy... probably more in the range of hundreds of billions..
          • by aled (228417)

            We could instead send small robots that can build anything on site when arrive, even self replicate themselves. We would call them 'replicators'.
            What could go wrong?

            • by murdocj (543661)

              As long as they don't have any rocket templates to replicate we should be safe... oh... never mind.

          • by jkflying (2190798)

            If we were able to manufacture the rocket propellant in space, from say water from the moon and split into H/O using solar power, it wouldn't be quite as bad. After all, only a small fraction of the rocket weight is the actual rocket, most is the fuel.

    • by mark-t (151149)
      Yeah, because, you know... money is just going to be so useful on Mars,
      • Yeah, because, you know... money is just going to be so useful on Mars,

        Or, a Mars One ground-support fee ... The colonists will get supplies from Earth *and* money will probably still be useful Earth-side.

        [ I considered mentioning that the OP, but didn't think it *actually* necessary. Never over-estimate people on /. ... ]

  • Phobos? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Hentes (2461350) on Wednesday July 10, 2013 @06:40PM (#44244819)

    Bringing back material from Mars's moons may be an easier first step.

    • by dbIII (701233)
      Just landing on the things is going to be not much easier than hooking up with a comet. Digging holes without leaving the surface from recoil would be interesting, but doable if very little force is used. It's not hard kids - calculate how much acceleration you get from gravity on a moon of Mars.
    • by lxs (131946)

      Just be careful of the Leather Goddesses.

  • The Mars rocks will be brought back, at astronomical speeds, straight to the NASA budgeting subcommittee.

  • Good idea (Score:4, Funny)

    by Nidi62 (1525137) on Wednesday July 10, 2013 @07:01PM (#44245005)
    It's a shame, however, that the load of rocks on board will have to be removed so that Val Kilmer can make it safely off Mars so he can get some sweet, sweet Trinity action. And remember, never send any military surplus drones to Mars!
    • by aled (228417)

      And remember, never send any military surplus drones to Mars!

      Why not? they very safe. Just be sure to set the 'KILL' switch to 'false'... And hope the programmers read the DailyWTF [thedailywtf.com] site. Hope real hard.

      • by murdocj (543661)

        And reading today's news about the failure of Russia's Proton rocket, you have to hope the builders didn't put the KILL switch in upside down.

  • That sounds like a satisfying project...

  • Killer microbes (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Tablizer (95088)

    There is still risk of Martian microbes that Earth life has no immunity too. Sure, it's a very small chance, but one that has potentially apocalyptic consequences if it happens.

    Perhaps the samples should be baked at an intermediate station.

    • by jamstar7 (694492)

      There is still risk of Martian microbes that Earth life has no immunity too. Sure, it's a very small chance, but one that has potentially apocalyptic consequences if it happens.

      Perhaps the samples should be baked at an intermediate station.

      Naw, just build a sampling lab on the Moon and process them there. Hell, you could even teloperate it, it's only a 3 second lag, wouldn't even need to send any people up there, which would make the Congresscritters happy..

    • Re:Killer microbes (Score:5, Insightful)

      by able1234au (995975) on Wednesday July 10, 2013 @08:07PM (#44245533)

      Almost zero. Mars rocks have been hitting earth for some time and in any case microbes have to evolve to infect humans, it is not something likely to happen for a mars microbe. In any case they will use the same quarantine process they used for the moon rocks and in that case the microbes would have had to have been very hardy to survive vacuum and solar radiation, yet they still quarantined them. So you can be sure the risk is close to zero.

      On the other hand we have enough risks here on earth that we don't jump up and down enough about. Still, the power of the unknown risk freaks people out more.

    • There is a very, very slim chance that we may all be descendants of martian microbes. Mars would have cooled a lot earlier than earth, favorable conditions may have manifested earlier, and something could have evolved there and gotten stuck in a rock that was later ejected from mars by some collision and made its way to earth, ultimately landing in earths primordial soup and seeding the planet.

      Very slim chance, but I like the thought that we may all be martians.

    • by manu0601 (2221348)
      I am convinced there are microbes in Mars soil, but they are adapted to a very specific biotope, and are not likely to thrive at 37C, so there is no danger IMO. We already have the case of extermophiles on earth, able to live in almost boiling water, but unable to live in a human being.
      • by Tablizer (95088)

        But you are just speculating. I generally agree that there is "probably" no risk, but "probably" is not good enough in this case.

        • by manu0601 (2221348)

          True, but there are rational basis behind the speculation. Take earth's extremophiles that live in near boiling water. Their biological structures have evolved to stand the heat, but in a way that makes them unable to operate at room temperature. To give a broad idea, everything is so much hardened that it needs high temperature to be mobile.

          Then you can imagine an extremophile will adapt to live in your guts, lungs or skin, but the fact is that it will encounter many other microbes already adapted there, a

          • by Tablizer (95088)

            "Invasive" species from across continents often out-compete the native life because their predators have not fully adapted to them yet. Something similar may be at play with Mars microbes.

            And again, I agree you are probably right, but probably is not good enough in this case.

            • by manu0601 (2221348)

              There is a difference between moving across continents and planets : the invasive species find a biotope similar from one continent to the other, they do not have to adapt. The only barrier may be a predator. Moving across planets, microbes find a very different biotope to which they have to adapt.

  • Are they going to call the rover "Red"? I can hear all the school children singing "Red Rover, Red Rover, send Mars right over."
    • I can understand the thought processes that transpired here, but I can not conceive of that which brought you to take the fruit of such processes and publish it.
      • I get that I am an amazingly unfunny person with a sense of humor no one else shares. What I don't get, is why you needed to comment on it.
  • I will pay for a piece of Mars. Git'r Done.

  • in a future unmartianed mission.

  • by k6mfw (1182893) on Wednesday July 10, 2013 @08:25PM (#44245633)
    I prefer a mission to Europa that includes a submarine to go into the water below the ice to take pics of the little fishies (if any). Yes, Europa is ****far more difficult**** than Mars. But a Mars sample would be cool, will provide excellent comparison to Martian meteoroids from Antartica. Now if we can also send somebody beyond LEO, then we can say (in the words of one of controllers at Houston MOCR after Apollo 8 TLI), "Finally we get to go someplace!"
    • by tyrione (134248)

      I prefer a mission to Europa that includes a submarine to go into the water below the ice to take pics of the little fishies (if any). Yes, Europa is ****far more difficult**** than Mars. But a Mars sample would be cool, will provide excellent comparison to Martian meteoroids from Antartica. Now if we can also send somebody beyond LEO, then we can say (in the words of one of controllers at Houston MOCR after Apollo 8 TLI), "Finally we get to go someplace!"

      I prefer building a base on the Moon, then Mars and then we can jump to Europa.

    • by VanessaE (970834)

      You know perfectly well we're not permitted to land on Europa, or even to attempt it.

    • by T Murphy (1054674)
      I see this mission as a stepping stone. We've recently proven that Mars once had flowing water, so there could be a lot to learn if we can look into the planet's history. Mars has ice caps - I am curious what we could glean from ice cores (and core samples of Martian soil). Such samples would be much harder to extract and transport back to Earth, so retrieving rocks first would help us work towards that.
    • I prefer a mission to Europa that includes a submarine to go into the water below the ice to take pics of the little fishies (if any).

      Sounds like an indie movie [wikipedia.org] coming up. Preview looks pretty good, but the jiggly camera work may detract from the story. Not sure yet. Good trailer available online.

  • Is it just me or does this sound like the pitch for a really bad horror or end-of-days B movie? Who would be the key cast members? Sounds like a really, really bad idea. LOL.
  • I wonder if there'd be a profitable market for chunks of Mars. Perhaps it could help fund further exploration.

  • After a lunar rover in the late 2010s.

    China has had five manned space mission now. Even though they are doing things the US & Russia did in the mid 1970s, the are making about four years of progress for every two years of work. Their next space station circa 2015 will be larger than the largest Mir, but still smaller than the ISS. China has the advantage of current technology, $money$, and learning from the past.

    How many people watched their two week, three [wo]man space station mission lat mon

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