NASA is planning to launch a mission to bring Mars samples back in 2033.
The Mars Sample Return Program is nearing the completion of the conceptual design phase. It would use NASA’s Perseverance rover in the Red Planet’s Jezero Crater to help collect the samples.
The Sample Retrieval Lander would include two sample recovery helicopters. The planned launch date for the Earth Return Orbiter will be fall 2027. The sample retrieval lander is expected to launch in the summer of 2028.
“Bringing Mars samples to Earth would allow scientists across the world to examine the specimens using sophisticated instruments too large and too complex to send to Mars and would enable future generations to study them,” NASA said. “Curating the samples on Earth would also allow the science community to test new theories and models as they are developed, much as the Apollo samples returned from the Moon have done for decades.”
NASA said it is already in the process of deciding what to bring back. The Perseverance rover has collected 11 scientifically-compelling rock core samples and one atmospheric sample, NASA said.