Airbus designs Mars rover that will take back collected soil samples

The European Space Agency has awarded Airbus a €4.4 billion contract to build a Mars rover that will pick up soil samples collected and left behind during NASA’s Mars 2020 mission by 2026 at the earliest.

Airbus will design the Mars rover at its British factory in Stevenage. According to Ben Boyes of Airbus, it is a relatively small rover of about 130 kg, but the demands placed on the device are high. For example, the rover has to cover great distances with a high degree of autonomy, whereby the routes to the left behind soil samples must be planned in advance every day. Airbus’ British team in Stevenage is also already responsible for the European and Russian ExoMars mission, which will see a Mars rover launch in July 2020 to search for signs of life on Mars from April 2021.

In April, NASA and ESA signed a letter of intent committing the organizations to return rocks and soil samples from Mars before the end of the next decade. The Mars 2020 mission is scheduled to launch sometime in 2020. The Mars rover used for this purpose is to collect samples and store them in storage tubes. These will be left behind and it will be the task of the new, yet to be designed Mars rover to pick up these samples with a robotic arm from 2026.

This European Mars rover will deliver the picked up samples, which can take up to 150 days to collect, to a US rocket that will carry the payload from Mars into space, where a European spacecraft is waiting to return the samples to Earth. bring. The rover will remain on the red planet after delivering the monsters to film the takeoff. The technology for this complex mission is still under development and the question of whether it is feasible has yet to be answered. As a result, there is a chance that the timeline will eventually be moved.

Airbus concept drawing of the rover that will collect the monsters on Mars.