Friday , June 14 2024
Breaking News

Facing financial pressure, Nasa calls for innovative proposals to bring Mars rocks back sooner, cheaper – Times of India


NEW DELHI: In response to budget cuts and escalating costs, Nasa is reevaluating its ambitious Mars sample return mission, aiming to develop a more feasible and cost-effective approach. The US space agency announced on Monday that it will issue a formal request for proposals to simplify the current project, which has been challenged by technical difficulties and financial overruns.
Nasa Administrator Bill Nelson highlighted the urgent need for innovation during a press conference, saying, “The bottom line is that $11 billion is too expensive, and a 2040 return date is too far away.” He emphasized the importance of finding affordable and timely solutions to bring back the rock samples collected by the Perseverance rover on Mars.
The rover, which landed at Mars’ Jezero Crater in 2021, has already collected 24 core samples. These samples are crucial for the search for signs of ancient life on Mars. The original plan, in partnership with the European Space Agency, involved sending a secondary robotic lander to retrieve these samples and launch them into orbit around Mars for a transfer back to Earth. However, an independent review last September criticized the mission for its “unrealistic budget and schedule expectations.”
Facing a reduced budget that prompted significant layoffs at Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which oversees the mission, Nelson is now soliciting fresh ideas from across Nasa centers and the aerospace industry. The goal is to ensure that some of the 30-plus expected samples are returned to Earth by the early 2030s for a budget not exceeding $7 billion.
Associate Administrator Nicky Fox underscored the technical challenge, saying, “We’ve never launched from another planet, and that’s actually what makes Mars sample return such a challenging and interesting mission.” She refrained from speculating on how many samples might eventually be returned under the revised plan.
This initiative comes as Nasa seeks to balance its budget while maintaining its scientific objectives, including missions to Venus and an exploration of Saturn’s moon, Titan. The revamped Mars sample return strategy is expected to be more distributed across the agency to foster a broader range of innovative solutions.
As Nasa works to redefine its approach, international competition looms, with China advancing towards its own Mars sample return mission by 2030, potentially positioning it as the first nation to achieve such a feat.
(With inputs from agencies)

Source link


Check Also

Power consumers likely to get relief in May electricity bills

[ad_1] A representational image of pylons and power lines. — AFP/File Power consumers are likely …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *