Published: Wed, July 11, 2018
Science | By

Airbus tapped to design Fetch Mars rover

Airbus tapped to design Fetch Mars rover

ESA has now awarded the initial £3.9 million (US$5.2 million) contract to design the new Fetch rover to Airbus, which will undertake the study in Stevenage, England. While the 2020 rover design is based on Curiosity, it will collect and deposit samples for the Fetch Rover to retrieve and bring back to Earth, rather than conduct onboard analysis as Curiosity does.

The feasibility team at Airbus for this project mentions that it's going to be a relatively small rover that weighs around 130kg but will have to put up with demanding requirements which include covering large distances "using a high degree of autonomy, planning its own path ahead day after day".

In 2026, the recovery mission will be launched by Nasa and land a rocket on Mars carrying the Fetch rover.

"Accomplishments in robotic exploration in recent years have increased confidence in success - multiple launches will be necessary to deliver samples from Mars". The tubes will be handed off to the rocket which will then blast off and hopefully make its way back to Earth. The Mars 2020 rover will reach the Red Planet in 2020. The goal of the container is to make sure that the samples not only survive, but that the samples will neither be contaminated by Earth microbes or the Earth by any microbes it might contain.

Ben Boyes, Project Manager by Airbus for the Sample Fetch Rover study, said: "With the combined expertise of ESA and NASA, this landmark mission is ambitious and technologically very advanced, with two rovers interacting together on Mars for the first time".

"Bringing samples back from Mars is essential in more than one way".

The brief came from the European Space Agency (ESA), with the aim of collecting and transporting soil samples left by the planned 2020 Mars rover - also now in construction between ESA and Airbus. "The close collaboration between the United Kingdom and ESA will place Britain at the forefront of innovative missions to explore the Moon, Mars and beyond", said Peake.

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