Mars Samples May Come to Earth via NASA’s Deep Space Gateway
The post that NASA plans to build in the lunar orbit could serve as a stopping point for extraterrestrial samples aimed at Earth for analysis, officials said the agency.
This “space bridge” designed by the team, including NASA intends to operate in the 2020s, allow a variety of missions in space and Earth-Moon as a springboard to Mars. But it can also help ensure that land and rocks are collected on Mars and other celestial bodies on Earth, said NASA Chief Robert Lightfoot, Congress Thursday, June 8
“This is what we think,” Lightfoot said at a hearing with the Subcommittee on Trade, Justice and the Committee on Science of House Credits.
“It basically has a system that takes you from [the] Moon to Earth, so you have one that can go anywhere, and it becomes the axis to which you return,” Lightfoot said.
Sample return projects offer the opportunity to explore more extensively the extraterrestrial material that “standard” planetary missions allow. Robotic vehicles and Landers can accommodate a small number of on-board instruments, and it must be remotely controlled, which means there is a time lag.
NASA astronauts have managed to carry hundreds of pounds of lunar rock and soil during the Apollo era, and the study of this material in laboratories around the world continues to this day.
The agency is trying to extract extraterrestrial samples from other organisms. Last September, for example, NASA’s Osiris-Rex mission (abbreviation for “Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Safety, Regolith Explorer”) was released to the potentially dangerous asteroid Bennu.
If everything goes as planned, the probe reaches the width of Bennu 1,640 ft (500 meters) in 2018 and return a sample of space rock on Earth in 2023. This material will move directly into a specially designed capsule, distributor of The use of parachutes in the Utah desert.
And the NASA rover in March 2020 – to be launched in 2020, as its name suggests – cached samples of the red planet for future delivery to Earth. (The robot with six wheels also looks for life signs of Mars, the test gear that can generate oxygen from atmospheric carbon dioxide and other tasks).
Currently, there are no concrete plans for this material is at home, so a deep focus of the bridge could be a possibility for the samples of the month of March 2020.
The gateway will be much smaller than the 100 billion International Space Station; Core Outpost will be a habitat crew, a propulsion module and a lock, Lightfoot said. The deep gateway will be occupied intermittently, rather than continuous as the space station added.
“Imagine just like a node around the moon. You can go there, you can stop, you can tele-robotic operations to the moon,” Lightfoot said at Thursday’s hearing.
The gateway can also be connected to “the vehicle that is going to Mars, and can be used as a node in which it starts from there to out,” he added.
NASA intends to send astronauts to Mars in the 2030s. For this, the agency is developing a capsule called Orion and a huge rocket called the Space Launching System (SLS).
Orion has flown once, while traveling unscrewed in Earth’s orbit in December 2014. The SLS will be launched for the first time in 2019, on an exploration flight called Mission 1 (EM-1), which will send Orion unscrewing the Week trip around the moon – three.
The first Orion-SLS manned flight, Exploration Mission 2 (EM-2), is scheduled for 2023. If everything goes as planned, EM-2 will be unveiled the first part of the depth entry door, said Lightfoot.
“When we took the first crew, we would take the electric drive module in the safe when we go,” he said.