Ancient Mars geology sample will be returned to the Red Planet by NASA


EXCERPT: There’s nothing more frustrating than having to pick up someone else’s [700,000-year-old] discarded trash, so you can imagine the Natural History Museum in London’s fury at having to house a meteorite callously ditched on Earth by Mars for the past 20 years. To teach the Red Planet a lesson, and in an unprecedented intergalactic game of pass the parcel, the cosmic rock will be returned to Mars as part of the 2020 rover mission. The meteorite will be used to calibrate an instrument on the rover’s arm after which it will remain on its home turf.

This is the first time in history a museum has returned a meteorite sample to its point of origin for the sake of science, and, appropriately titled the Mars Sample Return, the mission is the most ambitious campaign since Apollo in terms of planetary exploration. The Mars 2020 rover, named Perseverance, will launch on July 30, and as well as returning the meteorite the campaign intends to select and retain samples of Martian rock to bring back to Earth on a future mission. The rock swapping just never ends.

The meteorite [...] was retrieved in Oman in 1999 and is needed to calibrate the Mars rover’s SHERLOC ... instrument so that it can effectively identify and collect rock and regolith samples for a possible return to Earth. ... the meteorite will be used as a testing material by SHERLOC to decipher the composition of rock samples and assess if they are worthy of a place on the return journey... (MORE - details)

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