A sample from Mars? A topic for discussion at the Meteoritical Society Meeting in Rome
3 September 2001By studying lunar samples meteoriticists have contributed hugely to our understanding of the Moon. A sample-return mission to Mars would provide the community with a rich resource with which to investigate our nearest neighbour.But when will there be a such a mission? A meeting to be held in Rome will provide the meteoritical community with an opportunity to express their interest in a sample-return mission to Mars.
During the next few years our closest neighbour, Mars, will be scrutinized by an extensive suite of instruments covering a broad range of experiments from remote-sensing observations to in-situ measurements. The only aspect not yet confirmed is a sample-return mission - an experiment to transport a pristine piece of the Red Planet back to Earth.
A splinter meeting, sponsored by the European Space Agency, will be held at the 64th Annual Meeting of the Meteoritical Society* in Rome (10-14 September) to discuss the possible role of the meteoritics community in a sample-return mission. Meteoriticists have already made important contributions to our understanding of the Moon through the Apollo programme. The scientific and technical knowledge gained from this and similar experiences could be usefully employed in a sample-return mission to Mars.
For further background on this meeting, see also the open invitation issued by the meeting organiser, Colin Pillinger.
(*)The Meteoritical Society is an international non-profit organization devoted to the study of meteorites and other samples of extraterrestrial matter and their relation to the origin and history of the Solar System.