ESA has awarded a contract to Airbus Defence and Space to go ahead on the next phase to develop the advanced Sample Fetch Rover. The Advanced B2 study contract will allow Airbus in Stevenage, UK to continue work on the rover that will collect Martian rock and soil samples for return to Earth.
Currently, NASA is preparing to launch the space agency’s Perseverance Mars rover, which is scheduled to lift off from Cape Canaveral on July 20, 2020 atop an Atlas V rocket. Building on the success of the Curiosity rover mission, Perseverance will be the first mission to directly look for signs of current or past life on the Red Planet since the Viking missions that landed in 1976.
In addition, Perseverance will be the first mission ever to collect samples for return to Earth for proper examination. However, the rover won’t be doing the return bit itself. Instead, it will seal drill samples in special metal tubes, which it will leave behind itself rather like Hansel and Gretel without the gingerbread house business.