Friday, January 27, 2006

Stardust Success Leads to Talk of More Sample Return Missions

MSNBC reports space scientists, so elated by the amount of material returned by the Stardust sample capsule, have already started whispering about future missions to return everything from pieces of local moons and planets to landing on more comets.

Scientists were unsure what to expect when they peered inside the hastily retrieved sample package, but they certainly did not expect to view the pieces of comet and interstellar material, yet that's what happened.
NASA scientists said the material recovered far "exceeded our expectations"; pieces of rocks and debris were clearly visible in the blocks of Aerogel used to collect samples from comet Wild-2.
(More about Aerogel here.)

NASA's Sample Collection for Investigation of Mars (SCIM) is one such proposed mission. There are many more missions in development.

It is widely believed the research value of any material returned from Mars (or any other planet for that matter) would likely far exceed the cost of the mission...

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