Help Shape the Future of Space Exploration

Join The Planetary Society Now  arrow.png

Join our eNewsletter for updates & action alerts

    Please leave this field empty

Ryan Anderson

Sample Return Cache on MSL Canceled!

Posted by Ryan Anderson

23-11-2008 18:35 CST

Topics: mission status, Mars, Curiosity (Mars Science Laboratory)

This article originally appeared on Ryan Anderson's "The Martian Chronicles" blog and is reposted here with permission.

I just heard, via this article at Universe Today, that the sample cache on MSL has been canceled. First, some background. The cache was supposed to be a way to collect samples which would be retrieved in a future sample return mission. Problem is, the cache was sort of slapped on the rover as an afterthought. From what I understand, it was poorly designed, could not hold many samples, and did little to prevent cross contamination between the samples. In other words, it was basically useless. It was pushed through by NASA's previous head of space sciences, who resigned earlier this year after an unpopular move to reduce funding for the Mars Rovers.

The real problem with the box wasn't that it was scientifically useless though. It was that having such a sample cache would change the mission, and might actually be detrimental. People would constantly be thinking about whether or not to pick up a sample, and there would be the concern that, if the rover drove into a difficult to access location, that it would compromise the ability of future missions to retrieve the cache.

So, I'm really happy that this thing has been removed. It was never part of the mission and was forced through by NASA management, rather than by the scientists involved in the mission. Sample return is a great idea, but it should not be an afterthought on a pre-existing mission.

See other posts from November 2008


Or read more blog entries about: mission status, Mars, Curiosity (Mars Science Laboratory)


Leave a Comment:

You must be logged in to submit a comment. Log in now.
Facebook Twitter Email RSS AddThis

Blog Search

Essential Advocacy

Our Advocacy Program provides each Society member a voice in the process.

Funding is critical. The more we have, the more effective we can be, translating into more missions, more science, and more exploration.


Featured Images

Color map of Pluto
Comparison of Schiaparelli and Opportunity landing locations
Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Context Camera image of Curiosity landing site
Schiaparelli landing site, after landing attempt
More Images

Featured Video

The Planetary Post - Star Trek 50th Anniversary

Watch Now

Space in Images

Pretty pictures and
awe-inspiring science.

See More

Join The Planetary Society

Let’s explore the cosmos together!

Become a Member

Connect With Us

Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and more…
Continue the conversation with our online community!