Airbus and the European Space Agency, ESA, will carry out a very important part of the mission that NASA has entrusted to it with the Perseverance rover. They will have to build the first spacecraft that will transport Martian soil samples back to Earth.
Not only do we need ships to transport us to space and allow us to visit other planets, we also need to have ships that carry cargo back to Earth and bring us things from those neighboring planets that we are exploring.
As NASA sends Mars to the Perseverance rover, the Europeans complete the other part of the mission. This rover will take care of collect rocks and other materials from the red planet so we can examine them once back home. But the transport of those rocks back to our planet will take care ESA and the ship that ordered Airbus.
More specifically, the task in charge of this task is the division of Airbus-France, which has been in charge of building the ANALIS-II satellite for South Korea. Airbus is going to be in charge of shaping what will be the first interplanetary cargo ship in the history of humanity, which has been named “Return Earth Orbiter “(ERO), which will launch towards Mars sometime in 2026.
Ero will be a huge satellite 6.5 tons which will use a mixture of chemical and electrical propulsion to reach Mars and orbit the planet. With huge wings covered by solar panels it reaches a wingspan of 39 meters. These panels will allow you to make the entire outward and return journey.
Its mission, although it seems simple, is most complex. Must go to Mars, orbit the planet collect samples taken by the rover Perseverance and then go back to Earth. “This is not only twice as difficult as any typical Mars mission; is twice squared, when you think about the complexity involved“explains Dr. David Parker, director of robotics and human exploration at ESA (European Space Agency), to the BBC.
The load is not a small thing either, this satellite must collect 36 containers with samples that the rover has been accumulating, the containers are the size of a soccer ball. But there is still an even more complicated step, the rover will leave the containers in the lander, in a vehicle that will ascend and go into orbit to meet ESA’s satellite.
For that, it is still necessary for NASA to place a rocket on the surface of Mars throughout this decade to collaborate in the recovery of those Martian samples. So far everything we know has not been established at the moment deadline for the ERO with the samples to return to our planetBut international cooperation to bring this mission to fruition is already a success.