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Final Report of the Mars Sample Return Science Planning Group 2 (MSPG2).

  • Meyer, Michael A1
  • Kminek, Gerhard2
  • Beaty, David W3
  • Carrier, Brandi L3
  • Haltigin, Timothy4
  • Hays, Lindsay E1
  • Agree, Carl B5
  • Busemann, Henner6
  • Cavalazzi, Barbara7
  • Cockell, Charles S8
  • Debaille, Vinciane9
  • Glavin, Daniel P10
  • Grady, Monica M11
  • Hauber, Ernst12
  • Hutzler, Aurore2
  • Marty, Bernard13
  • McCubbin, Francis M14
  • Pratt, Lisa M15
  • Regberg, Aaron B14
  • Smith, Alvin L3
  • And 11 more
  • 1 NASA Headquarters, Mars Sample Return Program, Washington, DC, USA.
  • 2 European Space Agency, Noordwijk, The Netherlands. , (Netherlands)
  • 3 Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California, USA.
  • 4 Canadian Space Agency, Saint-Hubert, Quebec, Canada. , (Canada)
  • 5 University of New Mexico, Institute of Meteoritics, Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA. , (Mexico)
  • 6 ETH Zürich, Institute of Geochemistry and Petrology, Zürich, Switzerland. , (Switzerland)
  • 7 Università di Bologna, Dipartimento di Scienze Biologiche, Geologiche e Ambientali, Bologna, Italy. , (Italy)
  • 8 University of Edinburgh, Centre for Astrobiology, School of Physics and Astronomy, Edinburgh, UK.
  • 9 Université Libre de Bruxelles, Bruxelles, Belgium. , (Belgium)
  • 10 NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Solar System Exploration Division, Greenbelt, Maryland, USA.
  • 11 The Open University, Milton Keynes, UK.
  • 12 German Aerospace Center (DLR), Institute of Planetary Research, Berlin, Germany. , (Germany)
  • 13 Université de Lorraine, CNRS, CRPG, Nancy, France. , (France)
  • 14 NASA Johnson Space Center, Astromaterials Research and Exploration Science Division, Houston, Texas, USA.
  • 15 Indiana University Bloomington, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Bloomington, Indiana, USA. , (India)
  • 16 Natural History Museum, Department of Earth Sciences, London, UK.
  • 17 University of Glasgow, School of Geographical and Earth Sciences, Glasgow, UK.
  • 18 Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA.
  • 19 University of Arizona, Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, Tucson, Arizona, USA.
  • 20 Royal Ontario Museum, Natural History, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. , (Canada)
  • 21 University of Cambridge, Department of Earth Sciences, Cambridge, UK.
  • 22 University of Nevada Las Vegas, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA.
  • 23 Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), Institute of Space and Astronautical Science (ISAS), Chofu, Tokyo, Japan. , (Japan)
  • 24 Michigan State University, Earth and Environmental Sciences, East Lansing, Michigan, USA.
  • 25 Smithsonian Institution, Department of Mineral Sciences, National Museum of Natural History, Washington, DC, USA.
  • 26 Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona, USA.
  • 27 Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), Centre de Biophysique Moléculaire, Orléans, France. , (France)
  • 28 Centro de Astrobiologia (CSIC-INTA), Torrejon de Ardoz, Spain. , (Spain)
  • 29 University of Aberdeen, Department of Planetary Sciences, School of Geosciences, King's College, Aberdeen, UK.
Published Article
Mary Ann Liebert
Publication Date
Jun 01, 2022
DOI: 10.1089/AST.2021.0121
PMID: 34904888


The Mars Sample Return (MSR) Campaign must meet a series of scientific and technical achievements to be successful. While the respective engineering responsibilities to retrieve the samples have been formalized through a Memorandum of Understanding between ESA and NASA, the roles and responsibilities of the scientific elements have yet to be fully defined. In April 2020, ESA and NASA jointly chartered the MSR Science Planning Group 2 (MSPG2) to build upon previous planning efforts in defining 1) an end-to-end MSR Science Program and 2) needed functionalities and design requirements for an MSR Sample Receiving Facility (SRF). The challenges for the first samples brought from another planet include not only maintaining and providing samples in pristine condition for study, but also maintaining biological containment until the samples meet sample safety criteria for distribution outside of biocontainment. The MSPG2 produced six reports outlining 66 findings. Abbreviated versions of the five additional high-level MSPG2 summary findings are: Summary-1. A long-term NASA/ESA MSR Science Program, along with the necessary funding and human resources, will be required to accomplish the end-to-end scientific objectives of MSR. Summary-2. MSR curation would need to be done concurrently with Biosafety Level-4 containment. This would lead to complex first-of-a-kind curation implementations and require further technology development. Summary-3. Most aspects of MSR sample science could, and should, be performed on samples deemed safe in laboratories outside of the SRF. However, other aspects of MSR sample science are both time-sensitive and sterilization-sensitive and would need to be carried out in the SRF. Summary-4. To meet the unique science, curation, and planetary protection needs of MSR, substantial analytical and sample management capabilities would be required in an SRF. Summary-5. Because of the long lead-time for SRF design, construction, and certification, it is important that preparations begin immediately, even if there is delay in the return of samples.

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