S87-35313 (15 May 1987)--- This artist's rendering illustrates a Mars Sample Return mission under study at Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and the NASA Johnson Space Center (JSC). As currently envisioned, the spacecraft would be launched in the mid to late 1990's into Earth-orbit by a space shuttle, released from the shuttle's cargo bay and propelled toward Mars by an upper-stage engine. A lander (left background) would separate from an orbiting vehicle (upper right) and descend to the planet's surface. The lander's payload would include a robotic rover (foreground), which would spend a year moving about the Martian terrain collecting scientifically significant rock and soil samples. The rover would then return to the lander and transfer its samples to a small rocket that would carry them into orbit and rendezvous with the Orbiter for a return to Earth. As depicted here the rover consists of three two-wheeled cabs, and is fitted with a stereo camera vision system and tool-equipped arms for sample collection. The Mars Sample Return studies are funded by NASA's Office of Space Science and Applications.
S89-36210 --- Using an aerobraking technique, the one of the two lander transport vehicles slows down and glides into Mars's orbit. One vehicle will carry a surface rover and lander, while the other will the ascent vehicle and lander. A number of concepts are under study for a Mars sample return mission.
S95-01418 (February 1995) --- This is an artist's concept of possible exploration programs. Long after the Mars sample return rover has fulfilled its mission requirements, two explorers replace the robot's worn wheel motors. The refurbished machine, instead of operating autonomously, can be teleoperated by orbital or surface controllers. Artwork done for NASA by Pat Rawlings, of SAIC.
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