Airbus has awarded Maxar Technologies‘ MDA business a contract to design subsystems for a rover NASA and the European Space Agency plan to use in a joint mission to collect and return samples from Mars to Earth.
MDA will aim to develop mobility and sample acquisition systems for potential integration into a “Sample Fetch Rover” that would support the 2020-2030 Mars Sample Return campaign, Maxar said Tuesday.
ESA tapped Airbus in May to conduct design studies as part of the international project.
The mission will cover three deployments to land the rover on Mars’ surface as well as find, gather store and return samples.
The initial phase will employ a NASA 2020 robotic vehicle to record and place collected samples in canisters and the second phase will leverage a Sample Return Lander to deploy a platform that will carry the fetch rover.
A Mars Ascent Vehicle will pick both the lander platform and the fetch rover after the sample retrieval process and will take off from Mars to join with the ESA’s Earth Return Orbiter spacecraft as part of the mission’s final phase.
MDA previously built a communication antenna subsystem for the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter, a light detection and ranging technology for the Mars Phoenix Mission and an X-ray spectrometer instrument for the Mars Science Laboratory Mission.