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NASA needs a cheaper, faster way to bring Mars dirt back to Earth

Image from NASA’s Mars Perseverance rover captured in April 2024. | NASA

Budget constraints have NASA looking for a faster and cheaper method to bring samples from Mars’ surface back to Earth. In a teleconference on Monday, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said that an independent review concluded that the agency’s current plan to bring the first samples collected by the Mars rover Perseverance could cost up to $11 billion and would likely not be achievable until 2040. The fiscal 2025 budget for the space agency, as well as additional anticipated budget cuts, are behind how slowly the current plan is being executed.

“That is unacceptable to wait that long,” Nelson said about the mission to return samples of dust and rocks from Mars to Earth. “It’s the decade of the 2040s that we’re going to be landing…

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