A scoop and scramble Mars sample return mission has long been sought by the scientific community.
CREDIT: Wickman Spacecraft & Propulsion

Future Mars Missions: Can Humans Trump Robots?

by Leonard David, Space Insider Columnist
Date: 02 November 2012 Time: 07:01 AM ET

For decades scientists have backed the idea of sending robots to collect Martian rocks and return them to Earth, a project that should be possible well before humans crunch their boots into the distant dunes of the Red Planet.

The idea of landing, scooping up, and hauling back to our world specimens from that intriguing globe has long been endorsed as the Holy Grail of precursor missions by Mars exploration planners.

This view was echoed in late September by a summary report from NASA’s Mars Program Planning Group (MPPG). Former NASA program manager Orlando Figueroa chaired the blue-ribbon team of MPPG members that were tasked to reformulate the agency’s Mars Exploration Program.

Yet other experts question whether robots should do a job that might be better suited for human astronauts.

Read more: Future Mars Missions: Can Humans Trump Robots? | Mars Sample Return | Space.

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