The potential science and engineering value of samples delivered to Earth by Mars sample return

Beaty, D.W., Grady, M.M., McSween, H.Y., Sefton-Nash, E., Carrier, B.L., Altieri, F., Amelin, Y., Ammannito, E., Anand, M., Benning, L.G., Bishop, J.L., Borg, L.E., Boucher, D., Brucato, J.R., Busemann, H., Campbell, K.A., Czaja, A.D., Debaille, V., Des Marais, D.J., Dixon, M., Ehlmann, B.L., Farmer, J.D., Fernandez-Remolar, D.C., Filiberto, J., Fogarty, J., Glavin, D.P., Goreva, Y.S., Hallis, L.J., Harrington, A.D., Hausrath, E.M., Herd, C.D.K., Horgan, B., Humayun, M., Kleine, T., Kleinhenz, J., Mackelprang, R., Mangold, N., Mayhew, L.E., McCoy, J.T., McCubbin, F.M., McLennan, S.M., Moser, D.E., Moynier, F., Mustard, J.F., Niles, P.B., Ori, G.G., Raulin, F., Rettberg, P., Rucker, M.A., Schmitz, N., Schwenzer, S.P., Sephton, M.A., Shaheen, R., Sharp, Z.D., Shuster, D.L., Siljeström, S., Smith, C.L., Spry, J.A., Steele, A., Swindle, T.D., ten Kate, I.L., Tosca, N.J., Usui, T., Van Kranendonk, M.J., Wadhwa, M., Weiss, B.P., Werner, S.C., Westall, F., Wheeler, R.M., Zipfel, J. and Zorzano, M.P. (2019), The potential science and engineering value of samples delivered to Earth by Mars sample return. Meteorit Planet Sci, 54: S3-S152.

Return of samples from the surface of Mars has been a goal of the international Mars science community for many years. Affirmation by NASA and ESA of the importance of Mars exploration led the agencies to establish the international MSR Objectives and Samples Team (iMOST). The purpose of the team is to re-evaluate and update the sample-related science and engineering objectives of a Mars Sample Return (MSR) campaign. The iMOST team has also undertaken to define the measurements and the types of samples that can best address the objectives.

Seven objectives have been defined for MSR, traceable through two decades of previously published international priorities. The first two objectives are further divided into sub-objectives. Within the main part of the report, the importance to science and/or engineering of each objective is described, critical measurements that would address the objectives are specified, and the kinds of samples that would be most likely to carry key information are identified. These seven objectives provide a framework for demonstrating how the first set of returned Martian samples would impact future Martian science and exploration. They also have implications for how analogous investigations might be conducted for samples returned by future missions from other solar system bodies, especially those that may harbor biologically relevant or sensitive material, such as Ocean Worlds (Europa, Enceladus, Titan) and others.

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