WASHINGTON, D.C. - Scientists will have to wait more than a decade before samples taken by the Mars rover Perseverance are transported to Earth and examined to learn more about the composition of the Red Planet.
Details emerged about the plan from NASA’s recent budget request of $26 billion for 2023.
The agency planned to keep the hermetically sealed tubes in an area of the Martian planet that a lander could easily access in 2028 and return to Earth two years later, but the agency said to increase the probability of success with the mission, it’ll need a few more years to plan and execute what experts envision.
"The development of a second lander necessitates a move to a 2028 launch date and 2033 sample return date," NASA stated in the request.
NASA is working with their counterparts at the European Space Agency to develop two landers, one of which will be designated to collect the tubes from Mars’ surface.
The agency stated the retrieval program would be "one of the most technically difficult and operationally demanding robotic space missions ever undertaken."
In addition to the difficulties, the retrieval mission won’t be cheap.
The most recent budget request shows the agency needs $822 million for the project in 2023 with future requests expected to total more than $2.7 billion during the next few years.