DAVID DUCROS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY DAVID DUCROS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Mars Sample Return orbiter. Computer artwork of the Mars Sample Return orbiter collecting a sample container from Mars orbit. This CNES (French) orbiter is planned for a 2007 launch. It will enter orbit with an aerocapture manoeuvre, braking using the Martian atmosphere. Once in orbit, it will find and collect samples contained in a 3.6 kilogramme metallic ball (centre right). This will have been injected into orbit by an earlier Mars lander. The orbiter will locate the container with optical and radio methods, and return it to Earth for analysis. As part of its mission, the orbiter will also deploy four NetLander probes to land on, and investigate, widely separated areas of Mars.
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