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Saturday, March 15, 2003

Martian Sample Return Mission - From the Moon?

Last Apollo mission (17) landing site.
Last Apollo mission (17) landing site.
New computer simulations show that the easiest way to get rocks from Mars may not be to go to Mars after all. Researchers in the University of Washington and Iowa State have found that it is likely that there are as many as 180 kg of Martian rock for every 10 km x 10 km area of lunar regolith in some parts of the moon.

This has important implications for finding life on Mars. If the rock samples came from a period in time where life flourished on Mars, we would be much more likely to find it on the moon, where there are no processes to weather down or contaminate the sample, and no indigenous life to cause false results. In addition, it is cheaper to go to the moon than it is to cross the large distance to Mars -- and we have proven our ability many times to go to the moon.

On the other hand, it may be difficult to tell which ones are Martian and which one come from other sources. The surface of the moon has debris from the entire solar system, all mixed together.

(More info: Astrobiology Magazine Website)

- posted by Brian @ 11:36 EST