loading page

MSR Science Planning Group 2 (MSPG2): Planning for the curation of MSR samples in a Sample Receiving Facility
  • +8
  • Kim Tait,
  • Francis McCubbin,
  • Caroline Smith,
  • Carl Agee,
  • David Beaty,
  • Henner Busemann,
  • Brandi Carrier,
  • Barbara Cavalazzi,
  • Vinciane Debaille,
  • Aurore Hutzler,
  • Tomohiro Usui
Kim Tait
Royal Ontario Museum

Corresponding Author:ktait@rom.on.ca

Author Profile
Francis McCubbin
NASA Johnson Space Center
Author Profile
Caroline Smith
Natural History Museum
Author Profile
Carl Agee
Univ New Mexico
Author Profile
David Beaty
Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Author Profile
Henner Busemann
ETH Zurich
Author Profile
Brandi Carrier
Jet Propulsion Laboratory/California Institute of Technology
Author Profile
Barbara Cavalazzi
Università di Bologna
Author Profile
Vinciane Debaille
Université Libre de Bruxelles
Author Profile
Aurore Hutzler
European Space Agency
Author Profile
Tomohiro Usui
JAXA Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency
Author Profile


All material that is collected from Mars (gases, dust, rock, regolith) will need to be carefully handled, stored, and analyzed following Earth return to minimize the alteration or contamination that could occur, and to maximize the scientific information that can be extracted from the samples, now and into the future. A Sample Receiving Facility (SRF) would be where the Earth Entry System is opened, and the sample tubes opened and processed after they land on Earth. The Mars Sample Return (MSR) Science Planning Group Phase 2 (MSPG2) was tasked with identifying the steps that encompass the curation activities that would happen within an MSR SRF and any anticipated curation-related requirements. To make the samples accessible for scientific investigation, a series of observations and preliminary analytical measurements would need to be completed to produce a sample catalog for the scientific community. The sample catalog would provide data to make informed requests for samples for scientific investigations and for the approval of allocations of appropriate samples to satisfy these requests. The catalog would include data and information generated during all phases of activity, including data derived from the landed Mars 2020 mission, during sample retrieval and transport to Earth, and upon receipt within the SRF, as well as through the initial sample characterization process, sterilization- and time-sensitive and science investigations. The Initial sample characterization process can be divided into three phases, with increasing complexity and invasiveness: Pre-Basic Characterization (Pre-BC), Basic Characterization (BC), and Preliminary Examination (PE). A significant portion of the Curation Focus Group’s efforts was determining which analyzes and thus instrumentation would be required to produce the sample catalog and how and when certain instrumentation should be used. The goal is to provide enough information for the PIs to request material for their studies but to avoid doing targeted scientific research better left to peer-reviewed competitive processes. Disclaimer: The decision to implement Mars Sample Return will not be finalized until NASA’s completion of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process. This document is being made available for planning and information purposes only.