iMARS Phase 2

Haltigin, Timothy; Lange, Christian; Mugnuolo, Raffaele; Smith, Caroline; iMARS, Working Group (2018). iMARS Phase 2. Astrobiology, 18(S1), S1-S124. Mary Ann Liebert 10.1089/ast.2018.29027.mars

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The International Mars Exploration Working Group (IMEWG) was formed in 1993 to provide a forum for the international coordination of Mars exploration. In 2007, IMEWG chartered the international Mars Architec-ture for the Return of Samples Working Group (iMARS WG), which produced a Phase 1 report in 2008 (iMARS, 2008). In 2014, IMEWG chartered an iMARS Phase 2 Working Group, comprising two panels of experts: (i) Engineering and (ii) Science/Earth Operations. Th e iMARS Phase 2 WG was tasked to provide: • A status report on planning for a Mars Sample Return (MSR) campaign, building on missions and international developments achieved since the iMARS Phase 1 WG issued its report; and• Recommendations for progressing toward campaign implementation, including a proposed sample man-agement plan.Th is report presents the iMARS Phase 2 WG’s fi ndings. It details top-level campaign requirements that would meet stated science objectives and planetary protection constraints. It presents an updated reference MSR architecture, made of three fl ight elements and one ground element (termed the 3+1 architecture). It provides technical and programmatic justifi cations for this architecture and report also discusses alternatives to the ref-erence architecture. Th e WG also reports on the status of MSR technology developments conducted by several space agencies around the world, evidence of the willingness of major space stakeholders to invest in MSR implementation. Th is report elaborates on programmatic considerations relating to MSR, including campaign robustness, international coordination and decision-making, a provisional implementation timeline, and a pos-sible cost-sharing model. In this report, the WG presents:• A returned-sample management plan, including an organizational structure for an international Mars sample science institute that outlines roles and responsibilities of key members and describes sample return facility requirements;• A science implementation plan, covering preliminary sample examination fl ow, sample allocation pro-cess, and data policies; and• A Mars sample curation plan, including sample tracking and routing procedures, sample sterilization considerations, and long-term archiving recommendations.Th e WG’s key conclusions are that:• It is feasible to return scientifi cally selected samples from Mars in 2031/33 under the proposed mission architecture, technology development roadmap, and sample management plan. A successful campaign will depend on early and binding agreements for long-term commitments by participating organisations.• Returning samples from Mars will require a multidisciplinary approach. Scientifi c, safety and curatorial Executive Summary
S-2A Draft Mission Architecture and Science Management Plan for the Return Samples from MarsS-3Executive SummaryPhase 2 Report of the International Mars Architecture for the Return of Samples (iMARS) Working Groupaspects of the campaign must each be considered and integrated when developing mission architec-ture and sample management structure.• While the Mars exploration community has made progress in understanding planetary protection implications of MSR and associated technology developments, important requirements and protocols remain to be further developed.Th e WG’s key recommendations are that:• To advance development of MSR architecture, interested international partners must declare their interests, defi ne a cooperation framework, and determine their contributions.• An internationally-tasked and -accepted planetary protection protocol for MSR should be produced as soon as possible, as this protocol will have technical and programmatic implications for the mission architecture.• MSR campaign partners should establish an international MSR Science Institute as part of the campaign’s governance structure upon approval to return samples from Mars.• Two key MSR enabling technologies, the Mars ascent vehicle and sample containment (“break-the-chain-of-contact”), require further investments to proceed with development.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


08 Faculty of Science > Physics Institute > Space Research and Planetary Sciences
08 Faculty of Science > Physics Institute
08 Faculty of Science > Physics Institute > NCCR PlanetS


500 Science > 520 Astronomy
600 Technology > 620 Engineering




Mary Ann Liebert




Dora Ursula Zimmerer

Date Deposited:

04 May 2020 15:57

Last Modified:

23 Feb 2021 23:40

Publisher DOI:


Additional Information:

Nicolas Thomas is a member of the iMARS Working Group.




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