Mars Sample Return Scientist Mark Sephton watches the NASA Perseverance rover touch down on the surface of Mars on 18 February 2021.
Mark, a professor of organic geochemistry at Imperial College London, has been selected as one of the few European scientists participating in NASA’s Mars 2020 science team. For the next few years, he will be involved in the selection of martian samples that will be stored on Mars and retrieved and returned to Earth in future missions.
The Mars Sample Return campaign, a joint endeavour between ESA and NASA, will see a European 'fetch' rover retrieve the samples and load them into a canister to be launched from the surface of Mars. ESA's Earth Return Orbiter will capture the canister and return it to Earth, where scientists will have the possibility to study the samples for years to come.
As this video shows, with modern technology you don’t have to be in the control room to feel just as much a part of such an exciting (and nerve-wracking) event!