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Many sources (eg this one) show the Mars Sample Return Earth Return Orbiter with both ion and chemical propulsion, and also state that it will be launched on an Ariane 6, but I can't find a clear statement of how they are being used, and whether aero-braking, or aero-capture at Mars plays any role.

So my question is what, in terms of orbits and propulsion, is the mission profile? Specifically: what orbit will the Ariane 6 deliver it to? How will it enter Mars orbit? and low Mars orbit? how will it leave Mars? will it decelerate at all on return to near-Earth space, or is it on a direct entry trajectory?

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    $\begingroup$ If that little ball at the bottom of the image is the sample capsule from the surface, then you may have at least a partial answer to Will surface samples from Mars orbit it in a spherical capsule until captured? $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Jul 29 '20 at 12:29
  • $\begingroup$ I don't understand why they won't dock a spacecraft with a fueled upper stage in Earth orbit, so that enough mass can be landed on Mars to bring the sample back directly. Gambling the sample in a risky autonomous Mars orbit maneuver doesn't sound sane to me. $\endgroup$
    – LocalFluff
    Aug 11 '20 at 11:31
  • $\begingroup$ @LocalFluff I started trying to show that that would need a big complex liquid fueled rocket to launch from Mars with all the associated complications, but ended up asking space.stackexchange.com/questions/45972/… $\endgroup$ Aug 11 '20 at 12:02

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