80

The USSR flew three successful automated lunar sample return missions: Luna 16, Luna 20 and Luna 24. The probes landed on the Moon, collected samples, and started a small rocket with the samples back to Earth. The returned mass was very small (101 g, 30 g and 170 g, respectively).


55

The planned test was a centrifuge test. They were going to take the entry vehicle up past the 10-g mark and back down. According to the JPL Mission Manager, who was my boss at the time, the g-switch was supposed to come off the peg at 3 g's, saturate at 10 g's which told the deployment controller to enable the deployment sequence start (i.e., to "arm&...


40

In July 2005, the Deep Impact mission released an impactor that excavated a crater, estimated to be 100 meters wide and 30 meters deep, into comet Tempel 1.


36

There are multiple problems with this idea. The first and most obvious problem is that the sealed container which has a perfect vacuum inside (seller claims so at least) is not of much use until you can put something inside (experiment, material, ...). And when you do that, you unavoidably get some gas inside with it, which ruins your perfect vacuum. You ...


21

Earth Orbit Rendezvous is a method for applying brute force. Mars Orbit Rendezvous actually improves efficiency, potentially by a lot. A Mars sample return (or, for that matter, a straight-up crewed mission to Mars) needs to do the following in order: Launch from Earth (*) Get on transfer orbit to Mars (*) Land on Mars with an ascent vehicle ready Take ...


18

Here's how you can work it out. First, thrust in kilo-Newtons (kN) divided by mass in metric tons yields acceleration in meters-per-second-per-second. Divide by 10 to get acceleration in approximate Earth surface gravities (9.81 is the real factor). Dawn uses its thrusters only one at a time (they aren't pointed the same direction), and a single NSTAR ...


17

According to WP, at the upper end of Earth thermosphere -- that's LEO, somewhere above the orbit of ISS -- the pressure goes to around $1 \times 10^{-7}$ Pa. This level of vacuum is regularly achieved on Earth, with MBE chambers going down to around $1 \times 10^{-10}$ Pa. To get a better vacuum you'd need to get quite a bit farther from Earth. In any ...


17

A large amount of Moon samples has not been studied at all yet. Out of 9 sealed containers brought back to Earth in the Apollo program, 3 containers have never been opened. In early 2018, a group of scientists advocated opening one of these containers. From the opened containers, most of the samples haven't been studied extensively either. In total 83% of ...


12

You said it yourself when you mentioned weight. So far, we managed to soft land roughly two metric tons on Mars in one go, if we count both the Curiosity rover and its Sky Crane landing system (Curiosity itself is about one metric ton in mass, but both the rover and the Sky Crane actually achieved close to zero vertical velocity with respect to the martian ...


12

In this question I suggested, that, on the face of it, the SS520-5 sounding rocket could get about 5kg from the surface of Mars onto a trajectory to hit Earth. That rocket (a three stage solid fuel rocket) masses 2.6 tons at liftoff. Let's make the rather large assumption that I haven't missed any problems (someone has already suggested the cold as an issue)....


12

The given value (2kg) is approximate and won't be known exactly until the container is recovered. Knowing the typical composition (including density) of Moon rocks and the volume of the container, one can easily foresee the average mass of the samples, but the actual mass will depend on the local composition, granularity (amount of empty space between grains)...


11

There is a lot that the two missions you mentioned--Stardust and Hayabusa--have taught us about sample return. Sample Contamination: Serious measures were taken with Stardust to control for the possibility of sample contamination, but notable problems were still encountered: However, despite these precautions the Stardust spacecraft outgassing was ...


11

The non-comet runner up is probably the crater on the moon created by the impact of the Centaur upper stage from LCROSS. NASA estimated that at "approximately 28m (92 feet) in diameter by 5m (16 feet) deep".


10

Ice sublimates. So does rock. Yet the planet Mercury is still there. The reason Mercury still exists is because even though rock does indeed sublimate, the rate at which rock sublimates is extremely low, even at temperatures at the surface of Mercury. The same applies to water ice at the very low temperatures in those permanently shadowed craters on the ...


10

The sample return capsule is designed to keep its contents below 75 °C. It is a flight-proven design, reusing technology developed for the Stardust mission. The return capsule’s structure consists of a graphite-epoxy material covered with a Thermal Protection System making use of NASA’s PICA heat shield technology – Phenolic-Impregnated Carbon Ablator. PICA ...


10

First of all, there are many Lunar Meteorites that have been found, but I'm assuming you don't mean those. The first bits of the Apollo moon rocks to be touched were dust inadvertently touched by the 2 astronauts that landed on the Moon. All of them touched at least some dust samples on the return trip that were contained outside of the container. Some of it ...


10

Since the question is about terrestrial bodies, maybe the Deep Space 2 mission penetrating about 0.6 m (or 2 ft) into Mars was the deepest. At least that's what it was designed for, but we don't know if it reached that depth.


10

It's not. I worked on two incarnations of MSR, and conceived a third, two of which got a good way into development, but none made it to a launch pad. I can say that MSR would be a tremendous scientific advance in the exploration of Mars. However I cannot see how it would be a "civilization-level changing capability", unless the definition of civilization ...


10

This is the "Space Window" of the National Cathedral in Washington. Source: NASA The National Cathedral website identifies the rock as Piece 230 of Apollo 11 rock no. 10057, and further states that it was given by Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins on the 5 year anniversary of the first steps on the moon during Apollo 11. This NASA page ...


9

There have been several sample return missions: NASA mission Genesis collected samples of the solar wind comet Wild 2 was visited by NASA mission Stardust asteroid 25143 Itokawa was visited by JAXA spacecraft Hayabusa 2 more asteroid sample return missions are currently active: Hayabusa 2 was launched in 2014, Osiris-REX is being built. Plans for more ...


9

Luna 16 was the first successful robotic probe to return sample from an extraterrestrial location to Earth for analysis. It did not return the first sample, that was done by Apollo 11, but it was the first time humanity successfully sent a robot into space to do such a task. The illustration above and the text of the following were taken from multiple ...


8

Edit: on second thought, my initial answer wasn't very good. Here's another go with better sources. For the Mars 2020 rover, one of the science goals is to collect 20 samples. The rover has room to collect 31 samples. In the initial design, the rover was to carry all its samples on board throughout the mission. But then once the rover has collected 20 ...


8

The latency is killer, though -- 8 months to several years before mission controllers can analyze and respond to data they find. Curiosity's controllers are looking at the pictures it's sending, deciding which terrain features are interesting, and directing it to investigate, iteratively. A somewhat smarter autonomous rover with a rack of removable SSDs ...


8

Here's a quick comparison of the two missions. Differences to follow. OSIRIS-REx Name: Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security, Regolith Explorer Lead Institution(s): NASA (USA), University of Arizona Principle Investigator (PI): Dante Lauretta (University of Arizona) Target: 101955 Bennu Launch date: 8 September 2016 Return ...


8

Its still in active development. Two options for the sample return ascent vehicle are being worked, either a single-stage paraffin-MON hybrid vehicle or a two-stage solid fueled vehicle. No decision has been made yet on which will be selected (if the program continues at all, given Starship etc). Both options have similar mass, payload capacity, system ...


8

Those are tongs. The tongs consisted of a set of opposing spring-loaded fingers attached to a handle and were used for picking up samples. Postflight evaluation of Apollo missions 11, 12, and 14 indicated a need for increased length, larger jaws, and additional closing force. These changes were incorporated for Apollo missions 15 through 17. Also, to ...


7

Actually, Ice VII has been discovered in diamonds on Earth. The water is first trapped in the diamond as the latter is formed deep in the mantle. Then when the diamond cools at the surface its rigid lattice retains the high pressure in the interior enabling the water to reach a combination of temperature and pressure where it forms Ice VII. The presence ...


7

The only form of ice that we see naturally in bulk on Earth is Ice I, all within the sub-h variety. There's no place on Earth that gets cold enough for any other form--but that's not necessarily true for the rest of the solar system. Unfortunately for this question, there is nowhere in the solar system that we could ever find any type of ice that depends ...


7

We believe so, but a lot of work remains to test and qualify a design to assure containment. These papers outline the approach, which is a simple, extremely robust parachuteless entry vehicle design.


7

https://ru.wikipedia.org/wiki/%D0%9B%D1%83%D0%BD%D0%B0-24 "Общая глубина бурения составила 225 сантиметров." Translation: "Overall depth of drilling was 225 centimeters." That was Luna-24 in 1976, bringing back some Moon rocks. From Gunter's Space Page Luna Ye-8-5M (Luna 23, 24): Luna 24 was launched on 9 August 1976, entered lunar orbit on 14 August ...


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