Inside Nasa's 'risky' plan to bring the first piece of Mars back to Earth as hunt for life continues | The Sun

NASA has revealed more about its plans to bring a piece of Mars back to Earth.

The US space agency posted on Instagram to explain how the first ever Martian sample should arrive on Earth in just over a decade.

Nasa wrote: "We're bringing a piece of Mars back to Earth.

"Our Perseverance rover is currently rolling through Jezero Crater, picking up samples from the Red Planet as it goes.

"Later this decade, we plan to collect the samples from Perseverance. (We're also sending along two Ingenuity-class helicopters for potential backup if needed.)"

The space agency went on to explain how the samples will be picked up by its Mars Ascent Vehicle.

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This vehicle will then take the precious cargo to the European Space Agencies Earth Return Orbiter.

Nasa hopes the samples would land back on Earth in 2033.

It sounds like a well-thought-out plan but does come with risks.

One of those risks is the possible issue of contaminating Earth with anything unknown in the Mars sample.

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If scientists do find life or evidence of ancient life on Mars, they need to make sure the Earth is safe when a sample of it is returned to our planet.

Nasa scientist Dr. Moogega Cooper previously explained to Talks at Google: "When you bring something back you don't want to bring something that may be harmful to humans.

"So we have to do the best job possible to make sure it's done right."

When it comes to protecting Earth from alien life, Cooper says: "We can only protect against life as we know it today.

"If we learn something else, we can modify that approach.

"It's similar with the Covid approach. You learn something new and you have to adjust it."

She added: "You just roll with the punches because you're scientists and so that's the same thing for Martian life.

"We only know life as we know it. So, we'll use the worst thing we can think of on our planet as the model for Martian life."

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However, there is also the possibility that the Mars samples will purely be rock and won't contain unknown microbes.

Fortunately, Nasa has over ten years to come up with a plan for when the samples do arrive.

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