NASA wants to bring Mars samples by the end of this decade
NASA wants to make history very ambitiously: to bring samples from Mars to be studied on Earth. For that, the space agency approved the “Phase A” of the Mars Sample Return mission. The idea is to send a robotic team to the red planet in the second half of this decade to collect soil samples.
The first part of the mission is already on its way to Mars: the Perseverance rover has a drill on the end of a robotic arm to collect rock samples and seal them in airtight tubes. It is scheduled to land on the planet in February 2021.
The next steps are the development of the Sample Retrieval Lander, which will land on the planet to collect the samples, and the Earth Return Orbiter, which will bring them here. The Sample Retrieval Lander will have two parts: the Sample Fetch Rover, a vehicle that will drive to the location of the samples and collect them, and the Mars Ascent Vehicle, a rocket that will take off to Mars orbit.
When he gets there, he will meet the Earth Return Orbiter. It is this module that will capture the samples from the red planet and bring them to Earth. The expectation is that all this will happen until the beginning of the 2030s.