Ep. 707: What Goes Into Sample Return Missions for the Moon and Mars?

We’ve sent robots to other worlds, but the amount of science we can deploy to another planet can’t compare with the vast science labs we have on Earth. That’s why more and more missions are for a sample return, bringing pieces of alien worlds back to Earth, were we study them with proper equipment.


(This is an automatically generated transcript)

Fraser Cain [00:01:34] Astronomy cast. Episode 707 what goes into sample return missions for the Moon and Mars? Welcome to Astronomy Cast for weekly facts based journey through the cosmos, where we help you understand not only what we know about how we know what we know. I’m Fraser Cain, I’m the publisher of Universe Today. With me, as always, is Dr. Pamela Gay, a senior scientist for the Planetary Science Institute and the director of Cosmic Quest. Hey, pal, how you doing? 

Pamela Gay [00:01:58] I am doing well, I. I feel like we made it through Groundhog Day. And signs of spring are coming. The first bulbs have come up. 

Fraser Cain [00:02:09] Yep. 

Pamela Gay [00:02:10] It is all very exciting. We have made it through another winter. Except you have an atmospheric river. 

Fraser Cain [00:02:16] Sort of. I don’t I don’t know the the folks in California do. We’re fine. It’s kind of cold and clear right now. It’s nice. Sunny. But so on that note, there’s, and I forget the exact sort of this allergy of this, but in Japan, they have more seasons. They don’t just have, you know, spring, summer, fall, winter. I mean, they have those, but they also have named a bunch of other seasons. And like Cherry Blossom, when the, you know, the time when you see the cherry blossoms and the time when you see the first ice on the lake and, and it’s very sort of evocative of these things that happen on a yearly basis. And so my wife and I have started to note those seasons as well. So first crocus, yes, ducks arrive on our pond. First frogs, first time we hear frogs, first time we see newts in our ponds, first dragonfly, first tulip, first crocus. And it breaks up all the pieces of the. Yeah. And it’s in it’s amazing. And so right now I’m sort of looking at the calendar and first crocus day is coming. And then truly after that comes first, I don’t know, Daffodil Day and then and then swallows then. 

Pamela Gay [00:03:25] Right. Right. 

Fraser Cain [00:03:26] And it’s and it’s sort of need to think about just these cycles as we move through the planet. There’s not just these, there are these smaller things. 

Pamela Gay [00:03:35] First Robin of the year. That’s. Yeah, I always notice. 

Fraser Cain [00:03:39] Or the or like in March here we get weird fluffy clouds that show up and they only show up in March. And then like before that it’s drizzly, overcast. And then after that, it’s generally clear skies with the occasional fluffy cloud. But but in March, we get what I call interesting clouds, right? That are like big weird. You would think they’re like cumulonimbus clouds, but they’re not. And they’re just so cool that we get them in March, right? And then we get them in October. And and so you see that and you’re like progress and so and so this just reminded me. So you were talking about Groundhog Day. Yeah. So we have the the first insect that we see that isn’t just like flies and things like that. Yeah. Are these things called stone flies. And so Carl and I decided that that stone flies are our groundhogs. So the so the first time we see a stone fly, the question is, are we seeing that stone fly in the sun, which we were. So I think it’s bad news, right? The stone fly. The stone fly saw a shadow and that’s bad news. 

Pamela Gay [00:04:40] I can’t help you with any of these things. What I can tell you is I am on the northern edge of where two different cicada broods are supposed to hatch this summer. Yeah, and it’s a bit terrifying. It’s going to be loud. Yeah, yeah. Like cicadas are already loud without any of the special broods. Because there are always cicadas. There’s always cicadas. But when you get a brood, they’re suddenly like. They’re getting into your house. There’s so many. 

Fraser Cain [00:05:11] I do hope you recorded this. Sounds great. 

Pamela Gay [00:05:14] Yeah, yeah. 

Fraser Cain [00:05:16] All right. We’ve sent robots to other worlds. But the amount of science that we can deploy to the surface of another planet can’t compare with the vast science labs we have on Earth. That’s why more and more missions are for a sample return, bringing pieces of alien worlds back to Earth where we study them with the proper equipment. Sample return. So what’s the original sample return mission? 

Pamela Gay [00:05:39] The Soviet sample returns to the moon. They brought back pounds and pounds and pounds and pounds of rocks over a number of missions. 

Fraser Cain [00:05:49] Wow. 

Pamela Gay [00:05:49] Their most recent lunar mission failed miserably. Crashed into the surface of the moon, as the moon has been expecting robots to do lately. 

Fraser Cain [00:05:57] Yeah. Moon is hungry. 

Pamela Gay [00:05:58] He was very, very hungry at the moment. But in the past, the the Soviet Union didn’t focus once they saw what Apollo was doing. And once they saw what the world was doing, they focused on over a number of years, continuing to do sample return missions from a variety of different places. And the thing about going to the moon is. It doesn’t require a whole lot of technology as long as you’re on the near side. You have to get there. You have to fling yourself back off of the surface with with enough delta V to escape the moon’s very weak gravity. So that’s not that hard in the grand scheme of things. And then you need just enough fuel to make the needed orbital insertions to get back to Earth, which in the grand scheme of the universe is really nearby and doesn’t require a huge amount of delta v. You just kind of fall. 

Fraser Cain [00:06:59] And then you use the Earth’s atmosphere as a for a break. 

Pamela Gay [00:07:03] Yeah. Yeah. So so they’ve got, they got as the Soviet Union, which no longer exists, got really good at it. And then folks forgot how to return samples from large spheres for a few decades. 

Fraser Cain [00:07:23] But I mean, don’t the Apollo missions count? Well, I mean, they use I mean, they sent very complicated crew meat robots. 

Pamela Gay [00:07:32] We didn’t know the surface. 

Fraser Cain [00:07:33] Of the. 

Pamela Gay [00:07:33] Moon. Robotic sample return. We just called it sample return. 

Fraser Cain [00:07:37] Sample return. And then they grabbed rocks with their meat grabbers. And then they put them into clippy things. They clippy things. They grab the the rocks with their clippy things, using their their meat actuators. And then they put them into what I’m going to call bags. And then they return to Earth and they pretend like the vast majority of the samples of the moon that we have on our hands now, just hundreds of kilograms of samples of moon came from the Apollo missions. 

Pamela Gay [00:08:10] Yeah. Let’s face it, when it comes to picking up rocks, human beings have been doing it since we started. It’s just what human beings do. We pick up rocks. 

Fraser Cain [00:08:22] Yeah. I mean, if every single listener to our podcast right now, today doesn’t have a car full of rocks that they picked up from all the times you’re out on a walk and you’re like, yeah, I like that rock. I will make it my own. Yeah. You know, I, I would be shocked. Like, we all love to grab rocks. 

Pamela Gay [00:08:43] I wouldn’t say a car full. I would say all of us have somewhere in our house and car and backpacks. 

Fraser Cain [00:08:53] There’s a pipe. 

Pamela Gay [00:08:54] On a sample of rocks. 

Fraser Cain [00:08:55] Yeah, yeah, yeah, there’s a pipeline. Like you’re out on a walk. You find a rock you put in your backpack, you notice your backpack too heavy. You transfer them to your car. You know, your car is getting a little cluttered by rocks. You put them into your house, and then and then eventually you realize your house going to company and you throw them out the back door and. 

Pamela Gay [00:09:10] See, I have fish tanks. And so every rock collect. That doesn’t appear to be something that will kill the fish when it dissolves in the water. It goes in a fish tank and it doesn’t go in a fish tank. It doesn’t get to stay. 

Fraser Cain [00:09:23] Right. So this is hike sample return. 

Pamela Gay [00:09:25] Yeah, yeah. It’s true. 

Fraser Cain [00:09:27] Yeah. All right, so the Apollo missions brought back tons. And and what I love about the Apollo missions is they right away cracked a bunch of them open, and we’re like, let’s see what’s inside. But also, they put a ton of them into cold storage and said, our science isn’t good enough yet, but it will be in the future. 

Pamela Gay [00:09:45] And and that’s one of the really cool things that has been happening with the Johnson, sample labs done at Johnson Space Flight Center. They have an amazing facility with the moral equivalent of fume hoods, where they keep these samples in nitrogen rich atmospheres. They deal with them with, with, like, you have to reach in with gloves or use tools and actuators, and they can move them around within all of this. But. They recognize at every stage. No, we don’t know everything right now. So just during the pandemic, they released a new I don’t know what the collective tranche tranche tranches a good word. Yeah. They released a new tranche of rocks that that a variety of researchers, some who’ve remembered and were in graduate school during the original Apollo missions and were particularly excited, they finally got the chance to do the things that technology didn’t allow them to do in the past. And the thing with images is we can keep all the images in the world on a hard drive in their original form and just reprocess them forever. It’s a nondestructive process, but when it comes to processing samples, you can only run a sample through a mass spec really once, because that mass spec is gonna take that sample apart. You can only. 

Fraser Cain [00:11:14] It’s a destructive process. 

Pamela Gay [00:11:16] Yeah. And even electron scanning microscopes, they often will put a layer of gold on top of the the sample to make sure that it is perfectly reflective and. All of these things prevent future study that researchers may want to do. 

Fraser Cain [00:11:36] So after the Apollo missions returned. I think the last people set foot on the moon in 1972. Yeah. It was a while before samples were returned from the moon again. When did that happen? Next. 

Pamela Gay [00:11:49] So Luna 24 and 76. So I’m a post Apollo baby, but I apparently still existed for the lunar missions or already existed for the lunar missions. So Luna 24, in August of 1976, was the last gathering of grams of material by a Soviet spacecraft that was returned to Earth for science. And then nothing. 

Fraser Cain [00:12:16] Right. 

Pamela Gay [00:12:17] A long time. 

Fraser Cain [00:12:19] And that’s interesting when you think about like, wow, the Americans were sending humans to the moon to collect those samples. The Soviet lunar program was ongoing throughout the entire process. Like there was one almost the the 20th, Luna 20 was in February 1972. 16th September 1970. So there were sample return missions happening at, at roughly the same time that the Americans were sending their sample return mission. I wonder, like in the grand scheme of things, was the Soviet method of having robots do it cheaper, more effective? Did you were you able to get the same amount of science? Because, I mean, with the Apollo missions, there were some really special rocks that came back from the moon, including ones that helped prove the the giant impact hypothesis of the formation of the moon. 

Pamela Gay [00:13:12] And there’s the much debated, is it isn’t it, a meteor rock that they brought back and. Astronauts are better at this obeying their masters right? 

Fraser Cain [00:13:26] Than robots. 

Pamela Gay [00:13:27] Right? And so. So there were cases of mission control being like, time to head back. Time. No serious dudes head home. Right. Show me one more rock. I shall get my more rock. 

Fraser Cain [00:13:40] Yeah, that’s funny, because they foolishly said a geologist on that mission. 

Pamela Gay [00:13:44] Right. 

Fraser Cain [00:13:45] I think he’s going to stop. Click. No, he is not. 

Pamela Gay [00:13:48] And and so the human beings with their meat actuators and I’m just going to be using that term from you forever now, they were capable of, of. Malicious compliance and complete lack of compliance in a way no robot ever achieved. Yeah, and so they were capable of different science. And the other thing that was happening was NASA Johnson. There was a lot of money sunk in to where they keep their samples and the facilities that they have. And the Soviet Union was kind of running down, and I haven’t been able to find good documentation on what their storage facility was like. And while we still see us collaborating, scientists are not just U.S. scientists, but scientists from nations that collaborate with NASA. Presenting new papers, new research on all of those lunar samples. You don’t see the same long term science coming out of the former Soviet Union. And all the nations that belong to the former Soviet Union. A whole lot of their science was coming from the Ukraine. And so I have to wonder, was part of the problem also, they just didn’t have the ground based facilities to support, and I’m not sure we can know at this point. I hate not knowing. 

Fraser Cain [00:15:20] Yeah. Yeah. So that break there was a giant break 1976. Until when that actually robots brought samples back from the moon. 

Pamela Gay [00:15:30] So we didn’t even like visit the moon until 1990. We didn’t even orbit the moon until 1994. And when it comes to bringing back a sample, we’re looking at 2020. There were humans born who had time to go to college and become researchers on this mission between the last sample return and the most recent. Yeah. 

Fraser Cain [00:15:54] Yeah. Well into their careers. Right. Like, like in their 40s from when they were born. Yeah. Yeah. That’s that’s a that’s a long time. 

Pamela Gay [00:16:05] Yeah. 

Fraser Cain [00:16:06] So tell me about the mission. What, what what did the Chinese do? 

Pamela Gay [00:16:09] So so the Chinese, what didn’t they do? I think that is the more fair question. They they have been with the Shanghai series testing all the technologies they need. So they started out by orbiting with Shanghai one. They did a soft landing with Shanghai three and four. With Shanghai five. They landed, they gathered up rocks, they brought them back. And now they’re getting ready to test in situ stuff and things. Utilization, resource utilization. 

Fraser Cain [00:16:49] Yeah. So you’ve got that’s Chong of five. And then Chong a six is due to launch just in 2024. And that’s going to be another sample return mission. And then you’ve got as you said, you’ve got the more sample return mission some more at least in-situ resource utilization work. And this is all like leading up to let’s send humans to the moon because the technology’s the same. Like you launch a rocket from Earth, it goes to the moon. We talked about this last week. It goes to the moon. It lands on the moon. It picks up stuff. It could be rocks. It could be astronauts. It then launches them back to Earth. They reenter the Earth’s atmosphere gently, safely recoverable. And you have and you have done the. It’s essentially the same mission, except instead of having a robotic lander, you send people instead of pick up rocks. You pick up people. I mean, with rocks, obviously rocks in their pockets, right? 

Pamela Gay [00:17:55] It’s what humans do. We’ve determined. Yeah. 

Fraser Cain [00:17:57] Yeah, exactly. So it’s kind of the same thing. All right. We’re going to shift now to Mars, which there are no samples returned from Mars. All right. Let’s talk about the ball. The plan to return samples from Mars. 

Pamela Gay [00:18:11] So there there is a bold plan and a less bold plan. So China has the less bold, more realistic plan. And I kind of feeling that they’re going to succeed. 

Fraser Cain [00:18:20] So let’s talk with the American Plan though. The American European collaboration. 

Pamela Gay [00:18:24] Yeah. The NASA, ESA bit a Jaxa plan. Is we we have perseverance rover, which has a whole bunch of sample containers. It’s roving up to rocks. It finds tasty taking a pair of samples. It is keeping one of the samples with it. And it is laying like nests of eggs, small caches of the backup samples as it travels. And the hope is that at some point in the future, a second mission is going to be able to. And on the surface of Mars, close enough to Percy or Percy will still have the capacity to rove up to this other thing and do a handover of the samples, and then launch and bring the samples back. Now there’s a number of problems that have to be solved. Problem one is we haven’t figured out a handover of sample tubes yet. So that one I that’s I see is easy to solve. I’m worried about that one. 

Fraser Cain [00:19:37] It sounds like an engineering challenge. Yeah, but doable. 

Pamela Gay [00:19:40] But but then there’s the issue of. So just how are we going to do the sample return getting it off the surface. There have been thoughts of straight launch from the surface back to Earth, which when you look at how like the Chinese mission most recently, it it went from the surface of the moon up to orbit, did a handover in orbit, Apollo style, and then sent the orbiter back to Earth. That makes sense. Mars is a whole lot more gravity. 

Fraser Cain [00:20:16] Right? Right. Have you had this or have you been seeing sort of like what the what the most current idea for this is. It’s to throw a rocket into the air. So the plan is, is that that would. 

Pamela Gay [00:20:29] Be not lot. Samia. 

Fraser Cain [00:20:31] Yeah. So the land with or with a with in a sense vehicle. And then it will retrieve the sample somehow and be put into the sample capsule for the, for the Ascension vehicle. And then it will catapulted into the air, into the Martian air, and then its motor will ignite, and then it will fly, fly up to orbit. And I think there’s there’s issues about it just taking off directly. You know, they’re worried about contaminate the capsule. Worried about the about the the landing environment. And so the plan is to just throw it in the air and then it will ignite and take off to fly up into space. 

Pamela Gay [00:21:08] Like a legit trebuchet launch like. 

Fraser Cain [00:21:11] A trebuchet. Yeah. They will catapult the rocket. I think it’s the term they’re using. They’ll catapult the rocket into the air and then it will take off. And obviously, you know, there’s timing. Like, what if it doesn’t start exactly right and it crashes. 

Pamela Gay [00:21:22] So is this related to how NASA recently began collaborating with one of the companies that, spins things around and then let’s go spin. Yeah. 

Fraser Cain [00:21:32] No, I don’t think so. No, I mean, it’s a different technology and and I and I don’t remember the exact justification for why. And I’ll now I’m going to rabbit hole into this. You know, why throw a rocket first. But there was like some reason why this was what you had to do. This was what made sense. And then the thing will fly to orbit, meet with a return vehicle. Yeah, like Apollo style. The return vehicle will will then make the journey back home. Then, you know, the sample will make it earth. But I think what’s what’s important about this is that, you know, perseverance will have spent the better part of probably five years just obsessing over these samples, that each one is incredible on its own, that this one came from a strata of sedimentary rock, and this one is a piece of sand in the outflow valley from an ancient river. And this is a pristine piece of the atmosphere, like, like. And when that sample capsule finally arrives and whatever, there’s like 36 samples inside of it. Each one is just the best of the best of the best that they could find to, to bring home. And so that would be so useful to scientists back on Earth that you have all these different samples. Let’s compare and contrast to what the Chinese are planning to do. 

Pamela Gay [00:22:52] Sorry, my brain is just so broken with the idea of eating things from the surface of Mars. 

Fraser Cain [00:23:01] I’ll see you just after after. 

Pamela Gay [00:23:03] We. 

Fraser Cain [00:23:04] Finish recording. Yeah. Yeah. So let’s talk. Let’s talk about. Let’s talk about the Chinese one. 

Pamela Gay [00:23:10] I have to admit, I know that you are an expert in China, and I’m not even going to attempt to explain it. I’m simply going to go, sir. I bow down before Your Excellency and ask you to explain the Chinese mission. 

Fraser Cain [00:23:24] Okay. So. So the mission is going to be called Tianwen three. And that is, they’re like their third, Tianwen mission. So the first one was the the rover, the Mars rover lander combo that recently died. Talon two is going to be a mission to an asteroid. And as it will be a sample return mission from, what’s it called? Key. It’s called 469216. Camera. All the. Although I have it. My Australian pronunciation. Yeah, it’s an asteroid. And those. So ten one three is going to be their sample return mission, probably due for launch in 2028. And it is going to be the much simpler version of this. It’s going to be we send a rocket to Mars. It lands on the surface of Mars. It has a lander. The lander has a shovel. The shovels, scoops up material, grabs rocks. It will probably have a rover that will pick up some additional material. It will probably have at least one helicopter, maybe two, that will fly out from the the lander pick up samples that seem interesting, but like you’re not drilling into the perfect rock. You know, you are just grabbing, the you know, it’s how we work, right? Can be filling its pockets with as much material as a can, and then it’s going to blast off from the surface of Mars and bring it back home. And the plan is, is that, you know, it’ll do this by 2028 and probably will have, you know, research scientists on Earth will have their hands on the samples within a couple of years of that, you know, 20, 31. And so we will have those first pieces of Mars. Now, the thing that we didn’t go into with the NASA mission is that there are problems there, big problems. 

Pamela Gay [00:25:12] So part of the problem is the collaborations keep falling apart, due to funding issues. 

Fraser Cain [00:25:19] So, yeah. 

Pamela Gay [00:25:21] Mars sample return is currently the giant vacuum cleaner of all budgetary budgeting of budgets at NASA. The second problem is that originally it was going to be the Mars 2020 mission, which got renamed perseverance. Little Percy, keep going. We’re sorry you lost your sister. Then there was the NASA sample retrieval lander mission that it’s unclear how that is getting reshaped with Mars sample return. And then there was supposed to be the European Earth Return orbiter mission. And Europe is like, we do not trust what you guys are doing at the moment and have other things to worry about. And so you go from having something that was planned in the 20 tens to the realities of our modern world in the mid 2020s, and it is not standing up to time, it is not standing up to budgets. And, some of our partners are far too engrossed in wars at the moment to even be part of this. And then you have Congress going, why are you spending all this money? 

Fraser Cain [00:26:35] Yeah, yeah. And like, like you, you said it’s the budget, this vacuum, the it is yet to vacuum up the budget, but it is fixing to as beautiful as you say. It is like estimated at $10 billion right now and will likely increase. And like $10 billion is a big amount of money to spend on getting a sample of the surface of Mars. And and that’s a that’s a tough pill to swallow. And when we think about how much delays James Webb caused, how much, how much, how many missions fell under the knife because of that budget overrun? Think about what happened even with the the the SLS constellation Artemis. Like, there’s a lot like we’re excited that the SLS exists and we’re excited about James Webb, but we’re sad about the missions that had to get canceled because of the the price that they had to be paid for this. And so. We want samples from the surface of Mars. 

Pamela Gay [00:27:39] We want Percy’s life to have more meaning. 

Fraser Cain [00:27:42] Yeah, yeah, but, well, I mean, it already has so much meaning. 

Pamela Gay [00:27:45] I said more meaning. 

Fraser Cain [00:27:46] More meaning. Yeah, but. But are we willing to lose all of those other planetary missions? And this is always the problem. Yes. We want those samples. Are we willing to pay the price? 

Pamela Gay [00:27:57] It’s already costing money in terms of every time there’s a change in plan, people have to shift what they’re doing. And the money that went into planning is wasted. It’s already spending money because of all the times people have to go to the Hill and testify, all the committee work that has to be done. All the scientists that propose. And then what happens? And so it has already wasted a lot of money before it has wasted true money. 

Fraser Cain [00:28:26] Yeah. 

Pamela Gay [00:28:26] And we want those rocks back. Please. Please. Yes. Can we have the rocks? 

Fraser Cain [00:28:32] Percy wants to give them to us. 

Pamela Gay [00:28:34] Yeah, yeah. And and so this is a super awkward situation. And. I just don’t know what’s going to end up happening. Yeah. And I and for all we know, it could be human beings that walk up to Percy someday in the future and go. Dear little robot, we’re glad for your effort. You saved us the walking. 

Fraser Cain [00:28:59] Yeah. Animal lover. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. You saved us the walking. You saved us a week or so of us walking along, drilling some holes, collecting some samples, bringing them home. Yeah. Yeah. 

Pamela Gay [00:29:11] I don’t know. 

Fraser Cain [00:29:12] I don’t know either. But we will update you when things change and when we know more rigid. But right now, I like it’s. I think it’s a done deal. The Chinese are going to retrieve a symbol for Mars first. Like, just count on this. Yeah, but that’s what happens next is there will be a sample from Mars that will be returned by a Chinese mission. Yeah. You know, you can you can decide whether that’s a great thing or whether that’s a thing that makes you sad or whatever, you know, will be that your own interpretation? I want rocks from Mars to come back to Earth. I’m stoked. 

Pamela Gay [00:29:45] And both Jaxa and Roscosmos both have plans in the wings. I kind of doubt Roscosmos has the budgetary means to do it at the moment. But Jaxa could be in there as well. Yeah. They have their mission to the moon. Let’s see what comes next. 

Fraser Cain [00:30:03] So, I mean, this isn’t the moon or Mars, but it’s close enough. Jaxa having a sample return mission from Phobos. Yeah. The Isro, the the Indians are planning a sample return mission from the moon. So you could see this capability just building out across many nations as as more and more people learn to do this kind of work. And so I’m really excited about the future of sample return. This is the new phase we are now in the phase of. Let’s bring pieces of the solar system back to Earth so we can study them in our labs. It’s a it’s a great time to be in space exploration. All right. Thanks, Pamela. 

Pamela Gay [00:30:43] Thank you, Fraser, and thank you so much to all of our patrons out there who make this show possible. Without you, we wouldn’t have people to edit us to make a sound good and post things to the web and everything else that has to happen in the background. This week, I would like to thank Sam Brooks and his mom, Shawn Mattes, that Nate Detweiler, Dean Kimberly Reich, Tim Gerrish, Jeff Wilson, Paul De Disney, Jesus Trina, Michelle Cullen, Philip Walker, Janelle Dwight, Ilk, Benjamin Davies, Brian Kilby, Steven. Coffey, Sydney. Walker, David Bogard, Justin S, Maxim Levitt, Hal McKinney, Ruben McCarthy, Bob. Ski, Frank. Stewart, Jordan. Turner, Paul. Esposito, Ron Thorson, Jason Kidd, doc. Dukes, Christian. Golding, Robert. Handle, time, Lord IRA, loneliness and cheeseburgers are a dangerous mix. Kudos or I agree or ma’am, I don’t know which. Daniel Donaldson, Jeff McDonald. Lee. Harborne. Conrad. Holling. Thomas. Zeta. Jarvis. Earl. Tushar. Nick. Kenny. Slug. Will. Hamilton, Sterling. Gray, Adam. Samson, Tor. Pearson. Mark. Schindler, Michael. Pro Shonda. Galactic president superstar. Max scoops a lot. Astro Bob John says, I love the diversity of your names. I hope that it implies a true diversity of humans listening around the world. As always, I apologize to what I have just done to your names. 

Fraser Cain [00:32:22] Thanks everyone. We’ll see you next week. 

Pamela Gay [00:32:24] Buh bye. Astronomy cast is a joint product of the Universe Today and the Planetary Science Institute. Astronomy cast is released under a Creative Commons Attribution license. So love it, share it, and remix it. But please credit it to our hosts, Fraser Cain and Doctor Pamela Gay. You can get more information on today’s show topic on our website. Astronomy. Cars.com. This episode was brought to you. Thanks to our generous patrons on Patreon. If you want to help keep the show going, please consider joining our community at Patreon.com Slash Astronomy Cast. Not only do you help us pay our producers a fair wage, you will also get special access to content right in your inbox and invites to online events. We are so grateful to all of you who have joined our Patreon community already. Anyways, keep looking up. This has been Astronomy Cast. 

Show Notes

Sample-return mission (Wikipedia entry)

Chang’e 5 (Wikipedia entry)

Chang’e 6 (Wikipedia entry)

Martian Moons eXploration (Wikipedia entry)

Mars Sample Return – NASA Science (NASA Science)

Lunar Rocks and Soils from Apollo Missions (NASA)

Chang’e-6, collecting the first lunar farside lunar samples (The Planetary Society)

Sample Return Roundup (The Planetary Society)

Science and Challenges of Lunar Sample Return: Workshop Outcomes and Recommendations (ESA, archived by Lunar and Planetary Institute)

Chinese mission returned nearly 4 pounds of lunar samples (Spaceflight Now)