Novel method of regolith sample return from extraterrestrial body using a puff of gas

Kris Zacny, D. McKay, L. Beegle, Tullis C. Onstott, R. Mueller, G. Mungas, P. Chu, J. Craft

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

11 Scopus citations


Future sample return missions to the Moon, asteroids, and in particular, Mars seek reliable and inexpensive methods of returning uncontaminated samples back to Earth. Sample return from the Moon has already been demonstrated in the 1960s and 1970s by US Apollo and Soviet Luna missions; study of these samples in earth laboratories resulted in a quantum leap in planetary science. As opposed to sample return from the Moon, sample return from Mars presents much greater challenges mainly because of the presence of the atmosphere, and sheer distance from the Earth. To reduce a mission complexity and cost, we propose a novel, low risk and actuator-free sample return of Martian regolith, dust and atmosphere. In the proposed scheme, a sample of regolith is acquired directly into a return vehicle using a pneumatic system1 2. We envisage 3 pneumatic tubes to be embedded inside the 3 legs of the lander (for redundancy). Upon landing, the legs will bury themselves into the surface and the tubes will fill up with regolith (and ice, if present). With one puff of gas injected at the base of the tubes, the sample will be lofted into a sampling chamber onboard the return vehicle. An additional chamber can acquire atmospheric gas and dust. The sample return will require only 1) a mechanism to open/close a sampling chamber and 2) a valve to open a gas cylinder.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publication2010 IEEE Aerospace Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - 2010
Event2010 IEEE Aerospace Conference - Big Sky, MT, United States
Duration: Mar 6 2010Mar 13 2010

Publication series

NameIEEE Aerospace Conference Proceedings
ISSN (Print)1095-323X


Other2010 IEEE Aerospace Conference
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityBig Sky, MT

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Space and Planetary Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Novel method of regolith sample return from extraterrestrial body using a puff of gas'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this