WASHINGTON DC: NASA is currently on the hunt for a suitable candidate for heading its upcoming Mars Sample Return (MSR) program, which as the name suggests, would attempt to bring Martian rock, soil and air samples back to earth.
This mission is the first of its kind as none of the previous four Mars rovers were tasked with bringing back extraterrestrial samples.
According to the New York Post, NASA has joined hands with the ESA to accomplish this ambitious project which is set for launch sometime around July 2020.
The job vacancy that appeared on NASA's website is looking for a program director for the MSR mission who would be responsible for supervising various aspects of the project.
The candidates need to have the prerequisite experience in the field of spaceflight along with a college degree in the relevant discipline.
NASA has offered a hefty annual package of 188,066 dollars for this job which would be based in Washington D.C. The agency would be entertaining resumes only till February 5.
According to a news release by ESA -- NASA's partner for this project --, the mission would require three separate launces to accomplish its objective.
The first NASA Mars 2020 launch would place a sample collection rover on the Martian surface to "explore the surface and rigorously document and store a set of samples in canisters in strategic areas to be retrieved later for flight to Earth."
In the next launch, a Sample Return Lander mission would be shot towards Mars atop a NASA rocket, that is going to land and set a platform near the location where the original Mars 2020 mission touched down. "From here, a small ESA rover - the Sample Fetch Rover - will head out to retrieve the cached samples," the release further said.
Once the ESA rover is done with the treasure hunt, it would proceed towards its platform and load the samples into a single canister fitted on the Mars Ascent Vehicle (MAV). The MAV would then launch itself up into the Martian orbit along with the basketball-sized container.
In the third and final launch, ESA's Earth Return Orbiter would try to pull off the intricate task of catching the tiny canister from the orbit and bringing it back to Earth.
Justifying the worth of such a monumental effort, ESA stated in its release that, "bringing samples back to Earth will facilitate studies that are simply not possible in the miniaturized rover laboratories -- however sophisticated -- and, perhaps more importantly, will enable future discoveries as analytical techniques improve over time."