HOUSTON—NASA’s 2020 budget proposal seeks a $109 million investment in a Mars sample return mission, probably conducted in partnership with the European Space Agency (ESA), and launched as soon as 2026. The return of rock samples to further assess whether Mars once and possibly still hosts some form of life is considered a high priority by the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. It depends on the success of the Mars 2020 rover, which is faced with a small ...

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