By Walt Hickey Have a great weekend! Still running that first month free for new paid subscribers promotion for the next two days, consider subscribing while there’s a deal. There And Back Again NASA and the European Space Agency will soon embark on the first steps of a decades-long plan to get rocks from Mars back to Earth. This July, the Perseverance rover will be launched by NASA, and one of its jobs when it lands in February will be to collect 30 tubes of dust and rock that one day may make it back to Earth. What comes next has just been finalized: in 2026, NASA and the ESA will send two spacecraft to Mars, one of which will land in a crater and one of which will orbit Mars. The lander will deploy a rover to go to Perseverance, grab the tubes, and then transport them to a small rocket. That rocket will take off into Martian orbit, rendezvous with the orbiter, which would then subsequently fly back to Earth and land in Utah in September
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