NASA-ESA Mars Sample Return Independent Review Board Report

By Keith Cowing
November 10, 2020
Filed under
NASA-ESA Mars Sample Return Independent Review Board Report
Mars Sample Return

Mars Sample Return (MSR) is a highly complex and ambitious program of national importance. As noted by the MSR Independent Review Board (IRB), it is one of the most technically difficult and operationally demanding robotic space missions ever undertaken.

The MSR IRB’s nonconsensus report highlights this complexity and importance in laying out their observations, findings, and recommendations. The IRB recommends that NASA proceed with this important program and their detailed recommendations will inform the decisions we make moving forward to maximize MSR’s success.

The IRB fully met the scope of its review as laid out in the Terms of Reference, identifying a variety of critical cross-cutting factors across MSR’s organization and management science priorities and integrated operations, technical approach, and schedule and cost. NASA accepts the intent of all the IRB’s recommendations. These are included in full below (in italics), and are followed by NASA’s response (in bold) to each recommendation.

Our responses indicate the steps SMD has already begun taking to coordinate with our internal and external stakeholders, including our partners at the European Space Agency, to implement the IRB’s recommendations.

I want to thank the IRB Chair, Mr. Dave Thompson, and the experienced board he pulled together for their work to produce this comprehensive and rigorous review while meeting the constraints of a challenging eight-week timeframe. The IRB’s independent analysis provides us with valuable, thought-provoking insights as we take the necessary steps to realize this ambitious mission, the hallmark of the groundbreaking work we do at NASA.

Thomas H. Zurbuchen, Ph.D.
Associate Administrator,
Science Mission Directorate

Full Report

Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA Space Station Payload manager/space biologist, Away Teams, Journalist, Lapsed climber, Synaesthete, Na’Vi-Jedi-Freman-Buddhist-mix, ASL, Devon Island and Everest Base Camp veteran, (he/him) 🖖🏻