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A Mars sample return mission inches forward. On paper.

This past week in Mars news was jam packed with a little bit of everything: NASA and ESA signed a let
A Mars sample return mission inches forward. On paper.
By Joost Schuur • Issue #11 • View online
This past week in Mars news was jam packed with a little bit of everything: NASA and ESA signed a letter of intent to conduct a sample return mission, the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter returned its first pictures from its new orbit, a heat shield for NASA’s 2020 Mars spacecraft cracked (NASA statement: replacement being built, will not affect testing/launch schedule) and there’s new doubts that NASA has any real active plan (or rather: budget) to get humans to Mars. Plus a few new Mars science studies.
All that, and the InSight’s Mars lander is set to launch next weekend. Check out the official launch press kit in the mean time.
I’ve begun to put together a small twitter list of InSight team members as a great source to find out more about the mission in the days and weeks to come.
NASA finally has a new, permanent  administrator, after Jim Brisdenstine (now on Twitter) received Senate confirmation. This quickly received congratulations from the space industry, including The Mars Society’s Robert Zubrin. The Mars Society president has been a supporter in the past, saying ’The fracas over Bridenstine’s nomination for NASA administrator is unfortunate and unnecessary. Bridenstine is actually a very good choice for administrator’.
PS: Very cool, to see the kind of Mars exploration pride Lompoc Valley is showing, by having two public viewing platforms for the InSight launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base.

HiRISE inspired, textured Mars art, by Kelly Standford
HiRISE inspired, textured Mars art, by Kelly Standford
Exploration
ExoMars returns first images from new orbit
Space agencies intent on mission to return Mars rocks to Earth
Bringing Mars Back To Earth - YouTube
Bringing Mars Back To Earth - YouTube
InSight Mars lander joined with Atlas 5 launcher at Vandenberg Air Force Base
NASA Sets Sights on May 5 Launch of InSight to Mars
Likely 2040 Before Mars Samples Returned Safely, Legally - And Not Likely To Answer Astrobiology Questions
The Mars Exploration Rovers Update Special Report: Perseverance Science So Far, New View of Endeavour at LPSC 2018
Beautiful Mars
At the East End of a Valley
At the East End of a Valley
Science & Tech
Mars probe poised to solve red planet’s methane mystery
Cracked heat shield won’t delay Mars 2020 mission
‘SuperCam’ Update: Multi-purpose Instrument Coming Together for 2020 Launch to Mars
NASA’s First Deep Space CubeSats - YouTube
NASA’s First Deep Space CubeSats - YouTube
Space Policy
Mars Anlog
Popular Culture
How Scientist YouTubers are putting more science in space sims
Misc
human Mars 🔴
One of the best toponymic maps of #Mars there is. Feel free to get the hi-res version of the map here: https://t.co/iL9bFPXzZk With this map you will be able to effectively follow the geographically rich story of Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars trilogy :) https://t.co/dTCPIAAKLp
7:18 PM - 25 Apr 2018
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Joost Schuur

All the fresh dirt on the planet Mars. Curated stories lovingly crafted by @joostschuur @martiansoil.

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