In July of 2020, the NASA Perseverance rover launched with the Atlas V rocket. Some seven months later, in February of 2021, it successfully landed in the Jezero Crater on the surface of Mars to begin its scientific exploration mission.
However, the mission doesn't just consist of taking a few road trips and snapping some selfies along the way. Perseverance has been fitted with state of the art dirt collection samplers, which sounds a bit strange considering that Perseverance will never return back to the Earth.
As it turns out, Perseverance is only the first of a three part exploration mission. The sample collection phase will end in 2023 and, around nearly a decade later in 2031, a second mission will launch for the samples to be collected from the surface of Mars. This will consist of a second rover, specifically engineered to retrieve the samples collected by Perseverance. The last and final mission, which will be launched in the same year, will be a rocket that takes the samples back to Earth.
The entire three part mission will cost over $9 Billion before any lab research even begins back on Earth.
Perseverance will collect a total of 43 "chalk sized" samples which, in total, will weigh far less than a kilogram. The cost of this is...well... more than $9 Billion! But, what secrets it may hold might be priceless...
The purpose of this whole mission is to gather insight and data to further our understanding of Mars' environment, as well as research into whether or not Mars has – or had – life.
Take a look at the video below by the YouTube channel, Business Insider, on Why Dirt From Mars Is So Expensive.