Welcome to the new version of CaltechAUTHORS. Login is currently restricted to library staff. If you notice any issues, please email coda@library.caltech.edu
Published October 2009 | Published
Journal Article Open

Planning Considerations for a Mars Sample Receiving Facility: Summary and Interpretation of Three Design Studies


It has been widely understood for many years that an essential component of a Mars Sample Return mission is a Sample Receiving Facility (SRF). The purpose of such a facility would be to take delivery of the flight hardware that lands on Earth, open the spacecraft and extract the sample container and samples, and conduct an agreed-upon test protocol, while ensuring strict containment and contamination control of the samples while in the SRF. Any samples that are found to be non-hazardous (or are rendered non-hazardous by sterilization) would then be transferred to long-term curation. Although the general concept of an SRF is relatively straightforward, there has been considerable discussion about implementation planning. The Mars Exploration Program carried out an analysis of the attributes of an SRF to establish its scope, including minimum size and functionality, budgetary requirements (capital cost, operating costs, cost profile), and development schedule. The approach was to arrange for three independent design studies, each led by an architectural design firm, and compare the results. While there were many design elements in common identified by each study team, there were significant differences in the way human operators were to interact with the systems. In aggregate, the design studies provided insight into the attributes of a future SRF and the complex factors to consider for future programmatic planning.

Additional Information

© 2009 Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. The authors wish to recognize the teams and dedicated individuals at Industrial Design and Construction (IDC) of Portland, Oregon; Lord, Aeck, Sargent (LAS) of Atlanta, Georgia; and Flad & Associates (FLAD) of Madison, Wisconsin, for their diligence, interest, and hard work that comprises the core of this paper. We also want to acknowledge study participant and reviewer Jonathan Richmond, and members of the 1999–2002 Mars Returned Sample Handling team Lisa Fletcher, Mary Sue Bell, Judy Allton, Stan Farkas, Geoff Briggs, Laurie Carrillo, Kimberly Cyr, Sandy Dawson, Janis Graham, Ragnhold Landheim, Rocco Mancinelli, Ed Mickelson, and Nancy Robertson, whose work led up to the SRF design studies. Thanks also to Margaret Race, John Rummel, and Joe Parrish who all contributed to our understanding during the planning and performance of the SRF design study effort; Jeff Schanz, who provided continued technical assistance after the delivery of the studies; and reviewer Richard Mattingly. The research described in this paper carried out at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, was done so under a contract with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. No competing financial interests exist. The cost information contained in this document is of a budgetary and planning nature and is intended for informational purposes only. It does not constitute a commitment on the part of JPL and/or Caltech.

Attached Files

Published - ast.2009.0339.pdf


Files (21.5 MB)
Name Size Download all
21.5 MB Preview Download

Additional details

August 21, 2023
October 19, 2023