The mission to return martian samples back to Earth will see a European 2.5 metre-long robotic arm pick up tubes filled with precious soil from Mars and transfer them to a rocket for an historic interplanetary delivery.
The sophisticated robot, known as the Sample Transfer Arm or STA, will play a crucial role in the success of the Mars Sample Return campaign. The joint endeavour between @NASA and ESA aims to bring back martian samples to the best labs in our planet by 2033.
The robotic arm will land on Mars to retrieve the sample tubes NASAs Perseverance rover is currently collecting from the surface. Able to see, feel and take autonomous decisions, the Sample Transfer Arm will identify, pick up and transfer the tubes into the first rocket fired off another planet the Mars Launch System.
Only after the robot closes the containers lid, the martian samples will be launched for rendezvous with ESAs Earth Return Orbiter (ERO) and bring the material back to Earth.
The Sample Transfer Arm is conceived to be autonomous, highly reliable and robust.
Its architecture mimics a human arm with a shoulder, elbow and wrist, and has its own built-in brain and eyes. The robot can perform a large range of movements with seven degrees of freedom.
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