Workshop: Sample return from all across the Solar System

September 9 - 13, 2024
California Institute of Technology - Pasadena, CA 91125

Workshop Overview:

This study will evaluate the science case for, and feasibility of, returning samples from the surface, atmosphere, and/or plumes of planetary bodies all across the Solar System, from Mercury to Kuiper Belt Objects beyond Pluto’s orbit.

The planetary science community has fully entered the era of sample return from planetary bodies, following the recent successes of the Japan Aerospace eXploration Agency (JAXA) Hayabusa 1 & 2 missions and NASA’s Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, and Security – Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) mission. The Origins, Worlds and Life (OWL) Planetary Decadal Survey for the current 2023-2032 decade furthermore placed a very strong emphasis on sample return missions. Mars Sample Return is considered the highest priority mission for this decade. Sample return missions from the surface of a comet nucleus, and from Ceres, are among targets for upcoming rounds of New Frontiers missions.

Recent rocket technology advances (e.g. NASA’s Space Launch System or the ongoing development of SpaceX’s Starship), as well as emerging in-flight nuclear propulsion technologies (nuclear thermal propulsion, nuclear electric propulsion) will, when combined, enable the launch of spacecraft with sufficient propulsive power to reach previously unforeseen destinations with enough resources to carry a landed sampling platform and return samples back to Earth within a much shorter timespan than previously achievable.

Through this Study Program we anticipate ultimately arriving at a prioritized list of solar system targets for sample return missions for decades to come, based on the expected science return and technology readiness, and may provide recommendations for technology developments needed to enable such missions.

The objectives for this workshop will be to:

  • Review enabling propulsion technologies and mission design options
  • Review the scientific achievements of past sample return missions, and scientific objectives of publicly available sample return mission concepts
  • Leverage the strategic research / missions recommended for each potential type of target by the Origins, Worlds and Life Decadal Survey
  • Discuss for each target type the comparative scientific value of analyses of returned samples vs. remote sensing and/or in-situ measurements.

A key outcome of the workshop will be to determine preliminary requirements on number of samples, sample acquisition, sample integrity and preservation during return, sample curation and processing, and sample analysis.

Schedule coming soon...

List of Workshop Participants Coming Soon...

Lodging for out-of-town attendees

There are a number of hotels that are close to the Caltech campus where we have a negotiated rate. (Please note that this negotiated rate does not guarantee you the lowest rate as there may be internet specials or AAA rates that may be better.)

Please note that with enough notice, you can reserve rooms for attendees at the Athenaeum, which has been recognized as a Platinum Club of America. Newly refurbished, it is conveniently located on the Caltech Campus. Contact Janet Seid if you would like to check the availability of this option.

Directions to the Keck Center

For information on arriving to the Keck Center, visit our Maps & Directions page.

Parking (for Visitors and for JPL Personnel)

For Visitors: From the Arroyo Parkway, turn right (east) on Del Mar Avenue. Proceed approximately one and a quarter miles. The Caltech campus will be on your right. Turn right (south) onto Wilson Avenue. Turn right into the North Wilson Structure and park in an unmarked spot. Buy a parking permit from the kiosk located inside the North Wilson Structure or request one ahead of time from KISS.

For JPL Personnel: JPLers may use their JPL hang tag for parking or request a special parking hangtag from the JPL parking office. Employees who do not have on-Lab parking privileges can obtain a hang tag created for this purpose from JPL parking coordinator Robert Kennedy (818-354-4586, Building 310-108B, 9/80 schedule). Please park in an unmarked spot in the North Wilson Structure located on Wilson Avenue.

Maps and General Information on Pasadena

Visa Requirements

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