Prospecting the plains or mars.
A Mars Sample Return mission, shown here according to one design concept, would carry on where the Viking mission left off. This mission would continue the study of the chemical, geological, and physical properties of Mars and would search further for evidence of past or present life by revisiting the red planet. Upon landing, the robot spacecraft would install instruments and operate a small Rover vehicle (left fore ground). Most important, it would collect rock and soil specimens that would be brought back to Earth for laboratory studies by means of a sample return capsule in the spacecraft's ascent stage (streamlined device atop lander spacecraft at right).