One of the salutary effects of the election of Donald Trump will likely be the final cancellation of the ill-conceived and unpopular Asteroid Redirect Mission. The ARM grew out of President Barack Obama’s idea of sending astronauts to an Earth approaching asteroid. But now Space experts are casting around for something that will test most of the technologies that ARM would have but would be aligned more with both NASA’s Journey to Mars and joint ventures with the commercial space sector.

According to Yahoo Finance, former astronaut and physicist John Grunsfeld is proposing a Mars sample return mission.

The proposed mission would be broken down into its parts.

First, the Mars 2020 rover would collect soil and rock samples and store them for future retrieval.

Next, in 2022, a communications/water prospecting satellite would be launched to orbit around Mars, propelled and powered by a solar electric propulsion module (SEP).

The satellite, equipped with ground penetration radar and imaging sensors would map out Mars’ water resources. That mission being done, the SEP module would undock, leaving an advanced, broadband comsat in Mars orbit.

Finally, in 2024, a SpaceX Red Dragon, carrying a small rover and an ascent vehicle, would launch and land near the Mars 2020 rover. The smaller rover would retrieve the geology samples from Mars 2020, and load them into the ascent vehicle.

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The ascent vehicle would blast off, dock with the SEP module, and then return to Earth.

The three-part mission would provide a wealth of benefits, including providing modern communications from Mars, testing a large scale solar electric propulsion module, foster cooperation with between the private sector and NASA, and acquire a load of Mars rocks and soil for scientists to study.

Now, the question arises, will Team Trump go for it?

Rumor has it that Trump is angling to put a return to the moon back on NASA's agenda. To be sure that decision would not foreclose Mars and, in some ways, would benefit the mission to the Red Planet. But it is all about money and how willing Trump is to use space to make America great again.

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