Will NASA be able to return Mars samples to Earth? New audit raises doubt

 A new assessment says NASA's ambitious effort to bring clean Mars samples to Earth for processing is experiencing serious obstacles.  

 NASA's Office of Inspector General (OIG) audit of the Mars Sample Return (MSR) Program identifies design, cost, and schedule issues. 

 MSR will bring Martian geological samples to Earth for research.  

 It requires landing on Mars to gather Perseverance rover samples and launching them to an orbiter for transport to Earth.   

 Mars' Perseverance is already grabbing and storing samples. However, the program must create a Sample Retrieval Lander (SRL) ,,,

 and an Earth Return Orbiter (ERO), which the ESA is developing and funding.  

 The OIG report calls MSR one of NASA's most technically challenging, operationally demanding, and ambitious robotic science missions.  

 County schools will be closed on April 8, so residents should stock up on food and gas.  

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