MarcoPolo-R is a proposed European Space Agency (ESA) mission that aims to obtain a sample from a primitive near-Earth asteroid, asteroid 341843, provisionally named 2008 EV5, and return it to Earth for study. 2008 EV5 is considered a primitive type of asteroid because it preserves material little altered from the time when the solar system formed. It is also a “potentially hazardous asteroid,” which means its orbit comes close to Earth's orbit (within 0.05 AU). Being close is an advantage for science research because it allows for a very short mission duration that will allow a sample to be collected and brought back to Earth within 3.5 years.
NASA’s Contributions and Commitment to MarcoPolo-R
NASA’s contributions to the MarcoPolo-R mission include a sampling system, a scanning mechanism for the MarcoPolo-R Imaging Spectrometer (MaRIS), and science team support. The administration’s commitment to this mission is outlined in the correspondence posted below.
NASA letter (PDF) from James Green (Director of NASA’s Planetary Science Division) to Luigi Colangeli (Head of ESA’s Solar System Missions Division) affirming continued support for NASA contributions to MarcoPolo-R