GALLERY

Artistic view of Marco Polo-R spacecraft exhibiting a robotic arm to collect a sample from the surface of a near-Earth asteroid (NEA). Image created from an old Marco Polo mission concept by Yoshikawa Makoto (JAXA).

Artistic view of Marco Polo-R spacecraft approaching to its targetted near-Earth asteroid (NEA). Image created from an old Marco Polo mission concept by Yoshikawa Makoto (JAXA).

Marco Polo-R spacecraft during its final Earth swing-by to get in route towards a near-Earth asteroid (NEA). Image created from an old Marco Polo mission concept by Yoshikawa Makoto (JAXA).

Artistic view of Marco Polo-R spacecraft collecting a sample from the surface of a near-Earth asteroid (NEA) with the Milky way on the background. Image created from an old Marco Polo mission concept by Yoshikawa Makoto (JAXA).

This picture exemplifies the increasing complexity in cosmic evolution: from the chemical elements synthesized in stars, up to planet formation, and life appearance. Marco Polo-R ESA mission can provide significant insight in all these fields of knowledge (Credit: Marco Polo-R/ESA).

An artistic view of Marco Polo-R rendezvous to its Near Earth Object target. Image created from an old Marco Polo mission concept by Yoshikawa Makoto (JAXA).

Scientific evidence suggests that a continuous rain of organic materials have arrived to Earth from the outer space. Marco Polo-R will gain insight into the role of transitional water- and C-rich asteroids in the terrestrial enrichment (Credit: NASA).

3.9 Gyrs ago inwards migration of Jupiter and Saturn produced a giant cataclysm (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech).

Primitive meteorites consolidated 4.565 Myrs ago, from the materials forming the protoplanetary disk. They were finally the building blocks of terrestrial planets. (Credit: Gabriel Pérez Díaz: MultiMedia Service of the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias, IAC)

Marco Polo-R mission logo (Marco Polo-R/ESA).

Small size of asteroids makes them always stellar-like objects. The arrow marks the apparent path of asteroid 3674 Erbisbühl in a CCD image taken on 2010 July 20 during a 40 min exposure. Credit: J.M. Trigo from MPCB06/CSIC-IEEC).

Marco Polo-R sampled materials could be more primitives than the most pristine chondrites arrived to earth. An example of the later is this X-ray ion microprobe composite image of a thin section of the pristine Antarctic chondrite ALHA77307. Every color shows the main elements forming the minerals, where red represents Mg, Green is Ca and Blue is Al. On top appears the thin fusion crust formed basically by magnetite (iron oxide) while the interior is protected by the low thermal inertia and remains intact. Josep M. Trigo (CSIC-IEEC).