MarcoPolo-R is a proposed space mission to return a sample of material to Earth from the surface of a Near Earth asteroid (NEA) for detailed study in laboratories. Selected together with three other missions for further study under the European Space Agency's Cosmic Vision program , the mission is in competition for a single slot (M3) in the plan and if successful would launch around 2022.
The mission is derived from a previous proposal to ESA science programmes called Marco Polo, which was planned to be conducted in cooperation with the Japanese space agency JAXA.
The baseline target of the MarcoPolo-R is the near-Earth asteroid (341843) 2008 EV5. Prior to late 2012, the mission had been planned to go to the binary asteroid (175706) 1996 FG3 and EV5 was a backup target . Cost and engineering constraints led to the change to EV5, which allows a much shorter mission while still meeting the project's science goals.