MarcoPolo-R was 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.
On February 19, 2014, the PLATO mission was selected in favour of the other candidates in the programme, including MarcoPolo-R.
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.