NASA must hold samples returned from Mars in quarantine until the Sample Science Team determines their biological character and safety. A significant challenge, unique to NASAís needs, is how to contain the samples (to protect the
biosphere) while simultaneously protecting their pristine nature for scientific studies. This paper presents an analysis of several mission architecture considerations for receiving, handling and analyzing these samples, known as Mars Returned Sample Handling (MRSH). The criteria in this design analysis include: location and types of facilities, transportation of samples or the Earth return vehicle, modes of manipulation; capability for destructive as well as non-destructive testing, avoidance of cross-contamination, sample storage, and retrieval within a closed system.