a prospect that bolsters <the case> for future missions


What does "the case" refer to? It appears to mean "the plan (for future missions)" to me. I am not sure.

Despite this latest discovery’s patchwork nature, George Cody, a geochemist at the Carnegie Institution for Science who was not involved in the work, considers it an impressive step forward. The presence of these larger molecules, he says, hints at well-preserved reservoirs of carbon hidden at and just below the Martian surface—a prospect that bolsters the case for future missions to collect samples and return them to Earth. “If you can do this on Mars, imagine what you can do with analytical facilities available to us on Earth,” he says.

-Scientific American

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