While Curiosity is still on the hunt for evidence that life might have existed millions of years ago on Mars, NASA’s already begun talks for launching another Volkswagen sized rover to the red planet in 2020. Making use of spare parts and blueprints from the first mission to keep the costs down, the agency is focused on exploring the surface and believe technology already proven by their novel landing will allow them to do so again despite the tough fiscal times facing them. While its true purpose is yet to be determined, there is some expectation that it will be the first stage in a campaign to return Martian soil and rocks to Earth for further study. With a mandate from the White House to have astronauts circle Mars by the 2030s, the current debate is whether this rover will store its samples until such a crew arrived, or if another spacecraft will have to instead be used for retrieval. However even as this remains a fluid discussion, NASA also has plans to launch the MAVEN orbiter within the next year to study the red planet’s atmosphere, not to mention their upcoming participation in the ESA’s 2016 and 2018 ExoMars missions.
1 minute read NASA’s Mars Exploration Program: Update
1 minute read
NASA’s Mars Exploration Program: Update
December 7, 2012