On Dec. 4, NASA announced plans for a robust multi-year Mars program, including a new robotic science rover based on the Curiosity design set to launch in 2020. The planned portfolio includes the Curiosity and Opportunity rovers; two NASA spacecraft and contributions to one European spacecraft currently orbiting Mars; the 2013 launch of the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) orbiter to study the Martian upper atmosphere; the Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport (InSight) mission, which will take the first look into the deep interior of Mars; and participation in ESA's 2016 and 2018 ExoMars missions, including providing "Electra" telecommunication radios to ESA's 2016 mission and a critical element of the premier astrobiology instrument on the 2018 ExoMars rover. With InSight, there will be a total of seven NASA missions operating or being planned to study and explore our Earth-like neighbor.The 2020 mission will constitute another step toward being responsive to high-priority science goals and the president's challenge of sending humans to Mars orbit in the 2030s.
NASA Makes Unprecedented Return To Mars, Advances Commercial Spaceflight And Adds To Its Amazing Research And Discoveries In 2012
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