NASA plans further Mars rover exploration

NASA has announced plans for a new Mars rover that will build on the success of the current Curiosity mission.

Scientists will be asked to put forward ideas for research projects that could be conducted with the new rover, which will be launched in 2020 and will increase the total number of Mars-related missions being run or planned by the US space agency to seven.

At the start of this year, NASA pulled out of the ExoMars collaboration with the European Space Agency (ESA) to send a rover to look for signs of life on the red planet by 2018 — a project that ESA is now planning to carry out with Russian space agency Roscosmos.

However, the success of the Curiosity rover — which is currently exploring Mars to assess whether the planet ever had the conditions to support life — means the US has a proven technology platform for deploying a new scientific mission and so can reduce the costs of building a new rover.

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December 5, 2012



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