NASA developing concepts for future Mars missions

NASA’s call to scientists and engineers to help plan a new strategy to explore Mars has resulted in almost double the amount of expected submissions, with many unique and bold ideas.

About 400 concepts or abstracts were submitted to the Concepts and Approaches for Mars Exploration Workshop in Houston, which was organised to gather input for the reformulation of NASA’s Mars Exploration Program. Submissions came from individuals and teams that included professional researchers, undergraduate and graduate students, NASA centres, federal laboratories, industry, and international partner organisations.

NASA is reformulating the Mars Exploration Program, to be responsive to high-priority science goals and President Obama’s challenge of sending humans to Mars in the early 2030s.

“This strong response sends a clear message that exploring Mars is important to future exploration,” said John Grunsfeld, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. “The challenge now will be to select the best ideas for the next phase.”

Selected abstracts will be presented during a workshop, from 12-14 June, hosted by the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston. Selectees are now being invited to present and discuss concepts, options, capabilities and innovations to advance Mars exploration. Workshop discussion will help to formulate a strategy for long-term exploration.

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