NASA Reveals New Mars Robotic Exploration Strategy

Written By: Zac Aubert

Published: Fri, Mar 31, 2023 10:54 PM

Latest Update: Fri, Mar 31, 2023 11:03 PM

NASA has revealed a draft strategy for long-term robotic exploration of Mars that emphasizes low-cost missions and potential commercial partnerships.

The new strategy called “Exploring Mars Together”, is designed to create a sustainable series of missions to Mars with the aim to advance science and refresh the infrastructure needed to support other missions. Missions will launch during every Mars window, which occurs approximately once every two years.

The missions will support three broad science themes.

1.) Continued search for signs of life, such as biosignatures and other evidence of habitability.

2.) Inform future human missions to Mars, including analysis of ice deposits or characterizing potential health hazards.

3.) Study other aspects of a “dynamic Mars” such as geology and climate.

The plan will involve launching low-cost missions, which would come in at between $100 million and $300 million each. These would be supplemented by medium-class missions, similar in size to the New Frontiers line of planetary science missions, and smaller payloads that could fly as missions of opportunity on international or commercial missions.

The plan also includes strengthening an aging infrastructure of orbiters that provide communications and imagery. In particular, NASA is concerned about the Mars relay network, the set of science orbiters that are tasked with relaying communications from spacecraft on the surface.

The agency plans to launch a spacecraft with a high-resolution camera and relay payload in the early 2030s.

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