|Now with the Curiosity rover purposefully roaming and experimenting on the Red Planet, NASA has announced it will be sending another rover to Mars in 2020. NASA also put the new, unnamed mission into a broader context of Mars exploration, showing how many different methods will be used for exploring Mars until the next decade.|
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said. "With this next mission, we're ensuring America remains the world leader in the exploration of the Red Planet, while taking another significant step toward sending humans there in the 2030s."
The plan includes using 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.
The agency will now design and build a new Mars robot rover with a launch in 2020 comes only months after the agency announced InSight, which will launch in 2016, bringing a total of seven NASA missions operating or being planned to study and explore our Earth-like neighbor.
The future rover development and design will be based on the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) architecture that brought the Curiosity rover to the Martian surface this summer. NASA says this will ensure mission costs and risks are as low as possible, while still delivering a highly capable rover with a proven landing system.
"The challenge to restructure the Mars Exploration Program has turned from the seven minutes of terror for the Curiosity landing to the start of seven years of innovation," NASA's associate administrator for science, and astronaut John Grunsfeld said. "This mission concept fits within the current and projected Mars exploration budget, builds on the exciting discoveries of Curiosity, and takes advantage of a favorable launch opportunity."
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