Wednesday, 05 December 2012 13:50
December 5, 2012
NASA has announced that the success of the Curiosity rover has been the catalyst for another mission to Mars, with a second machine expected to be launched into space in 2020.
According to The Los Angeles Times, officials from the space agency used the meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco to confirm that it was focusing on the Red Planet for the foreseeable future. Curiosity has performed above expectations, with the scientific and engineering research conducted by the rover seen as a good enough reason to keep exploring other regions of the planet.
NASA has advised that a second rover mission is still very much in the early stages of planning, with no objectives set or even what it would be equipped with. The general consensus among the 18,000 attendees at the meeting was that the agency would be looking to bring a piece of Mars back to Earth for study, a complex and potentially expensive task.
"Collecting a cache of samples is difficult - it requires a very capable vehicle," said Steve Squyres, lead scientist for the Mars exploration rover mission, which put Opportunity on the planet in 2004. "The vehicle that [John Grunsfeld] just described for launch in 2020 is fully capable of doing that job."
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