NASA Announces the Launch of New Mars Rover in 2020

First Posted: Dec 05, 2012 06:52 AM EST

NASA made an announcement stating its plans for a robust multi-year Mars program, including a new robotic science rover set to launch in 2020. 

This new program will meet the nation's scientific and human exploration objectives.

"The Obama administration is committed to a robust Mars exploration program," 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 newly planned portfolio consists of Curiosity and Opportunity rovers; two NASA spacecrafts 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 2020 launch will make a total of seven NASA missions operating or being planned to study and explore our Earth-like neighbor. The 2020 launch is a step toward being responsive to high-priority science goals and the President's challenge of sending humans to Mar's orbit in the 2030s.

The Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) will decide on the design of the new rover .

"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," said John Grunsfeld, associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "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."

This mission fits within the five-year budget plan in the President's Fiscal Year 2013 budget request, and is contingent on future appropriations.

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