The Mars Exploration Program
- Conference date: 26-30 Jan 1997
- Location: Albuquerque, New Mexico (USA)
The Mars Exploration Program was initiated in 1994. It currently consists of a Discovery mission (Mars Pathfinder which will land in 1997) and the Mars Surveyor Program. The objectives of the Mars Surveyor Program are to launch 2 robotic missions every 26 months to address the three themes of Life, Climate, and Resources, with the focus of initial missions being on volatiles and climate. With the possible discovery of chemical tracers to the former existence of life on Mars in the meteorite ALH84001, the emphasis of the program may shift more towards the search for evidence of past and present life. If so, a program of sample-caching rovers, preceded by orbital mapping and followed by sample return missions, has been defined as one possible option for pursuing the life question. An augmentation of the current Mars Exploration Program budget will be required to realize such a life-oriented program.
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