News & CommentMars Missions

2003 Is Earliest to Retrieve Samples

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Science  23 Aug 1996:
Vol. 273, Issue 5278, pp. 1040-1041
DOI: 10.1126/science.273.5278.1040b


A group of space scientists wants NASA to keep its feet on the ground in planning future Mars missions despite the recent flurry of excitement over evidence of possible ancient life on the red planet. In a meeting last week at NASA headquarters in Washington, D.C., the group supported additional missions to collect and analyze data on possible landing sites and to refine robotic technologies for gathering samples before sending a spacecraft to bring back any rocks and soil samples. That would mean a mission no earlier than 2003, just 2 years ahead of the schedule NASA was previously planning. The group plans another meeting next month before funneling its recommendations to another NASA advisory panel.