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Current and Future Planetary missions

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Current and Future Planetary missions

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  • June 8, 2008
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Current and Future Planetary Missions

Mars

Over the years there have been many missions to Mars, some were very successful, while others were not. All of these missions have been for the purpose of photographing the planet, and bringing back as much new information as possible on every aspect of the planet. Over the years these missions have evolved from simply flying by the planet and taking pictures to actually landing on the surface and deploying mobile units which can better analyze the surface. Astronomers are already hard at work on future missions to mars which include studying the geology of mars, and possibly bringing back samples to be analyzed here on earth. Looking back on past missions, Mars is indeed very interesting to study, and it is very intriguing to look at future missions which are planned in terms of what we may discover.

Some of the current missions to Mars include Phoenix, a robotic spacecraft on a space exploration mission. The scientists conducting the mission will use instruments aboard the Phoenix lander to search for environments suitable for microbial life on Mars, and to research the history of water on Mars. The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, which will attempt to bridge the gap between surface observations and measurements taken from orbit. It will focus on analyzing the Martian surface at new scales in an effort to follow the tantalizing hints of water from the Mars Global Surveyor images. The Mars Exploration Rover which includes Spirit and Opportunity rovers. The two rovers landed on opposite sides of the planet and both have continued to function over thirteen times longer than NASA had predicted. Their mission is still going, allowing the rovers to continue its study on Martian rocks and the geological features of Mars.

Mars- Beyond 2009

Mars Sample Return is perhaps the most innovative and hands-on approach of learning more about the red planet. The Committee on Planetary and Lunar Exploration (COMPLEX) has...