Nasa asked to dream big for next rover Mars mission
US rocket engineers are being urged to push their next
Mars mission to the limits of technological performance. Scientists have told Nasa they want the agency to “dream big” to ensure their new robot rover, scheduled for launch in 2020, visits a maximum number of sites to increase chances of uncovering signs of ancient life on Mars. Rock samples – hopefully bearing fossils – would then be left in caches on the Martian surface, to be collected several years later and returned to Earth in a series of missions costing more than $10bn.
The scientific community says it wants to have the strongest possible chance of finding signs of ancient Martian life – hence its call for the next robot rover to the red planet to visit the largest possible number of places where it can collect rocks, hopefully rich in fossils. However, it acknowledges this mission will push the robot vehicle to the very limits of its performance.
“We now think the likelihood of life existing on its surface is slim to non-existent,” said Matthew Golombek from Nasa.