Going to Mars

After reading Tom's post about Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, I thought I would list some of the planned missions to the red planet plus some of those under consideration. It will give the Earth a chance to gain back some points on the Mars Expensive Hardware Lob scorecard (we are currently losing 17 points to 20).



  • Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (NASA)
    Arrives: November 2006
    Location: 190 miles altitude orbit
    Objectives: Higher resolution images of the surface, sub-surface radar.


  • Rosetta (ESA)
    Arrives: February 2007
    Location: Mars flyby on way to Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko
    Objectives: No Martian observations announced yet


  • Phoenix (NASA)
    Arrives: May 2008
    Location: On the surface between latitude 65 and 75-north
    Objectives: Take images during descent, stereo images on the surface, dig trenches up to half a metre into the water ice, analyze soil samples with an oven and observe the martian atmosphere.


  • Mars Telecommunications Orbiter (NASA)
    Arrives: September 2010
    Location: In orbit at a distance of 5000 km
    Objectives: Act as an interplanetary communications hub using near infrared lasers to communicate with Earth. It will also release a football-sized (soccer ball) lump of metal which it will attempt to track in orbit as a test for a future sample-return mission (possibly 2013).


  • Mars Science Laboratory (NASA)
    Arrives: October 2010
    Location: TBD
    Objectives: Test precision landing techniques, analyze martian soil for organic compounds, detect water, observe the weather, X-Ray Spectrometry.


  • ExoMars (ESA)
    Arrives: TBD
    Location: In orbit and on the surface (two spacecraft)
    Objectives: characterise the biological environment, a rover equipped with a drilling system and a sampling and handling device.


  • Mars Sample and Return (ESA and or NASA)
    Arrives: TBD (> 2011)
    Location: In orbit and on the surface (five spacecraft in ESA design)
    Objectives: Land on Mars, collect samples and return them to Earth.


  • Astrobiology Field Laboratory (NASA)
    Arrives: TBD
    Location: Surface
    Objectives: Look for evidence of life past or present.


  • Deep-drill Lander (NASA)
    Arrives: TBD
    Location: TBD
    Objectives: Drill hundreds of metres into the Martian surface.

Posted in astro blog by Stuart on Tuesday 26th Jul 2005 (01:22 UTC) | Permalink
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