Mars Sample-Return Goal Drives NASA’s Exploration of Red Planet

by Mike Wall, Senior Writer
Date: 25 September 2012 Time: 02:49 PM ET

The next steps in NASA’s Mars exploration strategy should build toward returning Martian rocks and dirt to Earth to search for signs of past life, a new report by the space agency’s Red Planet planning group finds.

The report, released today (Sept. 25) by the Mars Program Planning Group (MPPG), lays out a series of options that NASA could employ to get pieces of the Red Planet in scientists’ hands here on Earth. The space agency is now mulling those options and could announce its chosen path by early next year, when the White House releases its proposed budget for fiscal year 2014.

Read more: Mars Sample-Return Missions Dominate NASA’s Red Planet Exploration Plans |

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