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NASA to draft 20-year Mars strategy by August

France,Science/Tech, Sat, 14 Apr 2012 IANS

Moscow, April 14 (IANS/RIA Novosti) NASA will compile the Mars research plan for next 20 years by August, the US space agency officials have said.


According to NASA, the programme would be reformulated to reflect the space agency's "high-priority science goals" and President Barack Obama's challenge of sending a manned space mission to the Red Planet in the 2030s.


"We're moving quickly to develop options for future Mars exploration missions and pathways," said John Grunsfeld, an astrophysicist, five-time space shuttle astronaut and associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate at the agency's headquarters in Washington.


In late February, former veteran NASA programme manager Orlando Figueroa was appointed to lead a newly established Mars Program Planning Group (MPPG) tasked to reformulate the agency's Mars Exploration Programme.


In March, the group laid the framework of the future plan and possible Mars research tasks.


After the US administration cut financing for NASA's Mars programme, the MPPG announced it was seeking the help of researchers around the world, asking them to submit ideas about how to study Mars on a limited budget.


"As part of this process, community involvement, including international, is essential for charting the new agency-wide strategy for our future Mars exploration efforts," Grunsfeld added.


NASA also had to announce its withdrawal from the European-led ExoMars mission due to budget cuts.


--IANS/RIA Novosti




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