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A Network Mission: Completing the Scientific Foundation for the Exploration of MarsDespite recent setbacks and vacillations in the Mars Surveyor Program, in many respects the exploration of Mars has historically followed a relatively logical path. Early fly-bys provided brief glimpses of the planet and paved the way for the initial orbital reconnaissance of Mariner 9. The Viking orbiters completed the initial survey, while the Viking landers provided our first close-up look at the surface. Essentially, Mars Pathfinder served a similar role, giving a brief look at another place on the surface. And finally, Mars Global Surveyor (and the up-coming orbital mission in 2001) are taking the next step in providing in-depth, global observations of many of the fundamental characteristics of the planet, as well as selected high-resolution views of the surface. With this last step we are well on our way to acquiring the global scientific context that is necessary both for understanding Mars in general, its origin and evolution, and for use as a basis to plan and execute the next level of focused investigations. However, even with the successful completion of these missions this context will be incomplete. Whereas we now know a great deal about the surface of Mars in a global sense, we know very little about its interior, even at depths of only a meter or so. Also, as most of this information has been acquire by remote sensing, we still lack much of the bridging knowledge between the global view and the processes and character of the surface environments themselves. Thus, in many ways we lack sufficient fundamental understanding to intelligently cast the critical investigations into important questions of the origins and evolution of Mars in general, and in particular, life. The next step in building our understanding of Mars has been identified by several previous groups who were charged with creating a strategy for Mars exploration (e.g., COMPLEX, MarSWG, Planetary Roadmap Team). This is a so-called "network" mission, which places a large number of science platforms simultaneously on the surface.
Document ID
Acquisition Source
Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Document Type
Conference Paper
W. B. Banerdt
(Jet Propulsion Lab., California Inst. of Tech. Pasadena, CA United States)
Date Acquired
August 20, 2013
Publication Date
July 1, 2000
Publication Information
Publication: Concepts and Approaches for Mars Exploration
Issue: Part 1
Subject Category
Lunar And Planetary Science And Exploration
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.
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