Next Decade Mars Exploration



Mars Exploration Program 

I created this mural several years ago to portray the current program at that time.




The Mars program is designed to follow up on new discoveries, or put another way, it is "discovery-driven". That means it is impossible to say right now exactly what type of mission should be flown for 2011 and beyond. Mars scientists are going to see what the current missions discover before recommending what should come next. A good example is the extensive amount of ice that Mars Odyssey discovered on Mars. The decision was made to follow up that with a 2007 lander named Phoenix that is capable of digging into the ice near the North Pole and directly analysing it. Mars missions take years to prepare so a decision has to be made about 4 years or so before the launch opportunity. That means that JPL is kept busy preparing many different options, all of which require years of technology development and mission planning.

In January, 2007 NASA HQ selected two candidate Mars Scout proposals: "MAVEN" and "The Great Escape".

See also "NASA Selects Proposals For Future Mars Missions And Studies"


Sample return and subsurface access are part of the future Mars program


Future missions may include a 2016 Mars Science Orbiter (MSO). In 2020 a Mars Sample Return lander and rover may be sent.

Earlier possibilities for the next decade used to include an Astrobiology Field Laboratory rover followed by a Deep Drill Lander. But these proposed missions seem to have fallen by the wayside. A new landing technique is being developed for some of the next decades missions which would use a skycrane.

The Mars program has always been evolving and always will .......that's just the nature of the exploration business. Expect the unexpected and be prepared to take advantage of it!


"Still on Mars" after all these years


Corby Waste, JPL Mars artist, looking forward to the next decade of Mars exploration. Even after 2010 arrives I will still be working on artist concepts for 2020 and beyond, so "Next Decade" will continue to be correct!


National Research Council Decadal Survey books

These seven books are basically detailed reports from the top experts on what the future priorities of planetary exploration should be. At least some of my mission artwork is on all of these Decadal Survey-related book covers.


Above is a link to a 2004 video that explains the future of the robotic Mars program. It includes several of my "Next Decade" mission images. It's also available on this JPL page.


NASA HQ has made several Mars Exploration Program Presentations available online. They are the real thing, in other words, the same presentations that have been used by NASA when giving various presentations to the public, etc. or inside NASA as well. I consider these to be the gemstones of my JPL career because they feature so many of my images. Practically all the spacecraft shown were created by me with the exception of the MER rovers. It's really a thrill to look at the timelines and realize that's basically all mine!

Note: The link is down - I'm looking for the new location.


Selected 2013 and beyond mission concepts

The Mars program is still working on what missions to send in 2016, 2018, 2020 and beyond. It sounds to me like there will be either a US or European orbiter in 2016 and a Mid-Range Rover (MMR) in 2018 or 2020. The MMR mission would probably be the first step of a Mars Sample Return mission.


2013 MAVEN Mars Scout

Astrobiology Field Laboratory

Advanced Mission Study





2018 Deep Drill Lander

Advanced Mission Study


Mars Sample Return

Advanced Mission Study


Continue to Mars Science Investigations



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