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Review of NASA's Planned Mars Program 5 Assessment of the Scientific Potential of NASA's Mars Exploration Program According to its current formulation, NASA's Mars program has the potential to achieve the following over the next decade: 1. Accomplish the goals of Mars Observer, although stretched over several launches, and so provide the basic global data needed to guide future exploration; 2. Add to our knowledge of the regolith's chemistry and mineralogy, and the isotopic composition of the atmosphere, thereby leading to improved information about past climates; 3. Achieve understanding of the exchange of volatiles at high latitudes; 4. Better characterize the dynamics of the atmosphere; and 5. Ascertain the geomorphologic characteristics of the surface and the nature of the local rock record at several landing sites. Should ESA's Intermarsnet mission progress with NASA's participation, the program will also: 6. Determine the internal structure of the planet and the present level of seismic activity. This is a vigorous and challenging program in an era of reduced science funding. The three themes of the Mars Surveyor program (life, climate, and resources), plus the unifying topic of water, are responsive to the priorities given in previous science plans, such as the Integrated Strategy (as long as NASA's current interpretation of "resources" as covering the study of martian geology, geophysics, and geochemistry continues to hold), and capture the overall objectives of the scientific community.
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