FIGURE 6.1 Examples of global data sets highlight major accomplishments from multiple recent missions. SOURCE: P.R. Christensen, N.S. Gorelick, G.L. Mehall, and K.C. Murray, THEMIS Public Data Releases, Planetary Data System node, Arizona State University, available at

environments (Figure 6.2). The role of water and the habitability of the ancient environment will be further investigated by the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL), scheduled for launch in the latter part of 2011, which will carry the most advanced suite of instrumentation ever landed on the surface of a planetary object (Box 6.1).

The program of Mars exploration over the past 15 years has provided a framework for systematic exploration, allowing hypotheses to be formulated and tested and new discoveries to be pursued rapidly and effectively with follow-up observations. In addition, the program has produced missions that support one another both scientifically and through infrastructure, with orbital reconnaissance and site selection, data relay, and critical event coverage significantly enhancing the quality of the in situ missions.11,12,13 Finally, this program has allowed the Mars science

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement