Credit: NASA/LPI

Credit: NASA/LPI

NASA is moving forward on planting bootprints on the Red Planet.

The “First Landing Site/Exploration Zone Workshop for Human Missions to the Surface of Mars” will be held this October at the Lunar and Planetary Institute (LPI) in Houston, Texas.

The purpose of this workshop to be held October 27-30 is to identify and discuss candidate locations where humans could land, live, and work on the Martian surface.

Credit: NASA/LPI

Credit: NASA/LPI

Zoning in on Mars

This gathering will focus on “exploration zone” layout considerations. That is, identifying Regions of Interest (ROIs) that are located within approximately 60 miles (100 kilometers) of a centralized landing site.

ROIs are further defined as areas that are relevant for scientific investigation and honing the capabilities and resources necessary for a sustainable human presence

An exploration zone, or EZ, on Mars also contains a landing site and a habitation site that will be used by multiple human crews during missions to explore and utilize the ROIs within a selected zone.

Credit: Dan Durda

Credit: Dan Durda

Multi-year process

Stemming from the meeting, candidate EZs will be used by NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate (HEOMD) and Science Mission Directorate (SMD) as part of the multi-year process of determining where and how NASA would like to explore Mars with humans.

In the near term this process includes:

— Identifying locations that would maximize the potential science return from future human exploration missions

— Identifying locations with the potential for resources required to support humans

— Developing concepts and engineering systems needed by future human crews to conduct operations within an EZ

— Identifying key characteristics of the proposed candidate EZs that cannot be evaluated using existing data sets, thus helping to define precursor measurements needed in advance of human missions.

Credit: NASA

Credit: NASA

Future work

Existing and future robotic spacecraft will be tasked to gather data from specific Mars surface sites within the representative EZs to support these HEOMD and SMD activities.

This first meeting is likely to kick-start teams of scientists and engineers to flesh out exploration zones that emerge from the initial workshop.

One Response to “One small step…to Mars!”

  • Gary Church says:

    Between the dead end of LEO and the forever on the horizon but never to be reached is that place we should be building bases on as the gateway to the solar sytem: the Moon.

    Once the ISS starts falling apart and the cosmic ray problem can no longer be ignored all that will be left is the Moon.

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