Mars beckons. Human explorers can maximize the science output for unraveling the complex nature of the Red Planet.
Image credit: NASA/Pat Rawlings

The future of Mars exploration will be greatly enhanced by humans that make the sojourn to the Red Planet. Indeed, flesh and bone on that distant world far outstrips what mechanized Mars machinery can attain – but yes, certainly at far greater cost.

NASA is blueprinting a moon-to-Mars strategy that identifies science as one of three pillars upon which the agency’s quest for a sustained human exploration throughout the solar system is built.

The huge canyon that is Valles Marineris is arguably Mars’ most dramatic landscape and offers a scientific bonanza for future expeditionary crews.
Image credit: ESA/DLR/FU Berlin (G. Neukum), CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO

What’s now being plotting out is the architecture for achieving that goal.

Shoe-horning in science

Arguably, the science conducted on the surface of Mars by astronauts will have the most impact on the scope and scale of that architecture. Therefore, deciding on science priorities warrant early attention. 

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory has experimented with virtual and mixed reality environments as ways to improve exploration of Mars.
Image credit: NASA/Human Centered Design Group at JPL

Recent history demonstrates the issue of shoe-horning in science tasks for astronauts too late.

That is a central message from a recent study for the Mars Exploration Program Analysis Group (MEPAG), one that suggests how and where on the Red Planet humans can maximize exploration and science output.

To read my new Space.com story – “Humans on Mars could conduct far better science than any machine: ‘It is important to think about what supporting instruments and technologies need to be developed now to equip our astronauts for doing outstanding science at Mars.'” – go to:

https://www.space.com/humans-on-mars-better-science-machine

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