What’s brewing on Mars?
Image credit: Explore Mars

The National Academies has assembled a new committee to gather and review information for a report: “A Science Strategy for the Human Exploration of Mars.”

It will identify high-priority science objectives in all relevant disciplines to be addressed by human explorers across multiple science campaigns on the surface of Mars,” explains Colleen Hartman, Director, Aeronautics, Astronomy, Physics, and Space Science at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.

Credit: Lockheed Martin


“We are performing the work under two of my Boards: the Space Studies Board (SSB) and the Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board (ASEB),” Hartman told Inside Outer Space.

The study co-chairs are two leading researchers: Lindy Elkins-Tanton from Arizona State University and MIT’s Dava Newman.

Four panels are to be formed to provide input to the steering committee. Those panels are focused on: Atmospheric Science and Space Physics, Geosciences, Biological and Physical Sciences and Human Factors, and on Astrobiology.

Overview map shows proposed Exploration Zones (EZ)/human landing sites for NASA’s humans-to-Mars undertaking.
Credit: ICA/NASA


Landing sites

One output from the report is identifying preliminary criteria for the selection of appropriate landing sites on Mars, Hartman advised. The committee will also take up commonalities with Moon exploration.

For the highest priority science campaigns, the blue-ribbon group will identify preliminary criteria for appropriate landing sites, based on available data, that will enable science objectives to be met.

Human explorers on Mars will enlist a variety of tools to reveal the secrets of the Red Planet.
Image credit: NASA


Examples of criteria that might be considered include: 1) ice within a certain surface depth, 2) salt-bearing materials accessible to crew, or 3) caves with accessible entrance points for human explorers.

A number of meetings are to be held this year, into 2025.


Wanted: senior scientist for Mars

Meanwhile, the hunt is on at NASA for a senior scientist for Mars Exploration within the agency’s Planetary Science Division.

Image credit: NASA

That person will serve as a senior science advisor on all matters concerning scientific content and strategy for Mars exploration, including the Mars Exploration Program, as well as the forthcoming restructuring of the Mars Sample Return program.

Among other tasks, the senior scientist will also lead NASA science planning and coordination, in collaboration with international partners, in preparation for delivery of Mars samples.

One Response to “New Study: Human Exploration of Mars”

  • Ben huset says:

    I suggest site 1 followed by 36. #1 aka ‘Happy Valley’ in ‘For All Mankind’. Also thicker air. #36 as that was probably the most recent wet spot on Mars

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