Planetary Robotics

Planetary Robotics

Mars: The Red Planet

Mars is a cold desert world. It is half the diameter of Earth and has the same amount of dry land. Like Earth, Mars has seasons, polar ice caps, volcanoes, canyons and weather, but its atmosphere is too thin for liquid water to exist for long on the surface. There are signs of ancient floods on Mars, but evidence for water now exists mainly in icy soil and thin clouds.

50 years of Mars exploration

2015 marks 50 years of successful NASA missions to Mars starting with Mariner 4 in 1965. Since then, a total of 15 robotic missions led by various NASA centers have laid the groundwork for future human missions to the Red Planet. The journey to Mars continues with additional robotic missions planned for 2016 and 2020, and human missions in the 2030s.

Basics of Mars (National Geographic)

Marc Kaufman, author of the new National Geographic book “Mars Up Close,” reveals the fascinating background of Mars exploration and shares what the Mars rovers are teaching us every day.

Mars is a rock lover’s paradise and NASA geologist John Grant is searching for clues in the rocks for telltale signs of life in the red planet’s past.

Malin Space Science Systems geologist Ken Edgett uses Curiosity, the Mars rover, to study the layers of rock on Mars, divulging secrets of the red planet’s past and learning more about our own planet, Earth.

Curiosity, the Mars rover, delivers new finds all the time. NASA scientist Pan Conrad is analyzing those findings in hopes of solving some of the many mysteries shrouding the red planet.

Europe’s off to Mars. Again. We have sent robots to fly over Mars, crawl over Mars and soon to dig down into Mars – searching for signs that once, perhaps deep in the past, this planet may have been home to life. It might be an obvious choice, but still a puzzle, and one that we’re only just beginning to piece together. And finding evidence of life will require the skill of the finest detectives.

This is a mystery that Europe’s ExoMars mission is ready to solve. In 2016 it will have a satellite in orbit around Mars, designed to test for methane, and by 2018 this rover will be rolling around the Red Planet. The mission will be the first to set out with the direct intention of finding signs of life, now, and in the past.

Preparation of Robotic Missions

The ExoMars 2016 mission will try to answer one of the toughest and most intriguing questions in our Solar System: is there, or has there ever been, life on Mars?

Getting to Mars, landing there safely, and then beginning the search for life is a huge scientific and technical challenge for the large team behind ExoMars, a joint ESA and Roscosmos project to search for life on Mars. It is the world’s biggest ever mission to the red planet.The ExoMars mission could reveal if there is, or has ever been, life on Mars by the end of the decade.

NASA’s current mission to send an astronaut to Mars is driven by development of the Orion crew exploration vehicle. The capsule spacecraft is being designed to take humans back to the moon by 2020. In later years, by rendezvous with Mars-bound vehicles assembled in orbit, it may take the first humans to the Red Planet.

Having helped design the Mars rovers Spirit, Opportunity, and Curiosity, NASA engineer Kobie Boykins reveals what these robots are telling us about the existence of life on the red planet.

Links to the detailed information about Rover systems: