The human-crewed expedition to Mars will most likely occur before the midpart of this century—possibly as early as 2035. Current expedition scenarios suggest a 600- to 1,000-day duration mission that most likely will start from Earth orbit, possibly powered by a nuclear thermal rocket. A total crew size of as many as 15 astronauts is anticipated. After hundreds of days of travel through interplanetary space, the first Martian explorers
This artist's rendering shows two astronaut-scientists (one an exobiologist and the other a geologist) exploring a promising sedimentary deposit on Mars ca. 2035. They are searching for fossils of ancient life on the Red Planet. (NASA/JSC; artist, Pat Rawlings)
will have about 30 days allocated for surface excursion activities on the Red Planet. Previous robot missions will have identified candidate sites worthy of direct detailed investigation by human explorers.
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