NASA has announced plans for a robust multi-year Mars program, including a new "robotic science rover" set to launch in 2020, and the launch of two spacecraft to research the atmosphere of the red planet, with a view to commence in 2013.
"The challenge to restructure the Mars Exploration Program has turned from the seven minutes of terror for the Curiosity landing to the start of seven years of innovation," NASA's associate administrator for science, and astronaut John Grunsfeld said. "This mission concept fits within the current and projected Mars exploration budget, builds on the exciting discoveries of Curiosity, and takes advantage of a favorable launch opportunity."
The Mars Atmospher and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) orbiter will study the upper atmosphere of Mars, and the Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport (InSight) mission will go deep into the interior of the planet.
ESA's 2016 and 2018 ExoMars missions will receive aid by NASA technology, including "Electra" telecommunication radions and astrobiology instruments. And finally, two short years after this, NASA will launch a new Mars rover mission.
"With this next mission, we're ensuring America remains the world leader in the exploration of the Red Planet, while taking another significant step toward sending humans there in the 2030s." NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said.
NASA will be making a live announcement at 7PM ET (Midnight GMT), via the livestream below.