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Where Will We Land On Mars?

Where Will We Land On Mars?

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What?

You’ve heard us say that we’re on a journey to Mars, but the Red Planet is big. Once we get there, where will we land the first humans? We’re holding the first Landing Sites/Exploration Zones Workshop for Human Missions to the Surface of Mars to figure it out. This first workshop was held Oct. 27-30, 2015 at the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston.

Why?

The goal of this workshop was to collect proposals for locations on Mars that would be of high scientific research value while also providing natural resources to enable explorers to land, live and work safely on the Red Planet. Determining where we will land humans on Mars is a multi-year process. There was around 45 proposal teams at the workshop. This was the first of many workshops to determine the best landing site for human exploration on Mars.

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Why Now?

We plan to use existing assets at Mars, such as the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) and the Odyssey spacecraft, to support the selection process of potential Exploration Zones. However, the life expectancy of MRO and Odyssey are limited. We are eager to take advantage of the remaining operational years of those Martian images to gather high resolution maps of potential Exploration Zones while the spacecraft remain operational.

Stay Updated

The workshop will be aired live USTREAM starting at 2 p.m. EDT Tuesday, Oct. 27.

This blog post will also be updated daily with a recap from the workshop’s events.

For a full schedule of the event visit: http://www.hou.usra.edu/meetings/explorationzone2015/pdf/program.pdf


Day 1 Recap:

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“There is no such thing as robotic exploration. All exploration is human exploration — the robot is just a tool.” – John Grunsfeld, NASA Associate Administrator for the Science Mission Directorate

Day one of the workshop answered a lot of basic questions about why looking at landing sites now is important for the future of our journey to Mars.

Attendees heard from many presenters, including Ellen Ochoa, Director of Johnson Space Center and John Grunsfeld, Associate Administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate.

Experts explained that in order to leverage our current assets at Mars and start the process of picking possible landing sites, we need to start the discussion now.

This data will Inform our efforts to define what we need as far as future reconnaissance capabilities at Mars and drive where we send robotic landers to get ground truth.

Check back tomorrow for the day two update, and watch live on USTREAM starting at 9 a.m. EDT.

BONUS: Have questions about potential landing sites on Mars? We’ll be hosting a live social Q&A tomorrow at 7 p.m. EDT. Two NASA experts and one 15-year old student on one of the proposal teams will be answering your questions. Tune in on USTREAM and use #askNASA.

Day 2 Recap:

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The second day of the Mars Landing Sites Workshop was filled with presentations from various proposal groups. Contributors made cases for where the best science could be collected on the Martian surface.

We also had the opportunity to hear from a young presenter, Alex Longo. A 15-year old student from Raleigh, N.C.

Longo also joined us for the social Q&A where we answered questions from #askNASA. He, along with two NASA experts, fielded questions that ranged from specifics about the workshop, to chatting aboutMars mysteries.

Tune in tomorrow to watch more of the presentations and see potential Mars landing sites! Watch live on USTREAM starting at 9 a.m. EDT.

Check back tomorrow for the day three update.

Day 3 Recap:

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The third day of the workshop included presentations from the remaining proposal teams. This final day of presentations will lead into the last day of the workshop, when groups will discuss all of the ideas shared during the past week.

The day got really exciting when our Space Exploration Vehicle (SEV) made an appearance. This SEV concept is designed to be flexible, depending on the exploration destination. The pressurized cabin can be used for surface exploration of planetary bodies, including near-Earth asteroids and Mars.

Tomorrow is the final day of the workshop and will include group discussions. Participants will have the chance to assess the proposed sites and talk about the future steps needed for selecting a potential human landing site for our journey to Mars.

Watch these discussions live on USTREAM starting at 9 a.m. EDT.

Final Day Recap:

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The final day of our workshop on potential Mars landing sites included discussions on the presentations that were made throughout the week.

Participants also had the opportunity to hear from NASA experts like Jim Green, director of planetary science, about future exploration and our journey to Mars.

Video of the full workshop will be available on the Lunar Planetary Institute’s YouTube channel. For more information and updates on our journey to Mars, visit HERE.

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