Mars 2003 Mission

Waiting in the wings-a set of Missions designed to follow up on the success of Viking, Pathfinder and Global Surveyor... Leading, perhaps, to the first human Missions to Mars.

Next up, twin rovers named "Athena" to land using airbags, like Pathfinder in 2004.

These rovers would be much larger than Sojourner, and able to cover 100 meters each day.

On board, a rock abrasion tool, nicknamed "Rat", to expose fresh rock surfaces for study, and next-generation sensors to assay the composition of the rocks.

One goal, to find out more precisely how much water once was here...and how suitable Mars once was for life.

Based on the success of Sojourner, Matt Golombeck is sure that rovers are the way to go.

Matt Golombek
Project Scientist, Mars Pathfinder
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, NASA/Caltech

If you want the ability to sample different materials out in the field, if you want the ability to go up to those different soil types, you have to have mobility. That's really needed for a mission that's kind of like Pathfinder or a longer range rover mission.

Sometime later in the decade, there are hopes for a sample return Mission, to bring a chunk of Mars back to Earth.

Perhaps one day, you-or one of your classmates-will be members of the crew for one of the first human...

"Missions to Mars."