Just what is the Mars Exploration Program?

NASA, and most planetary scientists, believe that in order to properly understand our own planet Earth and its place in the Cosmos, we must first understand Mars. The two planets are strikingly similar yet different enough to challenge even our best theories of planet formation and survival. Each time we receive new information about Mars from a satellite or probe, it throws another wrinkle into the fabric of our understanding.

For aeons, humans have pondered the question "Are we alone in the Universe?" Thousands of years later, we still don't have an answer. Could Mars hold the key to this timeless wondering? It certainly appears to have promise. One of the defining questions motivating our quest to understand the Red Planet is just that, "Does other life exist?"

The Mars Exploration Program is a series of missions to the Red Planet over the course of several years designed to determine if Mars is, was, or ever will be a habitable planet. Their exploration stragety, "Follow the Water", will investigate geologic, climatic, and other processes on the planet to assess habitability at various instances in the planet's history.

For more information on the Mars Exploration Program, go directly to the source: NASA.

Contact the longhorns in space at lis@zircon.as.utexas.edu