While officials at NASA and the European Space Agency, as well as planners in China, plot out ultra-expensive and complicated missions to return samples from Mars, there are an increasing number of researchers blueprinting low-cost and novel ways to further explore the Red Planet.
Be it via souped-up helicopters or inexpensive landers and orbiters, they say it’s time to script new ways to gather more data from a variety of places on that remote world. How to use relatively low-priced craft for a next round of investigation is backed by Bethany Ehlmann, a planetary scientist at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.
“Mars, like Earth, is diverse. Different locales capture different environmental snapshots,” Ehlmann told Space.com. There’s plenty of exploration to do, she added, citing the possibility of visiting amazing and exotic sites that spacecraft have imaged from orbit, such as the Valles Marineris canyon system and the Martian polar caps.