The Norman Transcript

Nation/World

December 5, 2012

NASA sets sights back on Mars

LOS ANGELES — NASA is headed to Mars — again.

The space agency said Tuesday it plans to launch another mega-rover to Mars in 2020 that will be modeled after the wildly popular Curiosity. To keep costs down, engineers will borrow Curiosity’s blueprints, build from spare parts where possible and use proven technology including the novel landing system that delivered the car-size rover inside an ancient crater in August.

The announcement comes as NASA reboots its Mars exploration program during tough fiscal times.

“If we act now, we can build one at the lowest possible price,” NASA sciences chief John Grunsfeld said in an interview.

Like Curiosity, the mission will be managed by the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, but many other details still need to be worked out including where the rover will land and what instruments it will carry to the surface.

While the science goals are still fuzzy, NASA said the rover at the very least should kickstart a campaign to return Martian soil and rocks to Earth — a goal trumpeted by many scientists. The current rover doesn’t have that capability.

Despite Curiosity’s successful landing, the road to the launch pad was bumpy. At $2.5 billion, the project ran over schedule and over budget.

Jim Green, director of NASA’s planetary science division, said the engineering hurdles have been fixed and he expected the new rover to cost less. One independent estimate put the mission at $1.5 billion, though NASA is working on its own cost estimate.

The red planet will see a flurry activity over the next several years. Next year, NASA plans to launch an orbiter to study the atmosphere followed by a relatively low-cost robotic lander in 2016.

For local news and more, subscribe to The Norman Transcript Smart Edition, or our print edition.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Nation/World
  • FedEx charges raising online pharmacy issues

    SAN FRANCISCO — FedEx Corp., the latest company accused in a federal probe involving illegal online pharmacies, says it will fight the charges that it knowingly shipped drugs to people who lack valid prescriptions....

    July 27, 2014

  • EU, U.S. seek to curb Putin’s Ukraine course

    BRUSSELS — Months after Russia annexed Crimea and stepped up support for separatists in eastern Ukraine, Europe and the United States are still searching for a way to persuade Russian President Vladimir Putin to change course....

    July 27, 2014

  • Fighting intense near crash

    DONETSK, Ukraine — Ukrainian armed forces mounted a major onslaught against pro-Russian separatist fighters Sunday in an attempt to gain control over the area where a Malaysia Airlines plane was downed earlier this month....

    July 27, 2014

  • Gaza war rages despite truce pledges

    GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Israel and Hamas launched new attacks Sunday in the raging Gaza war, despite going back and forth over proposals for a temporary halt to nearly three weeks of fighting ahead of a major Muslim holiday....

    July 27, 2014

  • Hamas fires rockets on Israel, ending 12-hour lull

    BEIT HANOUN, Gaza Strip — Hamas said it fired five rockets at Israel late Saturday after rejecting Israel’s offer to extend a 12-hour humanitarian cease-fire by four hours, casting new doubt on international efforts to broker an end to 19 ...

    July 27, 2014

  • Death shows Ebola can spread through air travel

    ABUJA, Nigeria — Nigerian health authorities raced to stop the spread of Ebola on Saturday after a man sick with one of the world’s deadliest diseases brought it by plane to Lagos, Africa’s largest city with 21 million people. The fact ...

    July 27, 2014

  • Police ID kids killed in Philly carjacking crash

    PHILADELPHIA — Two carjackers who fled after ramming a stolen SUV into a family selling fruit for their church, killing three young siblings, were still on the run Saturday as the reward for their capture topped $100,000. The children’s ...

    July 27, 2014

  • U.S.: Russia firing across border

    KIEV, Ukraine — Russia is launching artillery attacks from its soil on Ukrainian troops and preparing to move heavier weaponry across the border, the U.S. and Ukraine charged Friday in what appeared to be an ominous escalation of the ...

    July 26, 2014

  • Small holes cause big jitters

    SEOUL, South Korea — For the developers of the world’s sixth tallest building near Seoul, a mysteriously shrinking lake and the appearance of small sinkholes in residential neighborhoods couldn’t have come at a more inopportune time. ...

    July 26, 2014

  • Secret photo victims must describe trauma for case

    BALTIMORE — Thousands of women whose genitals might have been photographed during gynecological exams can share a $190 million settlement from Johns Hopkins Health System. But they’ll have to describe their trauma before seeing any money. ...

    July 26, 2014