NASA still faces several hurdles in its quest to launch a human mission to Mars by the 2030s, officials said Tuesday.
NASA officials spoke at an event commemorating the one-year anniversary of the Mars landing of Curiosity, a NASA robot. The Mars rover has made some significant discoveries since it survived “seven minutes of terror” before its landing, including an ancient streambed that suggests water flowed freely on Mars billions of years ago and may have supported life.
The next step is to send astronauts on a two-way trip to Mars to further study its surface, determine whether life once existed there and prepare for potential habitation, said Sam Scimemi, director of NASA’s International Space Station Program.
“It takes a year or more for a robot to do what a person can do in a matter of days,” he said.
However, a human Mars mission presents technological and financial challenges, the officials said.
NASA scientists continue to study methods for landing a 40-ton spacecraft traveling at a speed of 13,000 miles per hour on Mars. The Mars rover weighed just one ton.
“We’re landing a car right now,” said Prasun Desai, acting director of strategic integration for NASA’s Space Technology ...