This image shows a subsurface explorer on the surface of Mars (this is an artist's rendition). Such subsurface explorers would help us look for water and organic material below the surface of Mars. A "robotic mole" like this one would also test to see what minerals make up the Martian interior. One of the proposals does involve a subsurface explorer that would dive through the Martian polar ice caps.
Click on image for full size
Courtesy of NASA/JPL
News story originally written on June 18, 2001
43 Scout missions were proposed to NASA. 10 were selected. These 10 are competing to see which missions will be included as future Scout missions to Mars. May the best robots, gliders, rovers, orbiters or landers win!
The 10 proposals that made it this far will receive 6 months of funding to do further investigation for their proposed mission. The Scout missions that are sent to Mars in the coming years (the first being launched in 2007) will join the Martian fleet including the 2001 Mars Odyssey, twin rovers which will land on Mars in 2003, a science orbiter, a mobile laboratory and a return sample mission.
The 10 proposals are really different! One mission would involve three gliders that would investigate the walls of Valles Marineris. Another would place 24 weather stations across the surface of Mars. Still another would have a probe that could dive down through the Martian polar ice caps!
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