This is an artist's depiction of the Mars 2003 rover and lander.
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Courtesy of NASA

NASA Will Roam Around Mars with Rover
News story originally written on August 5, 2000

NASA has announced the next mission to visit the planet Mars. The Mars Exploration Program Rover will start its journey in 2003 and should reach the Red Planet in 2004. This rover will be a more advanced Sojourner Rover, which visited Mars in 1997, as part of the Pathfinder mission.

The rover mission was chosen over an orbiter mission. The rover will land on the planet and search around for evidence of water. The orbiter would have stayed in space while imaging Mars. Either mission will greatly increase our knowledge of Earth's neighbor. Now that the rover mission was chosen, scientists must decide if one or two rovers will be sent.

"We are evaluating the implications of a two-rover option," Dr. Weiler said. Dr. Weiler is the scientist that made the decision. "I intend to make a decision in the next few weeks so that, if the decision is to proceed with two rovers, we can meet the development schedule for a 2003 launch."

Scientists are very excited about this newest rover. Sojourner was only able to travel 100 meters over its entire mission. But the new rover will travel 100 meters each day. We will now study a lot more of the Mars surface and will hopefully find evidence that water once existed on Mars.

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