Mars: The next steps



In 1993, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) began the Mars Surveyor program to fly small, focused missions to Mars at every launch opportunity (2-year intervals) using the “faster, better, cheaper” approach championed by administrator Dan Goldin. NASA's plans are now under intense scrutiny because of the loss of all spacecraft arriving at Mars within the past six months. Panels commissioned to study the failures have released reports enumerating technical, managerial, and program problems and made recommendations to address these lapses. Recent events also provide an opportunity to reconsider the larger picture of Mars exploration: What are the program's goals within the context of both the scientific community and the society that supports it, and what is the best strategy to achieve those goals?