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Environment & Science

The road less expensive: NASA redrawing map to Mars

A model of the Curiosity, NASA's mobile robotic laboratory
A model of the Curiosity, NASA's mobile robotic laboratory
NASA/Paul E. Alers

Forced into a less scenic route by budgetary constraints, NASA announced that it will be redrawing its map to Mars to cut down on mission costs.

With the intention of sending humans to Mars in the 2030s -- and a quicker goal of returning Martian soil and rock samples to Earth --  the space agency issued a call to arms of brains, asking scientists and engineers on this planet to come forward with robotic mission ideas.

A collaboration with European collegues to bring back the far out samples was aborted by NASA earlier this year due to budget cuts. 

Hoping for a determination by summer, a new team is being formed to assess idea proposals, mission priorities, and options.

NASA recently hit another rough turn when it issued a startling report in March detailing a universe of trouble in the agency's security department.

In a two-year period there were over 5,000 information breaches -- including serious threats at the Pasadena-based Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

The study also revealed the theft or loss of dozens of mobile devices, including an un-encrypted laptop containing the command and control code algorithms used to operate the International Space Station (ISS).


Lisa Brenner can be reached via Twitter @lisa_brenner