Over the past two decades, NASA and the Mars Exploration Program (MEP) have been making progressive steps to better understand the planet and search for past and present life on Mars through a series of orbiters, landers, and rovers. The Mars Exploration Program is now at an inflection point at which it must adapt to the changing space business environment, address critical/aging infrastructure, and prepare for a human presence at Mars.
The future plan for the Mars Exploration Program (2023-2043) focuses on three high-level co-equal program science themes: Explore the Potential for Martian Life, Support Human Exploration of Mars, and Discover Dynamic Mars. To achieve the goals within these themes, the MEP has outlined four main initiatives:
- Expand opportunities to explore Mars through competed, lower-cost, and more frequent flight opportunities.
- Strengthen and broaden infrastructure at Mars to enable a diverse set of missions and opportunities for partnerships.
- Invest in key technologies to enable expanded access to, and scientific understanding of, Mars.
- Enable participation in Mars exploration for all communities.
These initiatives aim to make Mars exploration more accessible and inclusive to the broader community, while also addressing the scientific and technological challenges of exploring the planet. The program will also focus on international and commercial partnerships, as well as public participation in Mars exploration through immersive technologies and new models for community collaboration.