How countries are working together on a Mars mission of the next decade revealed
Washington, Dec 10: Mars is about to get very busy. The American space agency Nasa has just landed its latest InSight lander on the red planet.
The consortium has now published a roadmap to explore space with a manned mission to Mars as the common driving objective. Space agencies from 14 countries, including India, formed the International Space Exploration Coordination Group in 2011. China, India, Japan, the United Arab Emirates and a joint European-Russian project are all planning their own missions to the planet in 2020.
Here's a peek into the way forward:
Mars 2020 Rover - Nasa
In July or August 2020, Nasa will launch its long awaited Mars 2020 rover mission. What's also unique about the 2020 rover is that Nasa fitted it with a "Mars Helicopter Scout". This "small autonomous rotorcraft" will be strapped to the belly of the rover, and will eventually launch on Mars - snapping visuals from the air, where rovers can't reach.
China 2020 Probe
China's space agency also has a planned rover mission, expected to launch in July or August 2020. Like other missions, China's main objective is to search for life - current or past.
Emirates Mars Mission:
The United Arab Emirates is also hoping to launch its first interplanetary mission in 2021. A spacecraft is set to arrive on the red planet to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the country's founding.
Growing Tomatoes on the Moon and Mars
A SpaceX launched a rather unusual spacecraft to orbit - a small satellite that will attempt to grow tomatoes while spinning to replicate the gravity on the Moon and Mars. This particular microsatellite, packed with tomato seeds, is designed to help us prepare to one day grow plants on other worlds. If we want humans to live long-term on the Moon or Mars, they're going to need to be somewhat self-sustainable, so proving they can actually feed themselves is pretty crucial.