NASA’s first Landing Sites/Exploration Zones Workshop for Human Missions to the Surface of Mars will be held Oct. 27-30 at the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston. The agency is hosting the workshop to collect proposals for locations on Mars that would be of high scientific research value while also providing natural resources to enable human explorers to land, live and work safely on the Red Planet.
The first human explorers on the journey to Mars are expected to be quite mobile, with the ability to explore long distances from their habitat, a region being called an “Exploration Zone.” In current planning activities, NASA assumes an Exploration Zone radius of approximately 60 miles (100 km).
NASA plans to use existing assets at Mars, such as the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) and the Odyssey spacecraft, to support the selection process of potential Exploration Zones. However, the life expectancy of MRO and Odyssey are limited. NASA is eager to take advantage of the remaining operational years of those Martian imagers to gather high resolution maps of potential Exploration Zones while the spacecraft remain operational.