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    Varied Ideas about What to do on Missions to Mars

    July 5, 2012; 7:40 AM ET

    Wow, it seems like a lot of people have similar ideas to I do about Mars... that there may be life on it or life was once there and it may be worthwhile to try to find it.

    NASA called upon scientists and engineers to help plan a new strategy to explore Mars. It resulted in almost double the amount of expected submissions with over 400 unique and bold ideas.

    These ideas were submitted to the Concepts and Approaches for Mars Exploration Workshop in Houston last month, which was put together to try to get updated information as well as different and new ideas for NASA's Mars Exploration Program. These ideas came from a wide range of groups and people including professional researchers, undergraduate and graduate students, NASA centers, federal laboratories, industry and international partner organizations.

    This "motley crew" will continue to meet to narrow down the ideas selected. Near-term ideas will be taken into consideration for early mission planning in the 2018-2024 timeframe, while mid- to longer-term ideas will inform program-level architecture planning for 2026 and beyond. The ultimate goal is to send humans to Mars sometime in the 2030s.

    You can leave your comments, as well as be part of a community with discussions on any astronomy subject, such as light pollution, when you join AccuWeather's Astronomy Facebook fan page by clicking here.

    We are now well over 3,600 likes on Facebook. Please tell your friends about this Facebook page and blog and have them weigh in on some exciting issues. We encourage open discussion and will never criticize any idea, and no negative conversation will be allowed. We are really trying to make this Facebook page THE place to go to for any astronomy news or discussion, and your help would be GREATLY appreciated!

    The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of AccuWeather, Inc. or AccuWeather.com

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