SLUG: SE-SR-Mars Exploration Program DATE: NOTE NUMBER:


TYPE=Special English Feature



BYLINE=Jerilyn Watson



EDITOR=Shelley Gollust


This is ________with the VOA Special English Science Report.

The American space agency NASA has announced new plans for exploring Mars. The plans call for six major launches to the red planet. The agency will try to find evidence of water on Mars. It will try to learn the history of rocks on the planet. And it may learn if life has ever existed there.

The six launches are part of a fifteen-year exploration program. It calls for several kinds of devices and equipment to observe and test conditions on Mars. France and Italy are among countries taking part in the program.

NASA officials had announced last summer that the agency would launch three spacecraft to Mars by the end of Two-Thousand-Three. These launches will take place as planned. NASA will launch a vehicle that can orbit Mars next year. It will launch two landing craft in Two-Thousand-Three.

The new plan also calls for the launch of a more powerful orbiting vehicle in Two-Thousand-Five. It will photograph small surface details on Mars. Then a traveling laboratory will be sent up as early as Two-Thousand Seven. It will measure and test rocks and soil taken from the planet.

Space officials also are planning to launch scientific balloons or small landing craft to observe Mars. The scientific community will offer designs for these devices. The first is to be launched in Two-Thousand-Seven.

The plans by NASA postpone the launch of a robot vehicle to Two-Thousand-Eleven at the earliest. Officials say by that time, other spacecraft will have found the best place for the robot to land.

The robot vehicle is being designed to collect material from the surface of Mars and return it to earth. This mechanical device can obey commands from controllers on Earth. Its launch will mark the first attempt to send and return equipment that can collect soil and rocks from the Mars surface.

The technologies for the new Mars exploration program are expected to cost at least four-hundred-fifty-million dollars each year for five years.

The new exploration program follows the loss of two Mars spacecraft last year. NASA lost a Mars orbiting spacecraft and a landing craft. The orbiter burned in the Mars atmosphere or crashed into the planet. The landing craft disappeared as it entered the Mars atmosphere.

This VOA Special English Science Report was written by Jerilyn Watson. This is ______________.