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Aging infrastructure currently orbiting Mars could threaten the viability of future missions to the red planet. That is according to a new report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM), which warns that concludes that the loss of even a single Mars orbiter – essential for communicating with Martian rovers – could make it difficult to support planned sample-return missions to the red planet.

The report – Visions into Voyages for Planetary Science in the Decade 2013-2022: A Midterm Review – provides a series of recommendations to ensure NASA fulfills the goals of the present 10-year survey for planetary science, which began in 2013. Many of the recommendations revolve around Mars including the continued planning and implementation of a Mars sample-return mission. The report also calls on NASA to completely reassess its Mars programme from developing a strategic plan and budget to implementing a new management structure and establishing partnerships – including with commercial firms.

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