The Space Biology Program is managed by the Space Life and Physical Sciences Research and Applications Division in NASA's Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate at the agency's headquarters in Washington, D.C. He had the added perspective of working on the two Viking landers, the first USA mission to successfully land spacecraft on the Martian surface and send pictures back to Earth.
He said NASA seeks to reach its goal through sustainable means along with global and commercial partners. NASA is now reaching out to the commercial sector for ideas on landers that can take astronauts to and from the surface. Thanks to these efforts, Opportunity survived on the surface of Mars for 5,498 days, almost 60 times its original specifications.
Those payloads will be a mix of science and technology development investigations, from a near-infrared spectrometer to a test of stereo imaging to analyze plumes created during landing.
So commercial lunar partners will work on how to mine and recycle resources on the Moon and make them available for future mission use. The nine are eligible to compete for a combined total of $2.6 billion in task orders over the next 10 years.
Fast is the operative word.
NASA spent a long time looking for the flawless landing site for InSight, while the lander also spent several weeks searching for a rock-free area to place its instruments. "We do not expect that every one of those launches or every one of those landings will be successful".
"For us, if we have any wish, we'd like to fly this calendar year", he said.
NASA will also reveal where they intend to put the robotic probe, though it is most likely to stake out a claim on the same south polar region China and India are exploring. Opportunity studied the first cross-bedded sandstones ever observed on another planet.
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine cautioned that does not mean a flight will actually take place in 2019. When the weather cooperates, we end up with many spectacular views in Iowa.
Encouraged by the popularity of the Mars Pathfinder mission in 1997 - which included the shoebox sized Sojourner rover (the first successful Mars rover) - mission planners at NASA and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) had chose to release all the pictures taken by the Mars Exploration Rovers to the public.
The US has earlier announced its Deep Space Gateway program with global participation, which envisages building a lunar-orbit space station to receive spacecrafts from the Earth on a regular basis. She also determined that the water that has since altered these sandstones must have been highly acidic to reproduce the elemental and mineralogical composition of this unit.