Upcoming Missions to Mars

Due to the nature of the orbits of Earth and Mars, suitable launch windows only occur bi-annually. We are limited to these windows by: 1) the amount of time that it takes a spacecraft to traverse the difference in orbital radii of Earth and Mars, 2) the orbital velocities of Earth and Mars, 3) the distance that Mars will move around its orbit as the spacecraft traverses the space between Earth and Mars, and 4) the fact that contact with the spacecraft is lost while Mars and Earth are on opposite sides of the Sun (contact with the spacecraft is desired during arrival so that any problems can be corrected as soon as possible). The next launch window falls in August 2005 (the launch window varies depending on the speed at which the spacecraft will travel, as well as its trajectory, while in transit). Subsequent missions are designed to build on previous ones, resulting in maximum efficiency by eliminating redundant information.

The upcoming missions are designed to give us a better idea of the geological history and mineralogy of Mars in hopes of unlocking the mystery of the planet's evolution. These missions will also provide valuable information needed for the first crewed missions to Mars in the next millennium.



March 30, 2001

2001 Mars Odyssey


May/June 2003

Mars Rovers


August 2005

Reconnaissance Orbiter


Beyond 2005

Future Missions

2007 and Beyond

Back to Mars Exploration Homepage

Mars Home

NSSDCA Planetary Science Homepage

NSSDCA Homepage

NASA Homepage

Dr. David R. Williams, dave.williams@nasa.gov
NSSDCA, Mail Code 690.1
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
Greenbelt, MD 20771

NASA Official: Dr. David R. Williams, david.r.williams@nasa.gov
Original Page Author: Malcolm J. Shaw, Malcolm_Shaw@pcp.ca
Last Updated: 08 February 2016, DRW