The space agency's next steps at Mars are geared toward mounting a sample-return mission, which is widely viewed as the best way to look for signs of Red Planet life. Such signs are perhaps more likely to be found in material pulled from the subsurface, so some researchers hope NASA's first Martian sample-return effort won't be its last.
"While I'm very much interested in a surface sample-return to get us over this hump of doing it, of course I immediately want to go on and start sampling more cryptic materials in lava-tube caves," said astrobiologist and cave scientist Penny Boston, of the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology in Socorro. "I would love that."
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