According to Jim Green, director of NASA’s planetary division, future astronauts will be setting foot on the Red Planet in twenty or thirty years time. He spoke at a news conference at agency headquarters in Washington, DC, today (Aug. 6) as NASA celebrated the one-year anniversary of its Curiosity rover’s historic landing on the Martian surface.
“Our destiny is to leave lower Earth orbit and trek out into the solar system,” Green said. “We believe that humans can land on Mars in 20, perhaps 30, years from now.”
According to NASA chief Charles Bolden, Curiosity has laid important groundwork for humans to visit Mars. Citing the “skycrane” landing system that deposited the robotic ATV on the Martian surface a year ago, Bolden said the success in landing a heavier payload on Mars with better precision brings scientists closer to developing the technology necessary for human missions to the Red Planet.