|The Mars Exploration Program|
Program Overview | SCIENCE OVERVIEW | Technology Overview
The Mars Exploration Program is a science-driven program that seeks to understand whether Mars was, is, or can be, a habitable world. To find out, we need to understand how geologic, climatic, and other processes have worked to shape Mars and its environment over time, as well as how they interact today.
Image left: Mars, as seen by the Hubble Space Telescope.
Image credit: NASA and the Hubble Heritage Team
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Mars is similar to Earth in many ways, having many of the same "systems" that characterize our home world. Like Earth, Mars has an atmosphere, a hydrosphere, a cryosphere and a lithosphere. In other words, Mars has systems of air, water, ice, and geology that all interact to produce the Martian environment.
What we don't know yet is whether Mars ever developed or maintained a biosphere--an environment in which life could thrive.
Four Science Goals for Mars Exploration
The key to understanding the past, present or future potential for life on Mars can be found in the four broad, overarching goals for Mars Exploration:
Goal 1: + Determine if life ever arose on Mars
Goal 2: + Characterize the climate of Mars
Goal 3: + Characterize the geology of Mars
Goal 4: + Prepare for the human exploration of Mars