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The next frontier for planetary and human exploration

The surface of Mars has been well mapped and characterized, yet the subsurface — the most likely place to find signs of extant or extinct life and a repository of useful resources for human exploration — remains unexplored. In the near future this is set to change.

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Fig. 1: Sounding and drilling capabilities on Mars.


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We thank the Keck Institute for Space Studies (KISS) for kick-starting this work through a KISS Workshop held 12–16 February 2018 at the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA, and the Canadian Institute for Advanced Studies (CIFAR) for allowing this discussion to expand with the Earth 4D workshop. Part of this work was carried out at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, under a contract with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

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Correspondence to V. Stamenković.

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Stamenković, V., Beegle, L.W., Zacny, K. et al. The next frontier for planetary and human exploration. Nat Astron 3, 116–120 (2019).

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