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Mars Together: An Update

Mars Together is a concept for the joint exploration of Mars by a combined Russian and American effort. It was started in the spring of 1994 and bore its first fruit in the summer of 1995. A Russian Co-Principle Investigator (Co-PI) and Russian hardware were incorporated into the PMIRR experiment (Pressure Modulated Infrared Radiometer) to be flown on the Mars Surveyor 1998 orbiter. Vassili Moroz of the Space Research Institute in Moscow will Co-PI with Dan McCleese of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, CA. The Institute will also provide the optical bench for the PMIRR Instrument. An additional Russian instrument is under consideration for inclusion on the Mars Surveyor 1998 lander.

An early prototype model of the Mars Together stack

Meanwhile, more extensive collaboration is under consideration for a 2001 mission. A joint Russian/American Mars Together team has been formed to study a combined U.S./Russian spacecraft launched by a Russian Molniya rocket. The exact configuration is still under study, but Russia expects to include a descent module containing the Marsokhod rover in their part of the payload.

Finally, NASA and the Russian Space Agency (RSA) agreed to start planning toward a potential sample return mission in the mid 00's. A joint science team has been charted to study this possibility. Russia's primary interest is in returned samples from Phobos, whereas the U.S. has a stronger interest in Mars itself.


The European Space Agency (ESA) has nearly completed a joint Phase A study with NASA for a 2003 mission called InterMarsNet. The plan is for a single launch of a European Ariane rocket that would carry a European orbiter and three U.S. landers. The landers would form a science network on the Martian surface. The Mars Surveyor program has been participating with ESA and would include the landers. InterMarsNet is in competition with a number of other missions for a place in ESA's queue. An ESA decision on this competition is expected in April 1996.

--Roger Bourke