Ren Wicks/NASA
  • NASA Dreams of Mars

    In front of a fully-fueled ascent vehicle waiting to return them to Earth, the Mars crew salutes all of the people and nations of the world that made the journey possible in a July 1997 artist drawing for NASA.
    John Frassanito/NASA
  • NASA Dreams of Mars

    In this 1997 artist's concept, the completed outpost on Mars includes the crew's two-story lander habitat, inflatable laboratory and unpressurized rover.
    John Frassanito/NASA
  • NASA Dreams of Mars

    An artist's concept from 1990 shows the landing of the first human mission to Mars in the year 2019, where astronauts conduct scientific observations, recording wind speed and planetary features. A dust storm is approaching the landing site. The Martian moons of Phobos and Deimos are visible in the twilight sky. The Mars excursion vehicle in the background serves as crew quarters for the mission.
    Ren Wicks/NASA
  • NASA Dreams of Mars

    A 1985 artist's concept of possible exploration programs. On Phobos, the innermost moon of Mars and likely location for extraterrestrial resources, a mobile propellant-production plant lumbers across the irregular surface. Using a nuclear reactor, the large tower melts into the surface, generating steam, which is converted into liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen.
    Pat Rawlings/JSC/NASA
  • NASA Dreams of Mars

    This 1985 artist's concept depicts hardware that might be involved if manned visits ever occur on Mars, like the Mars explorer, a traverse vehicle, a habitation module, a power module, greenhouses, lightweight crane and trailer, launch and landing facility, water well pumping station, a maintenance garage, tunneling device, water well drilling rig, large dish antennae, even a Mars airplane.
    Pat Rawlings/JSC/NASA
  • NASA Dreams of Mars

    This is a Feb. 1995 artist's concept of possible exploration programs. Long after the Mars sample return rover has fulfilled its mission requirements, two explorers replace the robot's worn wheel motors. The refurbished machine, instead of operating autonomously, could be teleoperated by orbital or surface controllers.
    Pat Rawlings/JSC/NASA
  • NASA Dreams of Mars

    In this 1988 artist's concept of a 1984 mission to Mars, a pair of rovers (Vikings on Wheels) would follow up and extend hypothetical 1976 Martian explorations. The rovers would gather scientific data from several wide-ranging areas and send it to the mother orbiter for relay to Earth. Two pairs of rovers each could traverse as much as three miles daily and help one another, as needed.
    NASA
  • NASA Dreams of Mars

    The amount of mass that must be lifted from Earth for human missions to Mars can be reduced by as much as 50 percent if a structure called an aerobrake is employed. The Mars landing vehicle in this 1988 artist's drawing uses a "molly bolt" design that allows the aerobrake to be deployed in a flat shape for atmospheric entry and landing, and then retracted to form a smooth conical shape for ascent.
    Pat Rawlings/JSC/NASA
  • NASA Dreams of Mars

    This 1996 artist's concept is called 20/20 Vision. Did life ever exist on Mars. If so, the best evidence may be fossils preserved in the rocks. Geologists and biologists will one day explore Mars, piecing together the history of the planet and perhaps its ancient life.
    Pat Rawlings/JSC/NASA
  • NASA Dreams of Mars

    A 1991 artist's concept of possible exploration programs, such as the first humans on Mars revisiting the landing site of the Viking 2 Lander in order to study the effects that the Martian surface and atmosphere have had on the spacecraft.
    Pat Rawlings/JSC/NASA
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