Washington: U.S. space agency NASA announced Tuesday its plans for a robust multi-year Mars exploration program, including a new robotic science rover set to launch in 2020.
The future rover development and design will be based on the Mars Science Laboratory architecture that successfully carried the Curiosity rover to the Martian surface this summer.
It will ensure mission costs and risks are as low as possible, while still delivering a highly capable rover with a proven landing system.
The mission is estimated to cost about 1.5 billion U.S. dollars. But scientists haven't spell out exactly what the rover would try to accomplish on Mars.
NASA said that it's another step toward eventually sending astronauts to the red planet in the 2030s.
"The Obama administration is committed to a robust Mars exploration program," NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said in a statement.
"With this next mission, we're ensuring America remains the world leader in the exploration of the Red Planet, while taking another significant step toward sending humans there in the 2030s," Bolden added.