NASA released the summary report of the Mars Program Planning Group (MPPG) yesterday (September 25, 2012).
This report provides options for future Mars science mission and focuses specifically on potential Mars sample return missions.
Mars sample return is widely regarded as a critical prerequisite to an eventual human mission to Mars.
This report only provides potential options, however. It is not a a blueprint for the future of NASA Mars exploration and NASA does not currently have the budget to launch any of these (or similar) missions.
Explore Mars calls on the Administration and Congress to provide sufficient funds to continue our extremely successful Mars program. We also hope that NASA, Congress, and the Administration will investigate every reasonable option to achieve these missions in a cost effective and timely manner.
“With the remarkable landing of the Curiosity rover, it would be a substantial blow to planetary science if we decided not to fund landers in 2018 and beyond,” commented Explore Mars Executive Director, Chris Carberry. “We strongly believe that our officials and the candidates should support not only a robust robotic Mars program, but also a commitment to human missions to Mars by 2030.”
The MPPG summary report can be found here
If you have a hard time keeping track of all the acronyms, slide 66 (see below) provides you with all the letter soup explanations: