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Can Athena Cut A New Path To Mars SpaceDaily

The decision we’ve been waiting for has been reached — NASA will launch a copy of Cornell University’s long-range “Athena” rover to Mars in 2003, rather than Lockheed Martin’s proposal for a second Mars Global Surveyor orbiter with a new set of instruments. Scientifically, it was a very close decision — as even Steven Squyres, the head of the Athena scientific team, admits — but certainly this mission is more likely to interest the general public. However, that same public popularity has apparently led to a sudden startling twist in the mission selection process that began with NASA’s abrupt postponement of the press conference at which the selection was to be announced. The reason for this delay was due to the fact that NASA is suddenly considering a totally unexpected plan to launch a second, duplicate Mars rover to another landing site also in 2003.