NASA is shaping plans for the next decade to dot Mars with highly capable robotic craft, including a probe that rockets back to Earth samples of Martian terrain. Recent exploratory talks between NASA and Russian scientists may also lead to joint experiments using Mars penetrators and other devices to expand exploration of the red planet. Space agency Mars planners, however, currently face a cloudy financial picture beyond 2009. But building on the output of data gleaned by spacecraft already at Mars will demand fresh funds. Images NASA’s “Mars Czar”, Orlando Figueroa, Director of the Mars Exploration Office at NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C. CREDIT: Bill Ingalls More Stories Russia Proposes Sending Team to Mars Water Ice Discovery on Mars May Be ‘Tip of an Iceberg’ Mars Airplane Soars on Earth. Flapping Robotic Insects Could Extend Range of Rover Missions Gearing Up to Harvest Mars’ Water Resource In an exclusive SPACE.com interview, NASA’s “Mars Czar”, Orlando Figueroa, Director of the Mars Exploration Office at NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C., discussed the challenges ahead.