In the Afterglow of InSight’s Success, NASA Should Announce Its Next Steps at Mars
In late August 2012, just weeks after the spectacular landing of the Curiosity rover on Mars, NASA capitalized on success and announced InSight as its next mission to the Red Planet. NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden made the connection explicit:
Later that year, the Curiosity team shared their initial, exciting science results at the December meeting of the American Geophysical Union. At the same meeting, the associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate John Grunsfeld used the opportunity to announce Mars 2020, a flagship-class rover that would take the first step in returning samples from Mars to Earth.

"The recent successful landing of the Curiosity rover has galvanized public interest in space exploration and today's announcement makes clear there are more exciting Mars missions to come." 
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That announcement, in 2012, was the last time NASA committed to a new Mars mission. InSight's landing provides a rare opportunity for NASA: a Mars success has briefly captured popular and political attention. Stunning pictures of a new Martian landscape have made it to the pages of major news outlets. Millions of people watched its landing around the world. And in perhaps their first time agreeing on anything, President Trump and the New York Times Editorial Board both sang InSight's praises. As the President's budget proposal for fiscal year 2020 is being finalized, now is the time for NASA to secure a new commitment for the next step at the Red Planet: Mars sample return. Recall that InSight is a "small" planetary mission compared to the technical and scientific challenges of Mars Sample Return. No other nation has yet achieved a successful landing on Mars, much less attempted to return samples. A clear political commitment now would send an unmistakable signal that the United States intends to continue its leadership at Mars.
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After the Success of InSight, It’s Time for NASA to Commit to Mars Sample Return
Article in The Planetary Society, by Casey Dreier • November 28, 2018
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