SAN FRANCISCO - NASA plans to follow-up its Mars rover Curiosity mission with a duplicate rover that could collect and store samples for return to Earth, the agency's lead scientist said on Tuesday.
The new rover will use spare parts and engineering models developed for Curiosity, which is four months into a planned $2.5 billion, two-year mission on Mars to look for habitats that could have supported microbial life.
Replicating the rover's chassis, sky-crane landing system and other gear will enable NASA to cut the cost of the new mission to about $1.5 billion, John Grunsfeld, the US space agency's associate administrator for science, said at the American Geophysical Union conference in San Francisco.
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