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Beset by budget cuts, US Mars scientists look to possible 2018 mission

It is the job of a federal bureaucrat to put a good face on bad budget news, and on Monday, NASA science chief John Grunsfeld, just two months into his job, did his best to buck up a reeling Mars community. He announced that the agency would re-design its Mars exploration programme, and that the new architecture would include input — and money — from the human programme as well as the space technology division. Grunsfeld tasked Orlando Figueroa, the former deputy director for space and technology at Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, with heading up a seven or eight person committee, and to start developing mission concepts in the next month. 

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