NASA has big plans for its Mars Exploration Program.

As it decides the future of one of the two rovers exploring the planet, the agency is looking to the launch of the newest generation of robotic explorer next year.

In addition, NASA tells CNN Radio that the agency is close to a deal to merge its Mars program with that of the European Space Agency, a big step toward manned missions.

NASA’s Mars rover program is now heading into its sixth year. The rovers Spirit and Opportunity were launched in 2004 and landed on opposite sides of Mars for what was to be a 90-day exploration mission.

Almost six years and a wealth of information later, the rovers were still ranging across the planet until recently, sending back data to researchers on Earth.

Read the rest at CNN

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