Mars mission in trouble

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NASA's Mars missions are currently facing significant challenges. The Mars Sample Return (MSR) mission, which aims to bring back samples from Mars for analysis on Earth, is experiencing budgetary issues. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), which is a key player in the MSR campaign, is eliminating nearly 600 workers due to funding shortfalls. The projected budget for MSR has significantly increased, alarming some members of Congress who have sought to control MSR's costs. The Senate allocated just $300 million for MSR in its fiscal year 2024 appropriations bill, which is significantly less than the estimated cost of the mission1. In addition to the MSR mission, the Ingenuity Helicopter mission has also ended after three years on Mars. The helicopter, which proved that powered, controlled flight on Mars was possible, lost contact with the Perseverance rover, which serves as a communications relay for the rotorcraft. Damage to the rotor blade was revealed several days later2. Furthermore, an independent review panel has criticized the MSR mission, highlighting a series of technical problems and a runaway budget. The mission, set to launch in 2028, is now in doubt due to these issues. The original price tag of $4 billion for the MSR has risen to an estimated $5.3 billion10. Despite these challenges, other Mars missions, such as the Curiosity rover mission, continue to operate successfully. For instance, Curiosity recently completed a ~13m drive and is currently focused on studying sand features on Mars5.
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