Budget woes force NASA to redraw plans to Mars

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(AP) – NASA is racing to come up with a new, cheaper road map to Mars.

The space agency said Friday it’s seeking ideas from scientists and engineers around the globe for robotic missions it can do in 2018 and beyond.

Earlier this year, NASA pulled out of a partnership with the Europeans due to budget cuts. The duo had been working on missions targeted for 2016 and 2018. Those would have been the first step toward returning Martian soil and rocks back to Earth.

NASA officials say returning samples is still a priority, but a reboot is necessary to get closer to fulfilling the country’s goal of sending humans to Mars in the 2030s.

A newly formed team will cull through the ideas and come up with mission options by summer.

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