NASA Wants to Send a Rocket-Powered, Robotic Plane to Explore Mars

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ARES (Aerial Regional-Scale Environmental Surveyor)

As a general rule, when NASA flies a scientific mission all the way to Mars, we expect that mission to last for a while. For instance, the Spirit and Opportunity rovers were slated to run for three months and are still operating 6 years later. But one NASA engineer wants to send a mission all the way to the Red Planet that would last just two hours once deployed: a rocket-powered, robotic airplane that screams over the Martian landscape at more than 450 miles per hour.

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China Building Reactionless Space Thruster

China Building Reactionless Space Thruster 

While NASA is having problems reaching milestones for their new Ares rockets-the conventional rocket that will get the US to the Moon and Mars-China is actually trying to build a reactionless space thruster like the ones used by Cylon Basestars. Yes, that’s science fiction, but the engine is theoretically possible. And I don’t know about you, but anything that looks this cool and says “Magnetron” on its plans is good enough for me:

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