Invaders From Earth

Will any of these robots win a trip to Mars?

Click here for an interactive version. David Clark

Mars has been sailed by, orbited, crashed into and bounced on, wheeled over, scooped up, shoved around, drilled, cored, and baked. And engineers have dreamed up many more ways of studying the planet than have been tried so far.

Over the decades, many inventive spacecraft have never made it past the blueprint stage. But with federal money tight, these concepts may have found a new lease on life: NASA has called for cheaper ways to robotically explore Mars, and scientists are reevaluating past proposals.

Click here to see some of the spacecraft designs that may one day make it to Mars.

Leonard David is a space journalist living in Golden, Colorado.

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