MARIN COUNTY, Calif. (KGO) --A Bay Area researcher who headed the team that landed the Curiosity Rover on Mars two years ago is moving ahead with another project for the Red Planet.
Marin County native Adam Steltzner developed NASA's Sky Crane system that put Curiosity on Mars. He's now working on another Mars landing.
In this mission, the Mars 2020 Rover would take samples from the surface of Mars, place them in a cache and save them for eventual return to Earth for study.
Steltzner said it could be the first phase of three separate missions. "Another mission would return to the surface with a big rocket, would take those samples, put it in the top of the rocket, and put the samples in orbit around Mars. And then a third mission would come along, collect the samples now orbiting around Mars, and bring them back to Earth," he said.
Steltzner said NASA still hasn't decided whether it will undertake the missions, but it is getting a lot of encouragement to do so.