After pulling out of a planned Mars partnership with the European Space Agency earlier this year due to budget cuts, NASA has issued an open appeal to scientists and engineers to propose alternative plans for sending spacecraft to the planet, AFP reports.
"We're moving quickly to develop options for future Mars exploration missions and pathways," John Grunsfeld, associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, said in a statement. "As part of this process, community involvement, including international, is essential for charting the new agency-wide strategy for our future Mars exploration efforts."
Beginning on Friday, NASA began accepting ideas and scientific abstracts for the future Mars missions. After sifting through the submissions, selected abstracts will be presented at a June workshop hosted by the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston.
The United States had planned to partner with the European Space Agency on a project called ExoMars that would have sent an orbiter to Mars in 2016 and two rovers to land on the planet two years later, according to AFP.
The fiscal year 2013 budget proposed by President Obama for the agency's Mars exploration program is about 40 percent less than what was budgeted for the current fiscal year, according NASA budget documents.