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Robots, Not Humans, Are the New Space Explorers

“Since the days of Apollo, the greatest adventures in space have been these robots that have gone all over the solar system,” says Emily Lakdawalla, a self-described planetary evangelist at the Planetary Society. By “these robots,” Lakdawalla means the various robotic probes that have flown past planets, moons, and asteroids — orbiting some, landing on others. Astronauts do still explore space. The International Space Station is a remarkable piece of hardware. Humans have been living on it for nearly two decades. But as amazing as the space station is, excitement about it is relatively muted. Lakdawalla says it would be inspiring to see an astronaut land on Mars, but in the meantime, inspiration is coming from NASA’s Mars rovers.

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