"Things certainly are pretty grim right now in terms of the healthy planetary exploration program we've had for the past decade and a half," Banerdt said. "If you look 15 years before, in the 1980s and starting out in the 1990s, it was pretty thin pickings. The last 15 years have been pretty nice."
Lorenz also described this as a "privileged era of planetary exploration" for NASA and its international partners.
"Now there's a spacecraft at Venus, another one maybe coming back to Venus, one at Mercury, three working orbiters at Mars, one working rover, another rover just about to go, a couple of things at the moon, and Cassini is still going great" at Saturn, Lorenz said. "There's a lot going on; it's great."
The adventures of such robotic explorers may not fully satisfy Trekkies who long to see the adventures of a Captain Kirk and his crew happening today. But they might be surprised to see what astronauts and robonauts are doing two centuries from now.
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