39. 2020 Vision: Exobiology Survey of Dao Vallis
As in slide #38, the first samples from Mars will be returned by robotic spacecraft and rovers. Robot instruments are superb at collecting masses of data and can do some tasks without human help. But robots cannot yet deal with complicated problems, including geological observations or hunting for fossils. The only way to gain a deep understanding of life on Mars will be for humans to work there — for geologists, biologists, and paleontologists to use their human adaptability and capacity for seeing nature's patterns.
Pat Rawlings for NASA and the Houston Museum of Natural Science