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The US and European space agencies are to discuss the potential for mounting joint missions to Mars during a summit underway in Plymouth, UK.
Nasa's science chief Ed Weiler told BBC News that co-operation made sense given the agencies' shared science goals and the growing expense of such ventures.
America is now likely to play a major role in Europe's 2016 ExoMars mission.
Nasa is due to launch a nuclear-powered rover called Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) to the planet in 2011, while Europe is forging ahead with its ExoMars rover mission, due to launch in 2016. But what happens on subsequent launch opportunities in 2018 and 2020 is up for discussion.