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Mepag Chair Report, A glimpse at future plans
Redstone
post Nov 30 2005, 04:35 AM
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The Chair's report from the November meeting of the Mars Exploration Program Analysis Group is now online at http://mepag.jpl.nasa.gov/meeting/nov-05/index.html.

Here are some features on their draft exploration plan after MSL in 2009.

2011/2013 Scout and Mars Science Orbiter with telecommunications capability
2016 Mid-rovers or Astrobiology Field Laboratory
2018 Scout
2020 Planetary Evolution and Meteorology Network
2022 MSR Orbiter with Telecom
2024 Mobile MSR

I'm not sure how fixed this is, or how much it dovetails with NASA HQ's plans, (pretty close, I'd guess) but it gives us something to chew on until Bruce's Astronomy article comes out. smile.gif

Note that the 2011 window is now shared with a new orbiter with "telecom capability" This sounds like the return of MTO, with science instruments added. Any ideas what instruments are at the top of the wish list for such an orbiter? If it launched in 2011, it could still play a big part in the MSL mission and be ready for the next rover in 2016. Remember by 2011 MRO will be six years old.

The Astrobio lab is an MSL scale rover, while the "Mid-rover" is intermediate between MER and MSL.

Mars Sample Return has been pushed out to 2022/24. This seems a pessimistic "who knows?" timeframe to me. A manned mission could be on the way by 2030, if the Vision for Space Exploration pans out. (A BIG "if", I know.) Sample return will have to be completed before humans go, I would imagine.
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MahFL
post Nov 30 2005, 01:20 PM
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From the Nov 21 2005 MEPAG Chair's Report...




"The next MEPAG Meeting is tentatively planned for April 2005 and will take place in the Pasdena, CA, area. Specific dates are being explored."

Maybe they have a secret time machine ?
smile.gif
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Guest_BruceMoomaw_*
post Dec 1 2005, 05:12 AM
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Aw. You gave away the ending...

OK, let me squeal a bit more. That "clue" I mentioned yesterday as to how the Mars program has been revised is simply that, with the 2009 Mars Telecom Orbiter cancelled, Mars Reconaissance Orbiter's lifetime as a com relay for landers will wear out at some point -- so they need another combined science/relay orbiter. If MRO succeeds, the second Scout will go in 2011 and the new orbiter in 2013; if MRO fails, an MRO replacement will fly in 2011 and the Scout in 2013. (For just this reason, the Announcement of Opportunity for the new Scout won't be released until next March -- by which time we should know whether MRO has made it into Mars orbit and is aerobraking properly.) While they've now added a direct-to-Earth com link to the 2009 MSL rover, I also wonder whether the real reaction to an MRO failure might be to fly the MRO replacement in 2009 and delay MSL until 2011. Hopefully that won't happen, since MRO up to now is working virtually flawlessly -- the only trouble has been getting all the kinks out of the new high-speed ground data link from the DSN antennas to JPL.

As for what the scientific subject of that new orbiter is likely to be, the exact nature of the 2016 mission (there are at least three candidates, and I suspect four), and the reasons for the latest delay in the sample-return mission -- well, children, I continue to hold those cards close for now. (If I keep blabbing, I won't have anything left to reveal in the damn article.)
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mars loon
post Dec 3 2005, 03:26 PM
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QUOTE (BruceMoomaw @ Dec 1 2005, 05:12 AM)
Aw.  You gave away the ending...

OK, let me squeal a bit more  ...

(If I keep blabbing, I won't have anything left to reveal in the damn article.)
*

Bruce, Its OK to keep blabbing. We wont tell anyone !!!

Otherwise its great to see there is finally a follow-on plan. Although it is insufficiently ambitious due to funding constraints

My opinion is definately go for MSL in 2009, NO DELAY. And a second in 2011. And some replacement for MTO capability is clearly required soon.
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Guest_BruceMoomaw_*
post Dec 3 2005, 11:45 PM
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They haven't got the money for that -- the previous plans to keep steadily raising the MEP's funding are now gone with the wind. It will rise to about $600 million per year in 2007, and then level off at that point -- and they've had to cut a total of $210 million out of the funding for the last two years AFTER Congress had approved it.
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gndonald
post Dec 23 2005, 01:50 PM
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QUOTE (Redstone @ Nov 30 2005, 12:35 PM)
2020 Planetary Evolution and Meteorology Network


I'm immediately interested in this one, since it looks like a revival of the MESUR concept, namely landing several landers on the surface at the same time, rather than simply one or two.

Here's hoping they manage to pull it off.
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Guest_BruceMoomaw_*
post Dec 23 2005, 09:11 PM
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That's exactly what it is -- in fact, MEPAG's increasingly shrill demands for a Mars network mission are largely what motivated NASA to stick it into the program. The Network's central purpose would be to make seismic and weather measurements, although technological improvements may allow the addition of other experiments.

In this connection, see two of the new AGU abstracts. http://www.agu.org/cgi-bin/SFgate/SFgate?&...P51C-0934" briefly describes JPL's new design work on such a small network lander. http://www.agu.org/cgi-bin/SFgate/SFgate?&...P41A-0919" describes the "GEP" package which the ESA plans to add to ExoMars (and, hopefully, land later elsewhere on Mars with various techniques). Its instrumentation sounds like an exact repeat of Netlander's, except that the camera is replaced by a heat flow probe (which I presume would be implanted on the ExoMars mission by the rover's drill).
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JRehling
post Dec 24 2005, 01:07 AM
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QUOTE (Redstone @ Nov 29 2005, 08:35 PM)
[...]
2024 Mobile MSR
[...]
Mars Sample Return has been pushed out to 2022/24. This seems a pessimistic "who knows?" timeframe to me.
*


Has anyone ever waited for a new version of some computer/electronics product to come out, and ended up delaying indefinitely, ever waiting for a better version? I'm starting to get that feeling with Mars Sample Return. Earlier missions establish better and better assessments of where the first return(s) should come from, but this process could continue forever. What is the criterion for deciding that we know enough to validate spending the coin on MSR?

At some point, we'll have flown just about every surface-probing instrument there is to fly. With the exception of arbitrary varieties of radar satellites, that end seems within reach. All told, I think one of the biggest coins waiting to drop in Mars exploration is going to be the *analysis* of THEMIS data. When we have a good global map in THEMIS's spectral and thermal-inertia capabilities, there's going to be a lag in interpreting that massive database.

I'd like to see something along the lines of a return craft in Mars orbit that awaits surface samples that come up and rendezvous with it from multiple surface locations. A big expenditure is going to be moving the spacecraft mass from Mars orbit to Earth entry -- at the risk of a few major failure points, it would be nice thing to get multiple samples back for the least cost.
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nprev
post Dec 24 2005, 01:38 AM
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I wonder if some of the recent MSR recalcitrance is at least partially due to the Genesis hard landing. There might be a little more optimism if Stardust makes it down okay, but nevertheless MSR will still be a much more challenging engineering proposition... unsure.gif


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A few will take this knowledge and use this power of a dream realized as a force for change, an impetus for further discovery to make less ancient dreams real.
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nprev
post Dec 24 2005, 01:44 AM
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...plus, there's the whole planetary back-contamination issue to consider also in light of the Genesis landing problems. I personally don't think that's a significant risk--I'd be delighted just to see MSR make it home, period, and far more worried about contaminating pristine material with terrestrial organics--but I'm sure some persons or groups might get a bit spun up at the prospect...


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A few will take this knowledge and use this power of a dream realized as a force for change, an impetus for further discovery to make less ancient dreams real.
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mike
post Dec 24 2005, 07:48 AM
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We've been hit by Martian debris for billions of years. Any Martian bug has already worked its magic on us. Any Martian sample return mission sounds good to me. Also, Frylock will rock you like a cop.
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Guest_BruceMoomaw_*
post Dec 24 2005, 08:22 AM
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Not according to Benton Clark, who took a thorough look at this issue years ago. If new types of Martian germs are hitting Earth, they're almost certainly doing so at intervals of tens of thousands of years (or much longer), and we have no way of knowing what they did to living things on Earth at the time. (The Spanish flu would have left no detectable fossil trace for future paleontologists to interpret.) The risk is indeed tiny, but it is NOT nonexistent.
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nprev
post Dec 24 2005, 10:25 AM
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QUOTE (mike @ Dec 24 2005, 12:48 AM)
We've been hit by Martian debris for billions of years. Any Martian bug has already worked its magic on us. Any Martian sample return mission sounds good to me. Also, Frylock will rock you like a cop.
*


...you got THAT right, yo! But Meatwad get the honeys, G...biggrin.gif

Still, I see Bruce's point as well. The best (and unfortunately most expensive) way to do MSR is therefore probably to apply the same degree of reliability engineering to the design of the Earth return process as would be used for a manned mission.

Heck, maybe the Mars orbit rendezvous/Earth return vehicle should just be a modified CEV; this would provide an excellent operational test of that system without risk of crew lives, plus maybe let MSR tap the hopefully deep pockets of the manned program to pay the tab for this particular UMSF...


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A few will take this knowledge and use this power of a dream realized as a force for change, an impetus for further discovery to make less ancient dreams real.
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edstrick
post Dec 24 2005, 01:14 PM
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Jrehling: "Has anyone ever waited for a new version of some computer/electronics product to come out, and ended up delaying indefinitely, ever waiting for a better version? I'm starting to get that feeling with Mars Sample Return......"

Fusion power is always 50 years in the future.
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lyford
post Dec 24 2005, 05:54 PM
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I almost hate to say it, but I am happy to wait. We don't know nearly enough to decide what piece of Mars to bring back - and you have to plan your trip before you can start worrying about where to "buy the souvenirs". I would rather have good data from several areas of the surface and just under; a knowledge of Mars as a geological system. We should have a better understanding of Mars' hydrologic history and the forces that controlled rock deposition before we spend the bajillions of dollars and who knows how much political karma to plan a sample return. A mission like that would almost certainly be a one off - especially if the results are negative or inconclusive for present or past life. Like Apollo, I can't see the public rallying to pay for a second mission just so "those scientists" can fill in the decimal places.

I believe we are in the beginnings of a golden age of remote sensing planetary science - so far we have a data set of 1 when it comes to a living planet with liquid water. We really need to expand our knowledge of the history of the solar system and how planets form - one could argue that Titan and Europa missions are just as important then for the Life Question.

And don't get me started on a manned mission - talk about cross contamination!

And as for fusion, I am still waiting for my flying car, thank you.


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Lyford Rome
"Zis is not nuts, zis is super-nuts!" Mathematician Richard Courant on viewing an Orion test
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