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Mars Sample Return
Explorer1
post Dec 5 2018, 04:17 PM
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A press release from a Canadian company that has been selected for a 'Fetch Rover' by Airbus to pickup the 2020 samples:
https://mdacorporation.com/news/pr/pr2018120401.html
QUOTE
Brampton, ON - MDA, a Maxar Technologies company (NYSE: MAXR) (TSX: MAXR), announced today that it was selected by Airbus to provide a conceptual design of a rover mobility system and sample acquisition system planned to explore Mars and acquire samples that will be returned to Earth. The rover, a small vehicle approximately 1 metre wide by 1.5 metres long, will be capable of withstanding the harsh atmosphere of Mars and its challenging terrain. The ‘Sample Fetch Rover’ is planned to be part of the mission concepts the European Space Agency (ESA) is exploring with NASA for an international Mars Sample Return campaign between 2020 and 2030. The new contract is one of a number of innovative programs MDA’s space systems is supporting.


Also some details on a European orbiter to pick up the samples in orbit and return them to Earth.
QUOTE
ESA’s Earth Return Orbiter will be the third launch in this campaign to Mars and it is timed to capture the basketball-size sample container orbiting Mars. The spacecraft will then return to Earth, where it will release the entry capsule, allowing extensive analyses of the samples in laboratories with varied scientific equipment too large to take to Mars.


Obviously just a press release, so take it with a grain of salt, but a NASA/ESA partnership seems like the best way to split the costs.

Still almost no details on the MAV as we have been discussing in the thread. Any idea who would build it?
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mcaplinger
post Dec 6 2018, 01:32 AM
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QUOTE (Explorer1 @ Dec 5 2018, 08:17 AM) *
a NASA/ESA partnership seems like the best way to split the costs.

FWIW, I'm unconvinced that international cooperation ever saves money if a full cost accounting is done.


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Disclaimer: This post is based on public information only. Any opinions are my own.
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MahFL
post Dec 6 2018, 01:52 AM
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QUOTE (Explorer1 @ Dec 5 2018, 04:17 PM) *
...Obviously just a press release, so take it with a grain of salt, but a NASA/ESA partnership seems like the best way to split the costs.
...


I have never heard any talk of splitting costs from NASA HQ staff, eg the reason Insight has the instruments it has are because they were the best available to achieve the mission objectives, not to split any costs.
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Explorer1
post Dec 6 2018, 02:25 AM
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Well the whole point of the 2020 rover is lost if no one builds an ascent or Earth-return vehicle! If NASA doesn't get the funding for both of those in the 2020s, by definition it will be some other agency that needs to do it.
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vjkane
post Dec 6 2018, 02:19 PM
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QUOTE (Explorer1 @ Dec 5 2018, 08:17 AM) *
Obviously just a press release, so take it with a grain of salt, but a NASA/ESA partnership seems like the best way to split the costs.

NASA and ESA signed a statement of intent on April 26, 2018 to develop plans to jointly accomplish the sample return by splitting the development along clear system/subsystem lines. The SOI is based on direction in the FY19 budget submitted by NASA to plan for a sample return and on the 2016 direction by ESA's Ministerial Council to prepare for a joint sample mission. Both agencies have been doing technology development along the lines of the proposed split of responsibilities for a number of years. For example, the Canadians have been doing rover development for several years including building prototypes.

Here's the split of responsibilities from the SOI:

NASA: MSR lander including Mars ascent vehicle, sample capture and containment system for the return orbiter, Earth entry capsule

ESA: fetch rover, return orbiter, sample transfer arm for the MSR lander

Formal approval of this plan would come for NASA in the form a new start in a funding bill (and subsequent year funding); for ESA at the next Ministerial Council meeting (I'm not sure if this is in 2019 or 2020).

I've attached a copy of the SOI

Attached File(s)
Attached File  2018_04_26_NASA_ESA_SOI_Signed.pdf ( 753.79K ) Number of downloads: 230
 


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John Whitehead
post Jun 21 2019, 04:05 PM
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Here is an update for the Mars ascent vehicle (MAV).

A 2019 publication (URL below) from engineers at the Marshall Space Flight Center (NASA MSFC) compares conceptual designs for a single-stage hybrid propellant MAV and a two-stage solid propellant MAV. This study, done at the request of JPL, is a bit of a revelation, considering that the hybrid rocket alone was presented as the solution in 2018, at two science community meetings (MEPAG and the National Academy decadal midterm review, see my 2018Sep10 post). The MSFC paper says there will be a down-select at the end of 2019, followed by detailed design for one of the two options.

A two-stage solid propellant MAV was favored by NASA for most of the past 20 years, then was put on the back burner for roughly 5 years of research into hybrid propulsion, which is considered to be more tolerant of cold temperatures while waiting on Mars. The 2015 JPL study found that four different versions for a two-stage solid would all be heavier than two different options for liquid propulsion (hybrid best, then liquid, then solid). Notably, this latest MSFC paper dismisses liquid propulsion as less worthy of consideration, without explaining the discrepancy.

So not only is there is no easy answer, but selecting the least difficult option is also fraught with uncertainty. As I've written before, it is unfortunate that engineers have always been constrained by the notion of designing and building a MAV in the next several years (on and off for over 20 years now), rather than doing long-term experimental research to create new technology. Yes, the hybrid work is experimental, but it is mostly "propellant research" rather than "miniature launch vehicle research." The latter kind of effort needs to emphasize making components that weigh much less than the state of the art for small-scale space propulsion.

The 2019 MSFC paper shows top-level numbers for thrust and mass, from which it can be calculated that the solid propellant needs to burn at only about 60 percent of the typical rate for existing solid rocket motors of the same size. The lower thrust is needed for trajectory reasons, but the paper does not mention that the propellant burn rate needs to be much lower, or to what extent that would be a development challenge. While the nozzles need to be flexible for steering, the authors offer no comments for how much weight that would add.

The MAV mass is yet again heavier. The 2018 JPL publications show the hybrid MAV as 346 kg, and the 2019 MSFC paper shows 374 kg for both the hybrid and the solid, for the same 18-kg payload in all cases. Twenty years ago, the notional two-stage solid MAV was to be inside a thermal enclosure (the "igloo") for survival on Mars, while the 2019 study says little about the extra mass needed for "ground support equipment" on Mars. There needs to be a lot of building and testing to figure out how to make small rocket parts super-lightweight, but the engineering efforts have been limited to design studies and propellant research.

Here's the URL for the 2019 MSFC MAV publication.
https://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi.ntr...20190002123.pdf

Also during the past year, the international MSR science team (iMOST) published a 186-page report that details the scientific reasons why it is more compelling than ever to have Mars samples in labs on Earth.

Long version from 2018 August:
https://mepag.jpl.nasa.gov/reports/iMOST_Fi...port_180814.pdf

Short summary from 2019 March, published in Meteoritics & Planetary Science:
https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/maps.13232

Considering the science case, and the fact that a small MAV continues to be elusive, maybe the answer is for the MSR mission to be way bigger and heavier than anyone has thought. But budget-wise, that just pushes it farther into the future. See Mike Caplinger's post from 2018Oct28.
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stevesliva
post Jun 21 2019, 05:18 PM
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I was thinking this thread, and about sample return when reading that the 2020 rover just got its wheels installed. The 2020 rover is supposed to cache samples for return. So the time on the surface vs 20 years ago is likely shorter. That said, you're not avoiding nighttime entirely.
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