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Unmanned Spaceflight.com _ Mars 2020 Rover _ Nasa announces new rover mission to Mars in 2020

Posted by: Mongo Dec 4 2012, 11:24 PM

http://cosmiclog.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/12/04/15678579-nasa-plans-mars-rover-remake-for-2020?lite

QUOTE
NASA today announced a $1.5 billion plan to build another Mars rover based on the design of its current Curiosity rover, with the intention of sending it to the Red Planet in 2020 and perhaps storing up samples for later return to Earth.

The move comes less than a year after the space agency said it couldn't afford to contribute $1.4 billion to the European-led Exomars missions, and it seems likely to stir new debate within the planetary science community. Hoped-for missions to other interplanetary destinations, such as the Jovian moon Europa, could conceivably be impacted further by the revised plans for Mars exploration.

John Grunsfeld, associate administrator for science at NASA Headquarters, insisted that the budget could handle the new commitment. "This mission concept fits within the current and projected Mars exploration budget, builds on the exciting discoveries of Curiosity, and takes advantage of a favorable launch opportunity," he said in a NASA news release.

He said the future rover would be built on the same basic design used for the Curiosity rover, which landed on Mars in August, and thus capitalize on the design work that was done during Curiosity's development for its $2.5 billion Mars Science Laboratory mission. Like Curiosity, the new rover would be nuclear-powered, thanks to a spare radioisotope thermoelectric generator, Grunsfeld said.

Grunsfeld announced the plan during a town-hall session at the American Geophysical Union's fall meeting in San Francisco. Based on Twitter updates from the meeting, reaction was deeply mixed. "NASA town meeting audience is very quiet," Lindy Elkins-Tanton of the Carnegie Institution of Washington tweeted. "I think we are all in shock."

Projected budget cuts have cast a pall of uncertainty over future plans for interplanetary probes, but the idea of bringing samples back from Mars for study on Earth is on top of planetary scientists' priority list for the next decade. Grunsfeld told his AGU audience that the rover could have the capability to gather and store samples for later return, depending on how its science mission is defined.

NASA said a science definition team would be selected to outline the mission's objectives, and that the selection of science and instruments for the mission would then be openly competed. The mission would also help lay the groundwork for eventual human exploration of Mars, the agency said.

"The Obama administration is committed to a robust Mars exploration program," NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said in today's statement. "With this next mission, we're ensuring America remains the world leader in the exploration of the Red Planet, while taking another significant step toward sending humans there in the 2030s."

Two rovers are currently in operation on Mars — Curiosity and Opportunity. Meanwhile, three working spacecraft are orbiting the Red Planet: the European Space Agency's Mars Express as well as NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and Mars Odyssey orbiter. Next year, NASA is due to launch the $500 million MAVEN orbiter to study Mars' upper atmosphere. In 2016, NASA plans to send a $425 million lander called InSight to delve into Mars' depths.

NASA also plans to participate in the European Space Agency's Exomars program by contributing radios for an orbiter and lander due for launch in 2016, as well as scientific apparatus for a 2018 rover. But the space agency had to trim back its commitment to Exomars early this year, in large part due to the need to cover cost overruns on the James Webb Space Telescope. The Russian Space Agency is filling the gap left by NASA's pullback.

U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., who has been critical of past cutbacks in NASA's planetary science program, applauded the plan announced today.

"In its few short months on Mars, Curiosity has broadened our understanding of our planetary neighbor, and the findings announced thus far point to even greater discoveries as Curiosity continues to explore Gale Crater and Mount Sharp," Schiff said in a written statement. "An upgraded rover with additional instrumentation and capabilities is a logical next step that builds upon now-proven landing and surface operations systems."

However, Schiff said he favored launching the rover in 2018 — when the alignment of Earth and Mars is more favorable, permitting the launch of a heavier payload. "I will be working with NASA, the White House and my colleagues in Congress to see whether advancing the launch date is possible, and what it would entail," he said.

Posted by: elakdawalla Dec 4 2012, 11:35 PM

Of interest to this forum: Science News journalist Alex Witze just http://twitter.com/alexwitze/statuses/276102226576027648: "I asked Cameron if he would fly his zoom camera (taken off MSL at last minute) on the new MSL. A: Yes I'll start pushing right away."

Posted by: Explorer1 Dec 5 2012, 12:23 AM

Another chance for the sky-crane too! It's gonna be like Phoenix all over again, with the recycling of legacy stuff?
And another chance for the PS microphones if they don't get on InSight....

Posted by: JRehling Dec 5 2012, 12:49 AM

It's a necessary evil from time to time, and I'm speaking largely of Mars exploration, because that's the place that gets follow-up missions, that commitments are made to Mission #K+1 when science from Mission #K has not been gathered / studied.

This always makes an implicit bet on what the findings would be. If the intent is to gather samples for a later return, then the possibility remains that Curiosity will hit the jackpot and find the materials we would most want to return. But Curiosity has no sample cache, so we would either need another rover, after the 2018/2020 one, to gather samples in Gale, or to send the 2018/2020 rover back to the same spot.

The 2018/2020 landing site can be chosen after MSL's main mission will have ended, so it seems more likely that this rover will be sent to a site that is complementary to Gale (maybe an MSL backup, like Eberswalde) and then for any sample return, the choice will be made between Gale and the other site. That will require changes in the architecture depending on whether it will be the pre-cached samples at the other site, or a new roving mission will cover Curiosity's tracks to pick up samples at Gale.

Posted by: SFJCody Dec 5 2012, 07:23 AM

To me it sounds like a splicing of the MAX-C and AFL concepts. I quite like it, although I have some reservations. Provided it really does have a caching capability and end up becoming the first element of a sample return it should provide a decent amount of science per buck. Using the existing reserves of expertise and spare materials from MSL (which would otherwise disperse and become outdated, respectively) could be seen as amortizing MSL's hefty development costs.

Posted by: Explorer1 Dec 5 2012, 07:50 AM

What exactly is meant by 'caching ability'? If we mean just storing samples on a rover, than Curiosity already has that ability in SAM's sample cups and other systems, right? Would this new rover just store them in a more easily removable area on its body without a followup mission doing serious interplanetary surgery?
Because if MSL finds something worth taking back to Earth, the latter could allow skipping a middleman mission.
I'm just throwing hypotheticals out there, so please excuse my idle (and years too early!) layman's speculation.

Posted by: djellison Dec 5 2012, 08:29 AM

QUOTE (Explorer1 @ Dec 4 2012, 11:50 PM) *
What exactly is meant by 'caching ability'? If we mean just storing samples on a rover, than Curiosity already has that ability in SAM's sample cups and other systems, right?


No - specifically - cache samples for later collection for return to earth. SAM can't do that.

Posted by: ollopa Dec 5 2012, 01:10 PM

Does anyone know what 3D picture John Grunsfeld was referring to at the beginning of his press briefing after the Town Hall? He talked about a 3D picture he could view on his iPad and could pan and tilt to look around.

Posted by: dombili Dec 5 2012, 03:29 PM

http://www.planetary.org/blogs/casey-dreier/20121204-the-2020-rover-in-context.html

QUOTE (ollopa @ Dec 5 2012, 09:10 AM) *
Does anyone know what 3D picture John Grunsfeld was referring to at the beginning of his press briefing after the Town Hall?


I didn't watch the briefing, but judging your comment he was probably talking about the app called https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/spacecraft-3d/id541089908?mt=8 (link goes to iTunes).

Posted by: Drkskywxlt Dec 5 2012, 03:29 PM

Very surprised this was announced yesterday. Michael Meyer addressed the MAVEN workshop on Sunday and said the discussion was still ongoing and the future plan would be announced in a couple MONTHS...not days.

Posted by: dvandorn Dec 5 2012, 05:21 PM

QUOTE (Explorer1 @ Dec 5 2012, 02:50 AM) *
What exactly is meant by 'caching ability'? If we mean just storing samples on a rover, than Curiosity already has that ability in SAM's sample cups and other systems, right? Would this new rover just store them in a more easily removable area on its body without a followup mission doing serious interplanetary surgery?

The idea of caching samples on a rover for a sample return mission (Mars Sample Return, or MSR) is that the rover would be the mobile part of the operation, picking up samples and inserting them into a cache that is designed to be transferred into the MSR Earth return capsule. The cache unit and transfer mechanism to place the cache unit into the MSR capsule are not yet designed. Of course, neither is the MSR return capsule.

The MSR lander, with its ascent stage and Earth return capsule, is going to be heavy, likely the heaviest thing we will try landing on Mars up to that time. The caching and transfer systems will almost definitely have to be landed separately, as part of the rover that collects the samples.

However the design evolves, it will definitely be more involved and complex than dropping rocks on the rover deck and trundling them up to the MSR lander. I envision an encapsulating system on the rover and a simple transfer of sample cans into well-fitting receptacles in the Earth return capsule. That will all have to be designed and implemented. So, no way either of the active rovers on Mars right now would be able to support MSR sample caching.

-the other Doug

Posted by: djellison Dec 5 2012, 05:26 PM

QUOTE (dvandorn @ Dec 5 2012, 09:21 AM) *
The cache unit and transfer mechanism to place the cache unit into the MSR capsule are not yet designed. Of course, neither is the MSR return capsule.


Just a cursory google or NASA tech reports search will show that actually, sealed caching mechanisms and a return capsule have all had significant design work and are far more mature than you're suggesting.

QUOTE
The MSR lander, with its ascent stage and Earth return capsule, is going to be heavy


The earth return capsule will not be part of the ascent stage - it would be carried by the orbiter that will rendezvous with the ascent stage in orbit.

Posted by: dvandorn Dec 5 2012, 05:35 PM

QUOTE (JRehling @ Dec 4 2012, 07:49 PM) *
...the possibility remains that Curiosity will hit the jackpot and find the materials we would most want to return. But Curiosity has no sample cache, so we would either need another rover, after the 2018/2020 one, to gather samples in Gale, or to send the 2018/2020 rover back to the same spot.

Well, yes-but. See, one of the big things that is happening in the Mars Exploration Program is that we're developing a recognition of "signatures" from orbital data to identify the kinds of rocks and soils we would see on the surface. The landers are providing ground truth for these initial attempts at identifying these signatures and interpreting them correctly.

What I would more expect than a revisit to Gale or Meridiani would be the identification, based on ground-truth-refined signatures seen from orbital data, of other locations that not only offer "jackpot" samples (as defined by correlations between MER/MSL data and orbital data) but also samples of other materials that are tempting but for which we have not yet achieved ground-truth correlations.

I think this is going to play out differently from "OK, Curiosity found our samples, let's land another MSL there to gather 'em up." I'd bet we will find another location where our jackpot signatures are strong but which also features evidence of even other fascinating sample options, and send an MSL with a caching system to that location.

-the other Doug

Posted by: JRehling Dec 6 2012, 09:55 PM

I think you're right, other Doug, but the snag I had in mind was that there would be, I think, a respectable chance that once we've seen Gale and the other location, X, there's roughly a 50% probability that we would prefer to get samples from Gale returned rather than from X. Then the reaction to that would have to be either to create a new mission to go back to Gale, or say "Too bad!" and return the samples from X anyway.

To get more nuanced on that "50%", we might expect that because we're getting to know Mars better, that X will be a smarter decision than Gale. On the other hand, it may be that Gale is the best possible location to return from and X will be by definition the backup. I think most would agree that this is what happened with the MERs, that given two rovers, one landing site was correctly viewed as the favorite, and Gusev ended up being a poor alternative which was, perhaps coincidentally interesting for reasons (the Columbia Hills) other than why it was chosen (the inflow site of Ma'adim Vallis).

Mind you, I'm not finding fault with the approach: It's a matter of trade-offs. The possibility of that hiccough, a risk that we will need to send a "collector" to Gale, may be a better approach than, say, waiting to design the next mission until much later, or sending an exact MSL clone to X and guaranteeing that we'll need a collector later.

Posted by: Fran Ontanaya Dec 7 2012, 02:29 AM

I wonder if it will still use the same lubricant or they'll try again to use dry one.

Posted by: djellison Dec 7 2012, 02:35 AM

To be honest, I think Curiosity's system is doing so well ( and requiring so little heating ) that they probably will not ( and ought not to ) bother.

Posted by: dvandorn Dec 7 2012, 02:49 AM

Since there was more hydrazine left in the descent stage tanks on Curiosity than expected, is it possible that the 2020 rover could be upgraded somewhat in weight? Or do the other EDL phases constrain the total mass for this landing system such that we'll need to end up with a rover pretty much the same weight as Curiosity?

-the other Doug

Posted by: Explorer1 Dec 7 2012, 03:18 AM

If the EDL can be modified to avoid kicking up so much dust and debris, that would be good news as well (for the REMS team at least!).

Posted by: mcaplinger Dec 7 2012, 04:11 AM

QUOTE (Explorer1 @ Dec 6 2012, 08:18 PM) *
If the EDL can be modified to avoid kicking up so much dust and debris, that would be good news as well (for the REMS team at least!).

The instruments will be recompeted and while it would be nice if the landing environment were more benign, I expect that proposed instruments will be expected to prove their robustness to landing debris.

Posted by: stevesliva Dec 7 2012, 04:13 AM

QUOTE (dvandorn @ Dec 6 2012, 09:49 PM) *
Since there was more hydrazine left in the descent stage tanks on Curiosity than expected, is it possible that the 2020 rover could be upgraded somewhat in weight?


Gale's low elevation provided some margin there, right?

Posted by: djellison Dec 7 2012, 04:41 AM

Correct - although I think margin could be found elsewhere as well - The requirement was to be able to land 1000kg - which the system could easily have handled.

Posted by: Explorer1 Dec 7 2012, 05:16 AM

Scott Anderson's portable geochronometer would be a nice payload option, finally giving absolute dates for samples.
This article details it, but doesn't mention how heavy the finished instrument will be, other than 'light enough' for deep space.

http://www.nature.com/news/planetary-science-the-time-machine-1.11049

Posted by: PaulM Dec 7 2012, 01:07 PM

QUOTE (elakdawalla @ Dec 5 2012, 12:35 AM) *
Of interest to this forum: Science News journalist Alex Witze just http://twitter.com/alexwitze/statuses/276102226576027648: "I asked Cameron if he would fly his zoom camera (taken off MSL at last minute) on the new MSL. A: Yes I'll start pushing right away."

I would like Cameron's camera to be flown on insight mission although I realise that there would be a considerable cost involved in integrating the camera and processing the data. However, the camera would do a great job of filming dust devils. dd.gif

Posted by: Phil Stooke Dec 7 2012, 02:10 PM

No, the imaging part of that mission will be brief, and it and will use copies of MER Hazcam and Navcam. The design is basically done, don't expect any changes. If you want a fancy new camera you have to wait for the new rover.

Phil


Posted by: Mars Attack Dec 7 2012, 03:19 PM

What would really excite me is including on the 2020 rover the most up to date and sophisticated life detection instruments available or under development. Viking provided inconclusive evidence of possible life thirty some years ago. Since then we have learned much more about Mars and we will learn even more in the coming years. John G.mentioned that the new rover could land in places that even MSL couldn't have, opening up the most likely places to detect life. He also said that there are new life detection instruments that are being considered for the 2018 lander from Europe and Russia that could be used. I can't think of anything more exciting for the world then to have a rover looking for life and possible finding hard, conclusive evidence of it. You just never know until you actually try!

Posted by: mcaplinger Dec 7 2012, 03:24 PM

QUOTE (Phil Stooke @ Dec 7 2012, 07:10 AM) *
The design is basically done, don't expect any changes.

If they haven't had their Critical Design Review yet, then the design is not "done". I don't think they've even had PDR.

There's no technical or schedule reason we couldn't have better imaging on InSight. As to cost, how much is it worth?

Posted by: elakdawalla Dec 7 2012, 04:53 PM

If they are to stick to the $1.5B number I think they will have to stay very close to the MSL blueprint in terms of EDL, mobility system, etc. Instruments are, at least according to NASA's public statement, wide open. There was a Q and A about instruments at the announcement. Someone pointed out that congressman Schiff had issued a release pushing for a 2018 launch date; Grunsfeld replied that instruments couldn't be ready by 2018 and that 2020 would be a tight schedule.

It would be cool to get to take advantage of the guided entry capability to go to some place that was totally inaccessible to previous landers. Gale was pretty benign as far as the entry phase goes, because of its low elevation.

Posted by: Drkskywxlt Dec 7 2012, 07:13 PM

Also, to be responsive to the Decadal Survey, this rover MUST cache samples. If it doesn't cache, then the Decadal was clear that this type of mission is lower priority relative to Europa, etc...

Posted by: vjkane Dec 8 2012, 02:58 AM

I think that the key unknown for MSL-2020 is the instrument budget. The march of technology since the instrument selection for MSL-2012 allows some new of instruments such as geochronology dating instruments and contact instruments that can measure composition at the scale of individual grains. However, developing flight versions, I suspect, may be expensive. I also suspect that creating a flight ready version of a sample cache system may require substantial investment.

As I recall the $1.5B estimate for the caching rover included only next-generation contact instruments and the cache sample system. That might mean that the budget for new internal instruments may be limited.

One option may be to update Curiosity's instruments and also to refly some of the ExoMars rover instruments. I'd like to see MSL-2020 carry a copy of the ExoMars deep drill.

Posted by: elakdawalla Dec 8 2012, 05:36 AM

On a visit to Honeybee Robotics last year I saw a pretty sweet sample acquisition and caching system. They had a coring drill with a really neat design that had a window they could use to inspect the sample before it was stored; their cache had a goodly number of slots for cores and soil samples.

Posted by: Drkskywxlt Dec 8 2012, 04:42 PM

Emily, I think the caching technology is reasonably well-advanced. I'm not sure about the TRL of the system, but I'm disconcerted that caching wasn't explicitly included in the announcement. A caching "instrument" shouldn't have to compete with other instruments on this mission. Plain and simple, if the rover doesn't cache, it shouldn't fly.

Posted by: vjkane Dec 8 2012, 04:44 PM

Do you know the technology readiness level?

Posted by: pospa Dec 8 2012, 04:59 PM

QUOTE (vjkane @ Dec 8 2012, 06:44 PM) *
Do you know the technology readiness level?

Not sure how far they are these days but in June 2010 A Sample Handling, Encapsulation, and Containerization Subsystem Concept for Mars Sample Caching Missions looked like this:
http://www.planetaryprobe.eu/IPPW7/proceedings/IPPW7%20Proceedings/Presentations/Session7A/pr502.pdf

Posted by: mcaplinger Dec 8 2012, 05:29 PM

QUOTE (Drkskywxlt @ Dec 8 2012, 09:42 AM) *
Plain and simple, if the rover doesn't cache, it shouldn't fly.

I am just a lowly engineer and I build what scientists tell me they need, but I don't see how this follows. It's not like the Decadal Survey has to be inviolate. We all have to adapt to fiscal and political realities.

I have yet to see a science rationale for what returned samples will be used for and how they should be selected with enough detail to inform engineering. Caching without return is clearly a waste.

Posted by: Drkskywxlt Dec 8 2012, 07:07 PM

QUOTE (mcaplinger @ Dec 8 2012, 12:29 PM) *
I am just a lowly engineer and I build what scientists tell me they need, but I don't see how this follows. It's not like the Decadal Survey has to be inviolate. We all have to adapt to fiscal and political realities.

You're right, the government has no obligation to follow the Decadal Survey. But, the scientific community was very clear. There are guidelines in the Decadal on their recommendations would be adapted to different budget situations. And in this case, if someone on high is unwilling to commit to sample return, then Europa is the next priority. The Europa folks have done their homework to develop a compelling scientific mission for ~$2B.

QUOTE
I have yet to see a science rationale for what returned samples will be used for and how they should be selected with enough detail to inform engineering. Caching without return is clearly a waste.

As far as can be understood, the samples can be cached on Mars' surface waiting for a MAV/ERV indefinitely. The scientific rationale for sample return is spelled out in the Decadal and a variety of MEPAG documents. I'm not saying Mars isn't scientifically compelling unless we do sample return, but I am saying it's less scientifically compelling relative to any of the other recommended flagship missions in this budget environment.

Posted by: MahFL Dec 8 2012, 07:13 PM

QUOTE (mcaplinger @ Dec 7 2012, 03:24 PM) *
There's no technical or schedule reason we couldn't have better imaging on InSight. As to cost, how much is it worth?


My understanding was the small team was not setup to do a lot of imaging, the system will record the earthquakes, if any, and send the data to Earth once every month or so. They only need a Navcam mosaic to record the local area, and help deploy the 2 experiments.

Posted by: vjkane Dec 8 2012, 08:12 PM

QUOTE (Drkskywxlt @ Dec 8 2012, 11:07 AM) *
You're right, the government has no obligation to follow the Decadal Survey.

Without naming branches of government, the Surveys are chartered by the government with the expectation that they will be followed. They were set up to avoid the previous situation where groups of scientists lobbied for their favorite mission.

Posted by: djellison Dec 8 2012, 08:17 PM

QUOTE (Drkskywxlt @ Dec 8 2012, 08:42 AM) *
A caching "instrument" shouldn't have to compete with other instruments on this mission. Plain and simple, if the rover doesn't cache, it shouldn't fly.


The planetary science community produced the Decedal survey

The planetary science community will choose the 2020 payload

If the motivation to do caching was in the Decadal, it should end up on the rover by the same means. Peer review and community consensus opinion.

I see no reason in griping about a payload that hasn't even had an AO released yet.

Posted by: nprev Dec 8 2012, 08:17 PM

MOD NOTE: Please keep rule 1.2 in mind during this discussion.

Posted by: Phil Stooke Dec 9 2012, 12:39 AM

I think all this concern is very premature. NASA has simply announced a flight opportunity. The definition of rover goals and equipment is still to come, and it's not NASA's role to decide them in advance. The science team has that role and will almost certainly be guided by the Decadal Survey. Chances are they will request input from the community and get an earful about the Decadal in the process.

Phil


Posted by: machi Dec 9 2012, 10:50 AM

Many possible instruments for future rover(s) can be found in http://www.lpi.usra.edu/meetings/ipm2012/pdf/program.pdf (IPM 2012) abstracts.
Some of them are capable of detecting heavy organics and even radiometric dating - http://www.lpi.usra.edu/meetings/ipm2012/pdf/1152.pdf and
are feasible in 2018-2022 time frame.

Posted by: dmg Dec 9 2012, 04:41 PM

Many concepts and lab experience/testing of prototypes for sample handling and caching were presented at the Concepts and Approaches for Mars Exploration workshop held at the LPI in June. I watched a number of the presentations and the sessions are all still available on Ustream. I don't remember and have not taken the time to look for exactly which session & which elapsed time are about sample handling & preservation for caching, but they are there if people want to find them. All would require substantial development & testing, but lots of seemingly promising ideas. See: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/meetings/marsconcepts2012/

For what it's worth, though, I agree with those who believe that the complexity is very high for the decisions of responding to the current fiscal and political climate vis a vis following the Decadal Survey's preference for caching & MSR vs. doing an interesting but not MSR-enabling mission [at lowest cost with as many spare parts and proven hardware as possible]. I want ALL of the planetary missions to occur (and physics like eLISA, etc.) -- but almost all of the outer planets missions might return data after I'm dead (I'll be 75 - 80+) anyway which is a very sobering thought. It takes a long time to get to outer planets and the radiation environment at Europa is a huge & costly problem. Anything can be done with enough money, but...... the prospect for THAT is currently low and the future is hard to judge. Mars is reachable every two years; we know how to land highly capable platforms, and like it or not it does engage the public (c.f. the flap over "earthshaking results").

So I say give Dr. Grunsfeld & his crew (and MPPG) some credit for trying to do the best in a very tough situation.

Posted by: Drkskywxlt Dec 9 2012, 06:31 PM

I'm not griping about a hypothetical payload, I'm griping that this is a mission that has no declared science goal. The way to operate is define the science that needs to be collected and design a mission around it. This is a mission that is having the science designed around a rover. It's backwards.

Posted by: mcaplinger Dec 9 2012, 06:48 PM

QUOTE (Drkskywxlt @ Dec 9 2012, 11:31 AM) *
This is a mission that is having the science designed around a rover. It's backwards.

I can appreciate the sentiment, but the idea that the science comes first in a mission is, in my experience, somewhat idealized. You can't sensibly design a mission without any engineering constraints. Usually there is a mission concept with total cost, rough LV selection and spacecraft total mass, then a science definition team, and then an instrument AO. This doesn't seem a lot different from that.

At any rate, I didn't think that criticizing mission selections was what this forum was about.

Posted by: Drkskywxlt Dec 9 2012, 06:58 PM

QUOTE (mcaplinger @ Dec 9 2012, 01:48 PM) *
I can appreciate the sentiment, but the idea that the science comes first in a mission is, in my experience, somewhat idealized. You can't sensibly design a mission without any engineering constraints. Usually there is a mission concept with total cost, rough LV selection and spacecraft total mass, then a science definition team, and then an instrument AO. This doesn't seem a lot different from that.


It is a bit idealized, but look back at previous missions and there is a general driving science goal, e.g., MER was about finding surface evidence of water-altered geology, MSL is about characterizing habitability of past environments. A science traceability matrix is not what I'm looking for. I'm looking for "the 2020 rover will determine suitable samples and cache them for return to Earth on a future mission".

Posted by: djellison Dec 9 2012, 07:17 PM

QUOTE
MSL is about characterizing habitability of past environments.


And the payload was competitively bid after the mission was selected. And MER was entirely focused on fitting in Pathfinder EDL and fitting what science they could within it. You're using very rose tinted programmatic glasses.

The payload will do what the mars science community want it to do. They will want it to do what the Decadal asked. You will get what you are 'looking for' - but not yet. Is it an ideal situation? No. Is it the best we can hope for given the Mars program budget profile - arguably, yes. Given the funding profile - it's simply not OK for HQ to flat out state this is step one of MSR. The payload has to be competed - the science community must decide what it's for. HQ are giving them the blank canvas that they can fill in how they see fit. If sample return is really what they want - then this vehicle can do it. If this were the other way around - we would see people complaining about HQ dictating the science goals of a mission rather than letting it be determined by the community's suite of available instrumentation competed for the ride.

Note - this decision doesn't come arbitrarily - it comes after the report that followed the summer long process of looking at the Mars program (engineering and science) with invited contributions from the full spectrum of the Mars science community.

This mission is an absolutely perfect enabler for MSR phase 1. The science community simply have to make it so.

Posted by: centsworth_II Dec 9 2012, 07:34 PM

QUOTE (Drkskywxlt @ Dec 9 2012, 01:31 PM) *
...I'm griping that this is a mission that has no declared science goal....

Or... there is an "off the shelf" science goal available.

There was talk of building two MSL rovers just as two MERs were built (look how well that turned out), and the choice between the last two MSL landing sites was hotly debated.

As I see it, an identical rover to MSL could be built and sent to the site that lost out to Gale and worthwhile science objectives that have already been thoroughly vetted could be realized. If a better payload is designed and a better site is selected, so much the better.

Posted by: Drkskywxlt Dec 9 2012, 07:59 PM

Centsworth...that's certainly true, but such a mission is lower priority than a Europa mission (or any other flagship) per the Decadal Survey.

I think the reality is probably what Doug has suggested. There are programmatic (and the other "p" word) reasons why the announcement didn't say caching and it will be up to the SDT to declare it a caching mission.

Posted by: djellison Dec 9 2012, 08:09 PM

The point regarding Europa is moot.

I explained why earlier in this thread and even linked to Casey's amazing article that explains it so very well
http://www.planetary.org/blogs/casey-dreier/20121204-the-2020-rover-in-context.html


Posted by: Drkskywxlt Dec 9 2012, 08:49 PM

Doug, I see your and Casey's point, that this is Mars program money and isn't pulling funds from somewhere else. I grant that point, however it's a bit of a technicality. The Decadal Survey essentially said there should be no Mars program if it isn't doing sample return. There is only money in the budget for 1 flagship. This rover is a flagship mission.

Posted by: Don1 Dec 9 2012, 09:25 PM

I really don't understand what the scientific community is complaining about. They just got more rover for less money than the MAX-C proposal. This new rover has enough payload to keep everyone happy. The price that has to be paid is that existing hardware designs will have to be reused, which means no messing with the EDL or rover chassis. Those elements are working very well, so I don't see any problem there.

MSL has about 80kg of instruments, and something like an additional 30kg of drilling and sample processing hardware on a 67kg arm. The design for a core drill, arm and sample handling system for MAX-C worked out to weigh 24kg. There is no way to stop them from putting sample caching capability on the next rover. The space is there. Either the 40kg SAM instrument will be descoped and redesigned to be lighter, or the existing drilling and sample processing hardware will be redesigned and simplified. Neither option strikes me as difficult.

By the way, the payload for a MER class rover is about 20kg, but really only 8kg if you consider a mast and a pancam essential for rover operation. The desired core drilling and sample handling hardware simply won't fit. The requirement for core drilling kills that option stone dead.

The MAX-C study looked at a solar powered rover about twice the mass of MER and one third the mass of MSL, but that option worked out to cost over $2 billion. It turns out that reusing an existing design saves a lot of money.

Posted by: vjkane Dec 10 2012, 02:55 AM

NASA appears to have made a strategic decision to put the bulk of is planetary funding towards Mars. I think there are good reasons for doing so (see my blog). However, there were other alternatives they could have pursued such as a ~70% down payment on a Europa mission or to fly a New Frontiers and a Discovery mission. http://www.planetary.org/blogs/casey-dreier/20121204-the-2020-rover-in-context.html shows how the MSL-2020 announcement follows from the budget proposed last February and http://www.planetary.org/blogs/emily-lakdawalla/2012/12051226-response-2020-rover.html describes why this is not an obvious evolution from the Decadal Survey's recommendations.

Posted by: djellison Dec 10 2012, 03:47 AM

QUOTE (vjkane @ Dec 9 2012, 06:55 PM) *
However, there were other alternatives they could have pursued such as a ~70% down payment on a Europa mission or to fly a New Frontiers and a Discovery mission.


No - this money was - at the presedential level - assigned to the Mars program. You cite Casey's article - but you've not understood it. The cost of the 2020 mission could not have been spent on a Europa or Discovery or NF mission.

NASA COULD NOT... let me repeat that - COULD NOT have spent this money on anything other than Mars.

The budget may not be flexible enough to respond to the Decedal - but this mission does the best it can to speak to the Decedal, for Mars, within the budget assigned.

Posted by: JRehling Dec 11 2012, 06:03 PM

It will be interesting to see what opportunities there are for payload refinement based on Curiosity's results. Maybe some test that we couldn't yet foresee will become of burning interest. Maybe after Curiosity has ground truthed its instruments against the same martian samples dozens of times, one of them will prove redundant, at least in terms of the mission goals. And then the payload could include a new instrument in the freed-up slot.

I wonder about the value of a higher resolution microscope. Curiosity's MAHLI resolution is 14 microns per pixel, which is about a 2X improvement on MER. I suppose it depends on the objective.


Posted by: centsworth_II Dec 11 2012, 06:18 PM

QUOTE (JRehling @ Dec 11 2012, 01:03 PM) *
I wonder about the value of a higher resolution microscope.... I suppose it depends on the objective.
Shhhhh.... laugh.gif

Already mentioned, but I'll put in my vote for a geochronometer. It's been very frustrating to have little idea how old the various layers the rovers have been studying are.




Posted by: JRehling Dec 11 2012, 06:49 PM

A geochronometer is an excellent example of a kind of instrument where flying it just once on the right rover could do a lot of good. Dating, eg, the Hesperian-Amazonian transition in one location would anchor the absolute time of the transition anywhere on the planet, even if there are local variations.

The Urey mission was an early proposal to do dating in situ on Mars. Gale would have been an excellent place to have it happen, maybe the best of the MSL candidate sites. Maybe Athabasca, Holden, or Eberswalde will get such an instrument.

Posted by: Eyesonmars Dec 11 2012, 07:07 PM

On the way to the surface MSL ejected about 300kg of dead weights of various masses. This, as i understand it, was required to give us a margin of safety for precision landing functionality. This compares to ~80kg of science instruments. It will be interesting to see if our engineers, after reviewing all the EDL data from MSL, can improve on this ratio. It is probably not this simple but would a 30kg reduction in rejected mass requirement be available for 30kg in additional scientific payload ?

Posted by: JRehling Dec 11 2012, 07:31 PM

It would surely require redesign to buy payload at the cost of fuel. Also, note that instruments require power, and add to the complexity of the information processing system, not only mass.

Most of all, be mindful that Curiosity's wide margins aren't all slack for next time. There is still a bit of mystery to how Mars's atmospheric profiles vary with time, so the approach that just barely works perfectly in one instance might lead to failure in the same location and time of sol due to weather. And, as others have noted, higher altitude will cut the margins as well.

Posted by: djellison Dec 11 2012, 08:04 PM

QUOTE (Eyesonmars @ Dec 11 2012, 11:07 AM) *
On the way to the surface MSL ejected about 300kg of dead weights of various masses. This, as i understand it, was required to give us a margin of safety for precision landing functionality. T


Margin? No. It fundamentally enabled the guided entry that allowed MSL to have a small landing ellipse.

You could add approx 100kg to the mass of MSL within the current architecture - but it's not coming from the ballast.

Posted by: centsworth_II Dec 11 2012, 08:28 PM

Apparently another possibility for increasing payload size would be to move the launch date to 2018.


http://news.cnet.com/8301-11386_3-57557184-76/nasa-announces-plans-for-new-$1.5-billion-mars-rover/

QUOTE
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) endorsed the new rover mission, saying in a statement that "an upgraded rover with additional instrumentation and capabilities is a logical next step that builds upon now proven landing and surface operations systems."

But he wants NASA to move up the launch date to 2018.

"While a 2020 launch would be favorable due to the alignment of Earth and Mars, a launch in 2018 would be even more advantageous as it would allow for an even greater payload to be launched to Mars," he said. "I will be working with NASA, the White House and my colleagues in Congress to see whether advancing the launch date is possible and what it would entail."


I'm pleasantly surprised to see a congressman take such an interest, but I fear this is too optimistic. We should probably be more concerned with what effect a slip to 2022 would have.

Posted by: fredk Dec 11 2012, 08:40 PM

He says "a 2020 launch would be favorable", but he doesn't say with respect to what. That's the crucial question. The 2018/20 opportunities should be compared with the 2010 2011 flight.

Posted by: centsworth_II Dec 11 2012, 08:58 PM

QUOTE (fredk @ Dec 11 2012, 03:40 PM) *
...The 2018/20 opportunities should be compared with the 2010 flight.
That would be an interesting comparison, but the payload of a future rover is dependent only on the 2018 vs 2020 dates.

From the same article I linked in my previous post:
John Grunsfeld, NASA's science chief... however, cautioned that "2020 is ambitious, and a lot of it has to do with the science instrument development. ... It might be possible to do it in 2018, but it would be a push. What it might do is exclude certain science investigations that might be possible if we had the extra two years. That's something downstream."

I don't know what use extra payload would be at the expense of "certain science investigations", especially if a geochronometer is a possibility in 2020 but not in 2018.

Posted by: mcaplinger Dec 11 2012, 09:02 PM

QUOTE (djellison @ Dec 11 2012, 01:04 PM) *
You could add approx 100kg to the mass of MSL within the current architecture - but it's not coming from the ballast.

http://trs-new.jpl.nasa.gov/dspace/bitstream/2014/41814/1/NASA_TM_2011_216988.pdf is an interesting study of potential improvements to MSL; one of the options discusssed is replacing the entry balance masses with an actively-controlled trim tab. Of course it's not clear how many changes to the MSL architecture are going to be possible for cost and schedule reasons.

Posted by: JRehling Dec 11 2012, 09:06 PM

The distance between Earth and Mars will reach a local minimum in the 2018 opposition, and will grow in each successive opposition through 2027 then decrease again before reaching the next local minimum in 2035.

2020, however, is only slightly farther than 2018. Then there's a steep climb with each successive opposition.

The Earth-Mars opposition distance isn't quite the same thing as trajectory energy for the launch opportunity, but I think they correlate very well.

Posted by: mcaplinger Dec 11 2012, 09:17 PM

QUOTE (JRehling @ Dec 11 2012, 02:06 PM) *
2020, however, is only slightly farther than 2018.

Here's the C3 in km2/sec2 for the opportunities from 2009 to 2022. You can clearly see that 2020 is much higher (worse) than 2018.
Source: table 2 in Interplanetary Mission Design Handbook: Earth-to-Mars Mission Opportunities and Mars-to-Earth Return Opportunities 2009–2024, NASA/TM—1998–208533.

2009: 10.27
2011: 8.95
2013: 8.78
2016: 7.99
2018: 7.74
2020: 13.17
2022: 13.79

Posted by: centsworth_II Dec 11 2012, 09:24 PM

At least it's good to see that a mission planned for 2020 won't be much affected by a launch in 2022. On the other hand, a mission design based on a 2018 launch could run into big trouble with a slip of launch date.

Posted by: JRehling Dec 11 2012, 09:32 PM

I certainly stand corrected. It looks like there's a phase shift in the relationship between opposition distance and energy with the shift being about one launch opportunity.

Posted by: djellison Dec 11 2012, 09:33 PM

QUOTE (mcaplinger @ Dec 11 2012, 01:02 PM) *
one of the options discusssed is replacing the entry balance masses with an actively-controlled trim tab.


Yeah - that (and others) were even looked at earlier in MSL development (my favorite was using tanks of mercury that could be pumped around the backshell) - but they were dumped just to keep the architecture simple. Mass wasn't a problem - complexity, reliability and schedule were - so they went with the simplest option.

To be honest, I'd expect them to do the same this time around.

Posted by: fredk Dec 11 2012, 10:09 PM

QUOTE (mcaplinger @ Dec 11 2012, 10:17 PM) *
2009: 10.27
2011: 8.95
2013: 8.78
2016: 7.99
2018: 7.74
2020: 13.17
2022: 13.79

So getting back to my question, this shows that 2020 is worse than 2011 in terms of delta v^2, so all else being the same a 2020 MSL2 could carry less payload than the current MSL. How easily can this delta v^2 difference be translated into a payload mass difference?

2018, on the other hand, is a bit better than 2011.

Posted by: mcaplinger Dec 11 2012, 10:26 PM

QUOTE (fredk @ Dec 11 2012, 03:09 PM) *
So getting back to my question, this shows that 2020 is worse than 2011 in terms of delta v^2, so all else being the same a 2020 MSL2 could carry less payload than the current MSL.

Not a foregone conclusion, since MSL probably wasn't using all of the C3 available.

In general I think C3 scales as the square of injected mass, but I haven't seen a detailed analysis of the 2020 opportunity. For 2018 there is a detailed breakdown in http://www.nap.edu/reports/13117/App%20G%2007_Mars-Astrobiology-Explorer.pdf

Posted by: brianc Dec 11 2012, 10:54 PM

QUOTE (mcaplinger @ Dec 11 2012, 09:02 PM) *
http://trs-new.jpl.nasa.gov/dspace/bitstream/2014/41814/1/NASA_TM_2011_216988.pdf is an interesting study of potential improvements to MSL; one of the options discusssed is replacing the entry balance masses with an actively-controlled trim tab. Of course it's not clear how many changes to the MSL architecture are going to be possible for cost and schedule reasons.


Why not replace the entry balance masses with something useful such as Penetrators or Micro-probes

http://www.planetaryprobe.eu/IPPW7/proceedings/IPPW7%20Proceedings/Presentations/Session7B/pr401.pdf



Posted by: mcaplinger Dec 11 2012, 11:07 PM

QUOTE (brianc @ Dec 11 2012, 03:54 PM) *
Why not replace the entry balance masses with something useful such as Penetrators or Micro-probes

The usual reasons: cost, complexity, increased mission risk.

Volumetrically it's impossible to get a microprobe to weigh as much as a piece of tungsten. At some point it just wouldn't fit in the available space.

Posted by: Explorer1 Dec 11 2012, 11:27 PM

And they wouldn't be balanced very well either, which is the whole point of a ballast mass. Penetrators and others would need a dedicated mission of their own.

Posted by: stevesliva Dec 12 2012, 12:45 AM

It would be neat happenstance if there happened to be a seismometer relatively near the impacts of those ballast masses.

Posted by: MahFL Dec 12 2012, 12:47 AM

QUOTE (stevesliva @ Dec 12 2012, 01:45 AM) *
It would be neat happenstance if there happened to be a seismometer relatively near the impacts of those ballast masses.


The ones they have now don't need to be anywhere near the impact.

Posted by: djellison Dec 12 2012, 02:09 AM

The rover is only about 1/4 of the launch mass of the MSL payload. Trimming science payload doesn't get you very far at all

Page 2-107 of - http://www.scribd.com/doc/16924557/Lockheed-Atlas-V-Mission-Planners-Guide is where Atlas V C3 spec's are listed.

MSL's launch mass was 3,893kg

On the Atlas V 541 is used - the max theoretical C3 was approx 22 km^2/s^2 - mcaplinger is right - the MSL launch was not using it's total performance envelope. A similar massed vehicle could make any of those launch opportunities with the same rocket. To put it another way - there was about a 25% mass margin on LV performance for MSL.




Posted by: jsheff Dec 20 2012, 06:36 PM

Does anyone have possible launch and arrival dates for the 2020 window?

- John in Cambridge

Posted by: mcaplinger Dec 20 2012, 06:55 PM

QUOTE (jsheff @ Dec 20 2012, 11:36 AM) *
Does anyone have possible launch and arrival dates for the 2020 window?

The reference I quoted upthread has the launch in July 2020 and arrival in January of 2021, but that may have been with a different set of constraints.

Posted by: Explorer1 Dec 20 2012, 08:35 PM

Solicitation beginning, any takers? wink.gif

http://spaceref.com/news/viewsr.html?pid=42921

Posted by: vjkane Dec 20 2012, 09:34 PM

QUOTE (Explorer1 @ Dec 20 2012, 12:35 PM) *
Solicitation beginning, any takers? wink.gif

My input: fly the caching hardware and cut a deal with ESA to fly a copy of their ExoMars deep drill.

Actually, it would be interesting to see what the collective wisdom of this board would be on what should fly versus what the science team recommends.

Posted by: Explorer1 Dec 20 2012, 10:28 PM

I mentioned the portable rock dater being developed earlier in the thread, and I still think it should be seriously considered. Relative dating has served us well so far, but absolute needs to eventually happened (we can only rely on meteorites so often!)
Of course, the landing site selection is just going to get even more intense. Good thing it can be left for last.

Posted by: ngunn Dec 20 2012, 10:41 PM

Since opinions are invited I'd say take the technology to Mars rather than the reverse, so the dater wins over the cacher for me.

Posted by: jamescanvin Dec 21 2012, 08:59 AM

QUOTE (jsheff @ Dec 20 2012, 06:36 PM) *
Does anyone have possible launch and arrival dates for the 2020 window?


Allen Chen tweeted this yesterday:

QUOTE
Launch in ~late July/early August 2020 and arrive in ~March of 2021.


https://twitter.com/icancallubetty/status/281827909415620608

Posted by: machi Dec 21 2012, 10:38 AM

I think that MSL sized rover can do both things - sample caching + dating.
http://www.lpi.usra.edu/meetings/ipm2012/pdf/1152.pdf with multiple spectrometers weights with cameras ~35 kg.
I don't how heavy is caching device, but I suppose that it can be done at weight less than 45 kg.

Posted by: Floyd Dec 21 2012, 04:00 PM

QUOTE (Explorer1 @ Dec 20 2012, 04:35 PM) *
Solicitation beginning, any takers? wink.gif
http://spaceref.com/news/viewsr.html?pid=42921


I hope all of you followed the link. It is fascinating how NASA projects are put together. The link above is a request for qualified people to send in a two page letter of application to be part of a 12-15 person Science Definition Team for the 2020 Mars Science Rover Mission (Mars - 2020). NASA will pick 12-15 people and a chairman. The committee will come up the Science Objectives (that several of you were prematurely complaining were missing) that will go into the Announcement of Opportunity---request for mission proposals.

More specifically from the link:

The members of the Mars-2020 SDT will provide NASA with scientific assistance and direction during preliminary concept definition (Pre-Phase A) activities. Near-term activities of the SDT will include the establishment of baseline mission science objectives and a realistic scientific concept of surface operations; development of a strawman payload/instrument suite as proof of concept; and suggestions for threshold science objectives/measurements for a preferred mission viable within resource constraints provided by NASA Headquarters. The products developed by the SDT will be used to develop the NASA Science Mission Directorate (SMD) Announcement of Opportunity (AO) that will outline the primary science objectives of the baseline mission and the character of the payload-based investigations solicited under open competition via the AO. The SDT will be formed in January 2013, and disbanded after the work is complete approximately four months later. All reports and output materials of the Mars-2020 SDT will be publicly available, and the SDT will be disbanded prior to any future Announcement of Opportunity (AO) for participation in the Mars-2020 mission, including provision of instrumentation and investigation support. Participation in the Mars-2020 SDT is open to all qualified and interested individuals.

Posted by: TheAnt Dec 23 2012, 04:11 PM

I like the idea of a drill as vjkane suggested, and ESA have put a quite some work into the design so that addition would come at a bargain prize relatively speaking ofc.
With such subsurface work I think it would be a good idea to have one other Russian DAN instrument or a replica.
And there has been work on one lightweight mini sensor experiment called BOLD (Biological Oxidant and Life Detection) that might be added to such a drill or perhaps in any testing package for the second MSL.
If the rover are supposed to cache samples, it is my strongest recommendation that BOLD or a similar experiment is included.
This for a multiple of reasons, none the least that we need a measurement of organics since we even with good precautions may have return samples handled and contaminated by Earth organics - ruining the results of the very expensive return mission.

Dating rocks are also of interest, but forgive me for thinking that it is less needed if the rover would also serve the role as a cacher for one subsequent sample return mission. In that case such work could be done much more thoroughly on Earth. So IMO those are one either/or addition.

Posted by: centsworth_II Dec 23 2012, 05:00 PM

QUOTE (TheAnt @ Dec 23 2012, 11:11 AM) *
Dating rocks are also of interest, but forgive me for thinking that it is less needed if the rover would also serve the role as a cacher for one subsequent sample return mission. In that case such work could be done much more thoroughly on Earth. So IMO those are one either/or addition.
Analysis by any instrument sent to Mars could be more thoroughly done on Earth, however some on site analysis is required in deciding which samples to cache. This would ideally include dating. Also, many more sites and specimens could be tested on Mars than could be sampled for return to Earth.

Posted by: TheAnt Dec 23 2012, 06:06 PM

Oh yes, that might be a valid point.

Yet it does not change my view that organic contamination is more of a concern that might ruin science results, so even sensors like SAM could tell us how much organics there were in the original sample so we would know what amount to expect in the lab at Earth, even if we do not have the exact composition. (So if there turn out to be more, then we would know to be cautious for a possible contaminated sample - or try again with the next that was brought back.)

Even so looking for organics beforehand might be a more critical need compared to rock dating which are less sensitive to contamination what I know of.
In addition the APX, CheMin and other instruments, even the cameras could give good hints of what kind of rocks or material that is sampled, yet those instruments are of less help for any characterization if there only be trace amounts of organics.
And if we happen on any such it would be of paramount importance to keep those as pure as possible if we ever are to find out if it originated on Mars or have been transported by one asteroid or comet.

Then again the question of possible organics might be to close to home for me since it is related to my field of study so I might be a bit biased on the idea of having more focus on organics here. smile.gif
(& Merry Christmas to all on this forum!!)

Posted by: nprev Dec 23 2012, 07:11 PM

One thing to keep firmly in mind when thinking about organics on Mars is that it is overwhelmingly likely that most if not all of such we'll detect--and, eventually, we will-- came from carbonaceous meteorites.

We've seen an inordinate number of iron-nickel meteorites on Mars already at Meridiani from Opportunity, probably because they are much easier to identify from appearance & location alone. Stony ones are quite a bit harder to identify esp. because the ubiquitous ocher dust covers everything in very short order, but they obviously must be present as well. Extremely carbon-rich soft objects like the Murchison fall in Canada a couple of years ago probably don't last too long on the surface even by Martian standards & get mixed into the soil sooner rather than later.

Not trying to be a huge downer here, but it will be most prudent to temper our expectations from the eventual detection of organics.

Posted by: TheAnt Dec 23 2012, 08:17 PM

QUOTE (nprev @ Dec 23 2012, 08:11 PM) *
Not trying to be a huge downer here, but it will be most prudent to temper our expectations from the eventual detection of organics.


Not at all!
If organics are detected, then it is part of the Martian environment today. Regardless of where it got started.
Now if something is found the second step will then to find out where that material originated. So bring that 'stuff' back to me please! laugh.gif

The Viking experiments did hint that very little organics were present at those landing sites at least, a surprising find for the very reason that you pointed out - even the small amount transported by carbonaceous meteorites would have added enough to be detected by the Viking landers.
The Phoenix lander results with perchlorates and a soluble chemistry added a new spin to the question of what the Martian soils might contain.

Yet I do agree that little to no organic compounds are expected near the surface, but if we drill down as deep as the ESA type drill is supposed to be capable of, the result might turn out to be different. So if a drill is included it might be the most interesting mission so far... from my perspective and interest.


Posted by: jsheff Jan 31 2013, 02:41 AM

QUOTE (Floyd @ Dec 21 2012, 11:00 AM) *
I hope all of you followed the link. It is fascinating how NASA projects are put together. The link above is a request for qualified people to send in a two page letter of application to be part of a 12-15 person Science Definition Team for the 2020 Mars Science Rover Mission (Mars - 2020). NASA will pick 12-15 people and a chairman. The committee will come up the Science Objectives (that several of you were prematurely complaining were missing) that will go into the Announcement of Opportunity---request for mission proposals.

More specifically from the link:

The members of the Mars-2020 SDT will provide NASA with scientific assistance and direction during preliminary concept definition (Pre-Phase A) activities. Near-term activities of the SDT will include the establishment of baseline mission science objectives and a realistic scientific concept of surface operations; development of a strawman payload/instrument suite as proof of concept; and suggestions for threshold science objectives/measurements for a preferred mission viable within resource constraints provided by NASA Headquarters. The products developed by the SDT will be used to develop the NASA Science Mission Directorate (SMD) Announcement of Opportunity (AO) that will outline the primary science objectives of the baseline mission and the character of the payload-based investigations solicited under open competition via the AO. The SDT will be formed in January 2013, and disbanded after the work is complete approximately four months later. All reports and output materials of the Mars-2020 SDT will be publicly available, and the SDT will be disbanded prior to any future Announcement of Opportunity (AO) for participation in the Mars-2020 mission, including provision of instrumentation and investigation support. Participation in the Mars-2020 SDT is open to all qualified and interested individuals.



And so they've announced the SDT for the 2020 mission:

http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/m2020/mission/missionteam/sdt/

- John Sheff
Cambridge, MA

Posted by: Explorer1 Jan 31 2013, 04:49 AM

Your link is broken; it's http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/m2020/mission/missionteam/sdt/

Some well-known names!

Posted by: stone Feb 2 2013, 06:11 PM

Only one from GB, not really an european, and noone from ESA gives an impression of what NASA thinks a future cooperation. Very sad to read that list in that respect.

The persons I read are all more than qualified to do the job, they will do the right thing fast enough so lets wait for their report.

Posted by: mcaplinger Feb 4 2013, 03:19 PM

QUOTE (stone @ Feb 2 2013, 11:11 AM) *
Only one from GB, not really an european, and noone from ESA gives an impression of what NASA thinks a future cooperation. Very sad to read that list in that respect.

The 2020 mission is not a joint NASA/ESA mission. If you look at missions that have been, you'll see that the SDT has been jointly selected by NASA and ESA.

Future cooperation is all well and good (this isn't the appropriate forum to discuss the pros and cons of that), but this particular mission is 100% funded by NASA AFAIK. I'm not certain of the mechanics but I don't think NASA will pay the expenses of a foreign national, and since ESA wouldn't in this case, participation would have had to be self-funded (partly speculation on my part because I couldn't find the solicitation online any more, but I think likely.)

Posted by: vjkane Feb 5 2013, 01:12 AM

I believe that NASA has said that it is open to foreign instrument contributions for the mission that fit with the science goals that this science team will define

Posted by: stone Feb 5 2013, 09:39 AM

To reduce costs for NASA a lot of the instruments will be delivered from somewhere else. The insight mission is a good example for this all the big instruments are coming from europe.

To invite an scientis from ESA has nothing to do who will pay for the mission or that ESA has to pay for the travel it is a sign of cooperation and respect, this is missing in the decision.


Posted by: mcaplinger Feb 5 2013, 04:20 PM

QUOTE (stone @ Feb 5 2013, 02:39 AM) *
To reduce costs for NASA a lot of the instruments will be delivered from somewhere else. The insight mission is a good example for this all the big instruments are coming from europe.

The funding dynamics for a Discovery mission are considerably different than those for a mission where the instruments are selected in an open competition.

A more comparable situation would be the SHARAD instrument on MRO, which was funded by ASI rather than ESA. I'm not sure if ESA has a program similar to the NASA Mission of Opportunity, which provides funding for US instruments to fly on other nations' missions. I don't recall for sure, but I think that SHARAD was selected by a process outside of the general AO for MRO. DAN and REMS are similar situations on MSL.

It will be interesting to see what the 2020 AO actually says on the topic of non-US instruments, and whether ESA or the European national space agencies make funding available for European instruments.

Posted by: stone Feb 5 2013, 04:52 PM

I never heard of an ESA funded instrument so far. They are always funded by the national agencies. So the Exomars rover will cost 1.2 GEuro but this does not include the instruments because they are funded by the national agencies.

Insight my impression was insight was cheaper because it uses spare parts of Phoenix and the instruments come from abroad making it an appealing mission in a time of low budget because an increase in the price for the system is unlikely and a rise in the costs for the instruments is payed by somebody else.

Posted by: vjkane Feb 5 2013, 06:34 PM

One low hanging opportunity would be to use some of the ExoMars instruments in the 2020 rover. MOMA would be one opportunity, especially since NASA is contributing to its development. Some redesign would be needed for the ExoMars instruments to physically fit in the 2020 rover, interface with the sample delivery mechanism, talk with the 2020 rover computer, etc, but it should still be much lower cost than developing a flight instrument from a bread board design.

Posted by: stone Feb 5 2013, 08:09 PM

ExoMars instruments either from the Pateur-Payload or from the no longer existing Humboldt-Payload (geophysics and weather) are cheap for NASA with the exceptions of Urey and MOMA, both have some or all money from NASA. After a lot of instruments had to be left away from ExoMars there is a bunch of well developed instruments out there.

The work to make MOMA 2020 ready are easier in one part, because MOMA is using a lot of the technology developed for SAM (the same people at Goddard work on the hardware for the MS and the main electronics).

More interesting will be what the rover will become: Search for organics, geology or geophysics rover. The instrument selection comes well after this decision.

A PanCam is the only thing which is not left away.



Posted by: mcaplinger Jul 8 2013, 09:13 PM

http://www.nasa.gov/news/media/newsaudio/index.html#.UdsrNHZ385a

Tuesday, July 9 at 3 p.m. EDT: NASA Teleconference on Mars 2020 Plans

NASA is hosting a media teleconference to provide details about a report that will help define science objectives for the agency's next Mars rover.

The report, prepared by the Mars 2020 Science Definition Team (SDT) NASA appointed in January, is an early, crucial step in developing the mission and the rover's prime science objectives.


Posted by: ollopa Jul 9 2013, 06:25 PM

Anyone have a link to the report? It's supposed to be at http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/m2020/ but I can't get past all the fun and games!

Posted by: Paolo Jul 9 2013, 06:33 PM

QUOTE (ollopa @ Jul 9 2013, 08:25 PM) *
Anyone have a link to the report?


http://mepag.jpl.nasa.gov/reports/MEP/Mars_2020_SDT_Report_Final.pdf

Posted by: Paolo Jul 9 2013, 06:43 PM

and images for the briefing have appeared http://www.nasa.gov/mars/telecon20130709/#.UdxZ3uCmW01

Posted by: Explorer1 Jul 9 2013, 07:43 PM

Ouch! Keith Cowing poses the tough questions as usual....

Posted by: acastillo Jul 11 2013, 10:20 PM

I am so glad that they are putting a cache on this rover, although the chances of NASA funding a sample return mission are extremely low. Unless, of course, this rover actually finds a rock unit with high suggestive evidence of past or present life.

Posted by: JRehling Jul 12 2013, 04:58 PM

The nice thing about a cache is that it has no time limit on it. The mission to come get the cache could take place 2, 4, 20, or 80 years later. So the funding pathways are pretty forgiving in that respect.

Posted by: Phil Stooke Jul 12 2013, 05:14 PM

Absolutely right! It doesn't have to be any part of the plan now.

Phil


Posted by: Jaro_in_Montreal Jul 15 2013, 12:38 AM

According to an article in Aviation Week,

“While the two rovers will have many components in common, including the chassis and a radioisotope thermoelectric generator for power…”

Can anyone confirm that MSL2 will have a plutonium RTG, like Curiosity ? (Thnx)

http://www.aviationweek.com/Article.aspx?id=/article-xml/asd_07_11_2013_p03-01-595935.xml

Posted by: djellison Jul 15 2013, 12:51 AM

It's assumed to be an RTG at this point, but a final decision has not been made. If you notice - the blueprint-style artwork show neither an RTG nor solar arrays.

Posted by: mcaplinger Jul 15 2013, 12:52 AM

QUOTE (Jaro_in_Montreal @ Jul 14 2013, 05:38 PM) *
Can anyone confirm that MSL2 will have a plutonium RTG...

Read the SDT report and the FAQ at http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/m2020/

"No final decision on a power source for the 2020 rover would be made until the mission completes a review
through the National Environmental Policy Act process, which considers the environmental impacts of launching
and conducting the mission. This process is currently scheduled to conclude in late 2014. The baseline-design
power source for 2020 mission planning is the same as Curiosity's: a multi-mission radioisotope thermoelectric
generator. Other possible power sources are also under consideration, including solar power."

Posted by: elakdawalla Jul 15 2013, 06:58 PM

In my former life as an environmental consultant I used to write NEPA documentation (mostly for local transportation projects). To comply with NEPA, NASA has to write an Environmental Impact Statement that (among other things) considers nuclear and solar power options for the mission and demonstrates that the impact of using solar power for the mission would be sufficiently harmful to the mission goals as to overcome the slightly greater launch disaster risk posed by the use of an RTG. Which means that, at least in public, NASA cannot officially state which type of power supply they plan to use until the Environmental Impact Statement has been drafted, commented on by the public, those comments replied to, and the statement formally approved.

Posted by: Jaro_in_Montreal Jul 16 2013, 01:01 AM

QUOTE (elakdawalla @ Jul 15 2013, 07:58 PM) *
In my former life as an environmental consultant I used to write NEPA documentation (mostly for local transportation projects). To comply with NEPA, NASA has to write an Environmental Impact Statement that (among other things) considers nuclear and solar power options for the mission and demonstrates that the impact of using solar power for the mission would be sufficiently harmful to the mission goals as to overcome the slightly greater launch disaster risk posed by the use of an RTG. Which means that, at least in public, NASA cannot officially state which type of power supply they plan to use until the Environmental Impact Statement has been drafted, commented on by the public, those comments replied to, and the statement formally approved.

How can ANYONE possibly justify going through a REPETITION of this lengthy & costly process for MSL2, after it was completed for MSL1, absolutely boggles the mind !
No wonder NASA never has enough funding !



Posted by: mcaplinger Jul 16 2013, 02:35 AM

QUOTE (Jaro_in_Montreal @ Jul 15 2013, 06:01 PM) *
How can ANYONE possibly justify going through a REPETITION of this lengthy & costly process for MSL2...

How lengthy or costly do you think it was? I believe that most of the work to qualify the MMRTG was done long before MSL. You can get more insight into this by reading http://science.nasa.gov/media/medialibrary/2010/11/05/MSL-FEIS_Vol1.pdf

At any rate, those are the rules.

Posted by: nprev Jul 16 2013, 04:01 AM

Precisely. There's no choice here, and there's no point in bemoaning it. Moving on.

Posted by: Paolo Dec 23 2013, 06:57 PM

sorry to resurrect this old thread: wasn't the call for instruments to be put out by late fall this year?
I have heard nothing on the subject.

Posted by: pospa Dec 23 2013, 07:08 PM

QUOTE (Paolo @ Dec 23 2013, 07:57 PM) *
wasn't the call for instruments to be put out by late fall this year?

It happened I'd say, see http://nspires.nasaprs.com/external/solicitations/summary.do?method=init&solId=%7BC49E4810-6DE9-9509-E896-EBC006101A9E%7D&path=open.

Posted by: stone Dec 23 2013, 10:11 PM

A few people I know prepare alot of paperwork lately. COIs should enlist and give their role in the new instruments.
So the instrument proposal train is still on track.

Posted by: Paolo Dec 23 2013, 11:38 PM

QUOTE (pospa @ Dec 23 2013, 08:08 PM) *
It happened I'd say


thanks! I really missed that one!

Posted by: mcaplinger Jan 16 2014, 05:31 AM

Instrument proposals for 2020 were due a half hour ago. Now to see what gets selected. We put in some interesting proposals, about which I can say nothing more. rolleyes.gif

The selections are supposed to be announced in April.

Posted by: craigmcg Feb 17 2014, 12:54 PM

I will be curious to see if this rover is able to get from point a to point b more rapidly. I'm talking about the net speed including all of the following:

- planning cycle (driven by a number of factors, including communications delays and the differences between mars and earth time)
- power available for driving
- maximum wheel speed
- effectiveness of auto navigation and our trust in it
- willingness to drive by things that might be interesting

Obviously terrain will also has an impact, but that is a factor external to the capabilities of our human / machine roving systems.

Posted by: vjkane Feb 17 2014, 04:11 PM

QUOTE (craigmcg @ Feb 17 2014, 04:54 AM) *
I will be curious to see if this rover is able to get from point a to point b more rapidly. I'm talking about the net speed including all of the following:

The Science Definition Team's (SDT) report spent a fair bit of time on the question of how to balance time between traveling to new locations and identifying and collecting samples to cache. It takes a considerable time to assess and area and to plan and then acquire samples.

Here are some sample tradeoffs from the SDT's presentation to MEPAG.

Maximize quantity of cached samples
5 km total driving
34 samples
2 cores per characterized target

Maximize non-caching science
3 km total driving
20 samples
full complement of fieldwork (1 core per characterized target)

Maximize driving
15 km total driving
20 samples
2 cores per characterized target


 

Posted by: djellison Feb 17 2014, 04:20 PM

QUOTE (craigmcg @ Feb 17 2014, 04:54 AM) *
- planning cycle (driven by a number of factors, including communications delays and the differences between mars and earth time)
- power available for driving
- maximum wheel speed
- effectiveness of auto navigation and our trust in it


If you expect any of those to change for Mars 2020, you are going to be disappointed.

Posted by: Phil Stooke Feb 17 2014, 06:46 PM

The ideal situation would be to use HiRISE images for route planning, with a rover robust enough that it could cope with sub-HiRISE obstacles and use visual odometry to ensure it was remaining on track. This is for a post-2020 rover, methinks, but we will never see 1000 m/day traverses without something like this.

Phil


Posted by: craigmcg Feb 17 2014, 06:52 PM


I guess to save roughly $1 billion in mission costs, you have to make some trade-offs!

It will be interesting to see how fast rovers can improve speed of operations (in general, not just speed of travel). It would also be interesting to see the economics of making a smarter, faster, more expensive rover (and supporting technology infrastructure) vs. the cost of all the human operations.

Posted by: Floyd Feb 17 2014, 07:23 PM

My recallection is that the cost of bulilding and launching rovers is several times the yearly operating costs. So operating cost is already low.

Posted by: Harder Feb 17 2014, 07:26 PM

“If you expect any of those to change for Mars 2020, you are going to be disappointed.”

What makes you say that, Doug? Kindly explain. The SDT and its appendix already make a lot of recommendations which –to me at least- could pave the way towards a next level in efficiency in operations. On top of that, the ongoing, complex MSL operations looks to me the perfect “incubator” for maturing new operations concepts and –strategies out of the hard-earned experience, so slamming the door on positively formulated 2020 hopes/aspirations seems odd If I may say so.

Posted by: Explorer1 Feb 17 2014, 08:45 PM

They haven't even settled on a power source: solar or RTG? Until then we can't really make driving comparisons between a rover that exists on Mars right now and one that won't for many more years, anymore than we can compare their scientific instruments!

Posted by: mcaplinger Feb 17 2014, 08:50 PM

QUOTE (Harder @ Feb 17 2014, 12:26 PM) *
The SDT and its appendix already make a lot of recommendations... could pave the way towards a next level in efficiency in operations.

Most of the suggestions Doug was reacting to were for changes to hardware, not operations.

I don't know how you're going to change the planning cycle very much, as it's dependent on the relative diurnal cycles of Earth and Mars and how much time it takes to do planning.

Also, the mission is highly cost-constrained and any change that costs money is probably DOA.

Posted by: vjkane Feb 17 2014, 09:08 PM

The real tradeoff is between time spent doing science/caching and driving. The goal of the rover is to do science and caching with driving serving the purpose of getting to the next interesting science/caching location. If operations improve driving distance per day by, say, 2X, they'll get get to the science/caching stations faster and spend more time at them.

Posted by: djellison Feb 17 2014, 09:10 PM

QUOTE (Harder @ Feb 17 2014, 11:26 AM) *
What makes you say that, Doug? Kindly explain



- planning cycle
There is nothing that's going to change that. It'll still take a full working shift to plan a rovers day of activities. It's going to basically be the same vehicle, so it's going to be basically as complex to use.


- power available for driving
Will almost certainly be a similar MMRTG to MSL. Anything else would require significant (and expensive) changes to the vehicle design. The waste heat from the MMRTG on MSL is an integral part of the entire thermal architecture of the vehicle. Anything else would be a huge alteration that would throw any notion of build-to-print out the window.

- maximum wheel speed
You'll be seeing the same suspension, the same motors. It'll be doing the same speed.

- effectiveness of auto navigation and our trust in it
2020 will almost certainly fly the same avionics with the same performance as MSL. There may be mild improvements in Autonav - but the code is about as good as it's going to get - it's been running on Mars for years and years (more than half a decade on MER before MSL)


Posted by: elakdawalla Feb 17 2014, 09:23 PM

QUOTE (Explorer1 @ Feb 17 2014, 12:45 PM) *
They haven't even settled on a power source: solar or RTG? Until then we can't really make driving comparisons between a rover that exists on Mars right now and one that won't for many more years, anymore than we can compare their scientific instruments!

I don't think there's any question that the actual rover will be an RTG. But under federal environmental law, they cannot go forward developing the mission as nuclear-only until they have produced their Environmental Impact Statement (which must be prepared as a draft first, put through a public comment period, and then published in final form) showing that a solar-powered rover would be dramatically inferior to a nuclear-powered one, and therefore the (negligible) risks of building and launching an RTG are justifiable. http://science.nasa.gov/missions/msl/. The three alternatives (nuclear powered, solar powered, and the "no build" option) are described in chapter 2.

Posted by: James Sorenson Feb 17 2014, 09:31 PM

I assume since Mars 2020 will use the same EDL landing system, the landing ellipse size will be more or less the same size as the one on MSL. There might be some room in the system to shrink it slightly. In my opinion there should be some improvement in balancing the landing ellipse location and any primary mission destination's. Especially if the majority or the whole mission is spent driving to it. Was the MSL landing ellipse the absolute best the team could do based on safety and how close you could get it to the destination they wanted to go?

Posted by: craigmcg Feb 17 2014, 09:41 PM

At some point in the future, I assume a more capable rover will be able to be given a rough set of waypoints (for a day's travel) and do most of the navigation by itself, taking a few pictures / samples / measurements along the way and reporting on them when a communications link was available. It would have a "rolling horizon plan" so that it would never have to wait for home base to tell it what to do.

I am curious what a roadmap to this kind of capability would look like in terms of steps and years of development.

Posted by: djellison Feb 17 2014, 10:24 PM

QUOTE (James Sorenson @ Feb 17 2014, 01:31 PM) *
Was the MSL landing ellipse the absolute best the team could do based on safety and how close you could get it to the destination they wanted to go?


Yes. Indeed if you look at the ellipse from before launch, and the ellipse just before landing you'll notice that it both shrunk AND moved closer to the target based on in-flight performance of the vehicle. They didn't leave anything on the table - they did the best the system could reliable support.



Posted by: elakdawalla Feb 17 2014, 10:43 PM

How far they have to drive is obviously affected by whether there's science available inside the ellipse or not. I remember from the last landing site selection meeting that there were a lot of scientists who were very concerned about the so-called "go-to" sites (of which Gale is one), because they were worried about problems leading them to not getting out of the ellipse. The engineers at the meeting kept telling them they needn't worry, that MSL was a robust platform that would have no problem accessing terrain outside the ellipse.

The first landing site selection meeting for Mars 2020 is now scheduled for May 12-16, 2014, in the Washington, DC area. I expect the question of go-to versus not go-to sites to come up early on, and it may carry greater weight with the 2020 mission landing site selection than it did with MSL. Remember also that MRO had only just arrived at Mars when they started the landing site selection process last time around; they'll have much more information to use to pick a landing site this time around. It would be great if they could find a compelling science site that requires less driving than Gale does.

Posted by: vjkane Feb 17 2014, 11:13 PM

QUOTE (elakdawalla @ Feb 17 2014, 02:43 PM) *
I expect the question of go-to versus not go-to sites to come up early on, and it may carry greater weight with the 2020 mission landing site selection than it did with MSL.

The issue of go-to sites is doubly important for the 2020 rover. If one is selected, it would need to go to the site and then return to a safe landing area with the sample cache. Curiosity, on the other hand, can just keep climbing the mountain instead of having to return to the smooth crater floor.

Issues like this makes the SDT's recommendation for more precise landing capabilities more important. If you can land in a tiny flat area near really interesting areas, it's easy to go and return.

Posted by: Floyd Feb 17 2014, 11:17 PM

QUOTE (craigmcg @ Feb 17 2014, 04:41 PM) *
At some point in the future, I assume a more capable rover will be able to be given a rough set of waypoints (for a day's travel) and do most of the navigation by itself, taking a few pictures / samples / measurements along the way and reporting on them when a communications link was available. It would have a "rolling horizon plan" so that it would never have to wait for home base to tell it what to do.
I am curious what a roadmap to this kind of capability would look like in terms of steps and years of development.


My understanding is that current flight certified computers/radiation hardened CPU (i.e. what is on MSL) lags far behind our smart phones and certainly behind our lap and desktop intel Core i-7 processors. Doug and other can answer more accurately, but my sense is that current autonav software probably already taxes the onboard computer capabilities. You are not going to get 10X leap in autonomy using the current computer hardware.

Posted by: djellison Feb 17 2014, 11:42 PM

The RAD750 is pretty ubiquitous in planetary spaceflight now. MRO, Kepler, LRO, WISE, SDO, Juno, Curiosity. I would expect 2020 to fly with the same hardware.

The only step-change you might see is if auto-nav processing is handed off to an FPGA configured to do the job. The increase in performance would probably mean there would be a negligible difference between driving with autonav on, compared to blind-drives. However - there is a risk, cost, power etc etc associated with flying such a development.

Posted by: SFJCody Feb 18 2014, 03:07 AM

If they do go with an MSL clone MMRTG and they don't take a 26 month launch deferment surely there'll be a little more power available than MSL had at landing?

Posted by: djellison Feb 18 2014, 04:37 AM

A negligible amount that could be entirely swallowed ( and then some ) by a less equatorial landing site and the resultant heating requirements etc.

Posted by: Doug M. Feb 18 2014, 09:00 AM

QUOTE (djellison @ Feb 18 2014, 01:42 AM) *
The RAD750 is pretty ubiquitous in planetary spaceflight now. MRO, Kepler, LRO, WISE, SDO, Juno, Curiosity. I would expect 2020 to fly with the same hardware.


Really? The RAD750 was developed in 2001 and deployed in 2005. It's been ubiquitous for the last decade, and has performed very well, which counts for a lot. But are there no plans to produce a next-generation chip in the next five years?


Doug M.



Posted by: craigmcg Feb 18 2014, 11:01 AM

When you are trying to fly a new mission for a cost of $1.5B (vs. $2.5B for MSL) you have to find some significant cost savings. So I'm sure its possible to develop a follow-on to this hardware (and lots of more) but you have to make choices.

I've not seen an accounting of what is new and what is old, but I believe that most of the new investment is going into an improved science package. Infrastructure (landing, mobility, power, imaging, etc.) are maintained from MSL.

Posted by: Doug M. Feb 18 2014, 11:35 AM

QUOTE (craigmcg @ Feb 18 2014, 01:01 PM) *
When you are trying to fly a new mission for a cost of $1.5B (vs. $2.5B for MSL) you have to find some significant cost savings. So I'm sure its possible to develop a follow-on to this hardware (and lots of more) but you have to make choices.


I see that. Developing a chip that's vacuum-tolerant, radiation resistant, and able to function over a range of more than 100 degrees Kelvin is no small or inexpensive thing. And you can reasonably ask how much processing power your average space probe really needs. While more is always nice, right now it seems a luxury rather than a necessity.

But the RAD750 came just five years after the RAD6000 (which is also still widely in use). That was a decade ago, and there hasn't been a new chip since. Googling, I find http://news.cnet.com/8301-11386_3-57491281-76/slow-but-rugged-curiositys-computer-was-built-for-mars/, "Looking down the road to future spacecraft, BAE Systems is developing a quad-core processor for space-based applications that will run at gigahertz speeds... The new computers will be especially useful for image processing." BAE Systems website has a lot of information on space electronics, but AFAICT it doesn't look like a replacement for the RAD750 is in the works yet. Does anyone know more?



Doug M.

Posted by: craigmcg Feb 18 2014, 11:50 AM

Apparently not inexpensive: according to this article http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RAD750 we are talking ~$200,000 for one unit. If you happen to have some extras laying around, I'm sure there is a temptation to use them rather than buy the latest and greatest (assuming one exists).

Posted by: Floyd Feb 18 2014, 12:24 PM

BAE Systems' has a new next-generation processor family. The RAD5545 multi-core processor is the first member of the new RAD5500 family--it will provide a 10X performance increase over the heritage RAD750 according to this PDF: http://www.baesystems.com/cs/groups/public/documents/document/mdaw/mtg0/~edisp/baes_161071.pdf
EDIT: This posted in response to question regarding next gen BAE family. As indicated below this will not be on the 2020. The RAD5500 will probably start showing up in new spacecraft designs over the coming years.

Posted by: mcaplinger Feb 18 2014, 02:04 PM

Go back and read the 2020 AO PIP and observe all the stuff about Technological Readiness Levels.
http://soma.larc.nasa.gov/mars2020/programlibrary.html

Every rover system is going to be a build-to-print copy of MSL unless there is a really good reason to change.

Posted by: djellison Feb 18 2014, 02:33 PM

QUOTE (Doug M. @ Feb 18 2014, 01:00 AM) *
Really?


YES!! Really. It's a refly - not a redesign.

Mike has pointed people to the 2020 proposal documentation - one of the best documents to read is this.

http://soma.larc.nasa.gov/mars2020/pdf_files/Mars2020ProposalInformationPackage130918Signatures.pdf

Explicitly...
"The MSL heritage design includes Rover Compute Elements (RCEs) and Rover Power/Analog Modules (RPAMs). "

Same computer. Period.

Note some of the level of MSL reuse - down to using an identical flex cable to go up the mast to mast mounted instruments, for example. The power budgets offered are the same. The thermal conditions the same. Data volumes the same. The available peak current for instruments is the same. Do a search for the word heritage - it appears 50 times. MSL appears 61 times.

Posted by: stone Feb 18 2014, 10:25 PM

I got a drawing for which place you are allowed to present a new instrument for 2020 and this are the "boxes" were the MSL instruments are located. There is big box in the rover, the size of SAM, an ideal place to put the machinery to produce water and oxygen from Martian raw materials. There are several boxes on the arm which are indicated to have a larger temperature scale to tolerate.

All I see there is a 100% copy of MSL with other instruments, but only if they have the same volume, energy consumption and mounting points like the old ones.

For an team to built an instrument a challenge, but a manageable one.

Posted by: vjkane Feb 19 2014, 05:44 AM

QUOTE (stone @ Feb 18 2014, 02:25 PM) *
All I see there is a 100% copy of MSL with other instruments, but only if they have the same volume, energy consumption and mounting points like the old ones.

In the QA to the instrument AO, NASA said they would consider instruments mounted to the outside of the rover body on a case by case basis. So some additional volume might be possible. If any proposals like this were made, they might be like the Phoenix top-of-lander instrument boxes.

Posted by: Doug M. Feb 19 2014, 01:06 PM

QUOTE (djellison @ Feb 18 2014, 04:33 PM) *
YES!! Really. It's a refly - not a redesign.


I suppose Moore's Law has become so thoroughly internalized that one's immediate, reflexive response to "it's a refly" is "except for the electronics, of course, right? right?" There are of course perfectly good reasons to use heritage electronics! It makes sense. But if you're not a professional in the field, yes, there is a moment of startle.


Doug M.


Posted by: mcaplinger Feb 19 2014, 02:16 PM

"Better is the enemy of good enough."

Posted by: djellison Feb 19 2014, 04:34 PM

QUOTE (Doug M. @ Feb 19 2014, 05:06 AM) *
I suppose Moore's Law has become so thoroughly internalized that one's immediate, reflexive response to "it's a refly" is "except for the electronics, of course, right? right?"


When it comes to spaceflight - you would probably change everything else before touching the electronics. Look at Phoenix - it flew with virtual Pathfinder like electronics. The RAD6000 has been flying for 14 years or so. 9 years now since the first RAD750 launch.


Posted by: anticitizen2 Feb 19 2014, 04:58 PM

Didn't they already fly the spare Marsdial?

Posted by: JRehling Feb 19 2014, 05:47 PM

Regarding's Doug's "Really?" to Doug:

Computer hardware has ceased its breakneck rate of accelerating speeds which was a given (Moore's Law) for decades. Commercial products continue to see incremental improvements, but not on the exponential trend which was true until about 10 years ago. For spacecraft, the value of the reliability of a known system outweighs incremental increases in performance.

It would have been unthinkable to use Ranger 7's "computer" on Cassini, but the computers on spacecraft 20 years from now might be about the same as the ones flying now.

Here's one image that sums up the trend. Note the logarithmic vertical axis.

http://smoothspan.files.wordpress.com/2007/09/clockspeeds.jpg

Posted by: craigmcg Feb 19 2014, 07:31 PM

It seems clear though, that for rovers to be more human-like in capability and speed (vs. orbiters and fly-by spacecraft that have much simpler operating modes) advances in robust, reliable computing will be one of the key enablers.

I'm sure it won't be a simple, inexpensive task to design, build and test such capability, and the market for this technology is less than niche.

Posted by: vjkane Feb 19 2014, 08:43 PM

QUOTE (craigmcg @ Feb 18 2014, 03:01 AM) *
When you are trying to fly a new mission for a cost of $1.5B (vs. $2.5B for MSL) you have to find some significant cost savings.

It's a tighter budget than that. Inflation will eat up about a third of that spending amount, so in MSL $s, the 2020 mission is closer to $1B. Tight.

Posted by: vjkane Feb 19 2014, 08:47 PM

QUOTE (JRehling @ Feb 19 2014, 09:47 AM) *
Commercial products continue to see incremental improvements, but not on the exponential trend which was true until about 10 years ago.

I used to work for Intel. The killer is heat produced by the microprocessors. The engineers could have continued to pump out the performance improvements, but we'd all be using water cooled processors. (Actually have that in my office.) The reason for multicore processors was to go for lower performance per core, but be able to run multiple tasks/threads at once.

Posted by: Doug M. Feb 20 2014, 02:30 PM

QUOTE (JRehling @ Feb 19 2014, 07:47 PM) *
Regarding's Doug's "Really?" to Doug:

Computer hardware has ceased its breakneck rate of accelerating speeds which was a given (Moore's Law) for decades. Commercial products continue to see incremental improvements, but not on the exponential trend which was true until about 10 years ago.


Yes, but current spacecraft hardware predates the flattening of the curve by a decade or more.

Again, I understand the incentives. It looks like NASA has made a reasonable choice, especially given the cost constraints. But this means that, 20 years from now in the 2030s, there will be NASA engineers poring over the design specs of chips that are older than they are. There's nothing inherently wrong with that picture. Robust technology is robust. (Consider the B-52.) But it takes a slight mental adjustment.


Doug M.

Posted by: Astro0 Feb 20 2014, 10:43 PM

>engineers poring over the design specs of chips that are older than they are

I can tell you from first hand knowledge that there are already engineers working in this field doing just that. wink.gif

Posted by: nprev Feb 20 2014, 11:04 PM

And in military aviation as well, believe me. wink.gif

Posted by: djellison Feb 20 2014, 11:58 PM

There are people operating spacecraft at JPL launched a decade before they were born. There are people driving Mars rovers that landed when they were in High School.


Posted by: Mongo Jun 25 2014, 02:03 AM

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZoSKHzziLKw

Red Dragon would work in conjunction with the Mars 2020 sample collection rover, and be ready two years earlier for far less cost than the previous baseline mission. The above image links to the 70 minute video presentation.

Larry Lemke - Red Dragon: Low Cost Access to the Surface of Mars

Published on Jun 24, 2014

Abstract: One of Ames' long standing science interests has been to robotically drill deeply into Mars' subsurface environment (2 meters, or more) to investigate the habitability of that zone for past or extant life. Large, capable Mars landers would ease the problem of landing and operating deep robotic drills. In 2010, an Ames scientist realized that the crew-carrying version of the SpaceX Dragon capsule would possess all the subsystems necessary to perform a soft landing on Earth, and raised the question of whether it could also soft land on Mars. If it could, it might be a candidate platform for a Discovery or Mars Scout class deep drilling mission, for example.

After approximately 3 years studying the engineering problem we have concluded that a minimally modified Dragon capsule (which we call the "Red Dragon") could successfully perform an all-propulsive Entry, Descent, and Landing (EDL). We present and discuss the analysis that supports this conclusion. At the upper limits of its capability, a Red Dragon could land approximately 2 metric tons of useful payload, or approximately twice the mass that the MSL Skycrane demonstrated with a useful volume 3 or 4 times as great. This combination of features led us to speculate that it might be possible to land enough mass and volume with a Red Dragon to enable a Mars Sample Return mission in which Mars Orbit Rendezvous is avoided, and the return vehicle comes directly back to Earth. This potentially lowers the risk and cost of a sample return mission. We conclude that such an Earth-Direct sample return architecture is feasible if the Earth Return Vehicle is constructed as a small spacecraft. Larry Lemke will present and discuss the analysis that supports this conclusion.

Posted by: nprev Jun 25 2014, 02:38 AM

I remember ideas along these lines being tossed around on the Forum a few years back. Glad to see that there's some serious study of the concept in work!

Posted by: DEChengst Jul 31 2014, 06:03 PM

Instruments just got announced:

http://www.nasa.gov/press/2014/july/nasa-announces-mars-2020-rover-payload-to-explore-the-red-planet-as-never-before/

A bit more detailed information about the instruments is starting to pop up:

PIXL: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?release=2014-253
SHERLOC: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?release=2014-254
MOXIE: http://newsoffice.mit.edu/2014/going-red-planet
Mastcam-Z: https://asunews.asu.edu/20140731-mars-2020

Posted by: mcaplinger Jul 31 2014, 08:32 PM

NASA Selects MSSS to Provide Science Camera for Mars 2020 Rover Mission
http://www.msss.com/news/index.php?id=121

Posted by: anticitizen2 Jul 31 2014, 09:21 PM

Is this a different organizational structure than the MSL MastCams? (Prime vs sub-contracting for MSSS?) Was MSSS part of more than one proposal?

Posted by: mcaplinger Aug 1 2014, 04:11 PM

QUOTE (anticitizen2 @ Jul 31 2014, 02:21 PM) *
Is this a different organizational structure than the MSL MastCams?

Generally the main contract is with the PI's home institution, and hardware development is subcontracted. If the PI is at the same institution as the hardware developer there only has to be one contract. We've done it both ways historically.
QUOTE
Was MSSS part of more than one proposal?

Are you asking if we were part of other proposals that lost, or other proposals that won? I can't answer either question, but in the abstract the former is usually never disclosed, and the latter would presumably become public at some point.

Posted by: mcaplinger Aug 1 2014, 04:56 PM

There's some information about SHERLOC in http://www.hou.usra.edu/meetings/georaman2014/pdf/5101.pdf

QUOTE
SHERLOC is an arm-mounted, Deep UV (DUV) resonance Raman and
fluorescence spectrometer utilizing a 248.6 - nm DUV laser and 50
micron spot size. The laser is integrated to an autofocusing/scanning
optical system, and co - boresighted to a context imager with a spatial
resolution of 30 μ m. SHERLOC operates over a 7 × 7 mm area through
use of an internal scanning mirror. The 500 micron depth of view in
conjunction with the MAHLI heritage autofocus mechanism...


Posted by: gndonald Aug 12 2014, 04:30 AM

Interesting post about the instrument fit-out on the Planetary Society blog, looks like I might get to see a Mars Sample Return in my lifetime.

QUOTE
Last week, NASA’s managers announced the selection of seven instruments for its 2020 Mars rover from a pool of 58 proposals submitted by teams of scientists. Reading through the capabilities of the instruments makes them seem like technology from science fiction, complete with lasers and x-rays. However, the types of instruments that weren’t selected say almost as much about the goals and expectations for the mission as those that were. This mission will be optimized for finding the best samples to return to Earth rather than carrying out the most sophisticated science that could have been sent to Mars.


http://www.planetary.org/blogs/guest-blogs/van-kane/0807-mars-2020-instruments.html

Posted by: Don1 Aug 22 2014, 02:50 AM

What this will be able to do will be to survey a large number of different materials for composition, mineralogy and signs of organics. It will be a good fit for a complex site with a large diversity of targets like Gale Crater. It will be able to check a lot more targets for organics than will ever be possible with Curiosity. The Raman technique should also be insensitive to perchlorates, which is a huge plus.

Posted by: TheAnt Dec 28 2014, 02:49 PM

Late reply at Don1: Yes SHERLOC will be included and it is a good instrument that will be able to get around the measurement methods used on MSL/Curiosity where we cannot be certain if the chlorobutane and chlorobenzene is actually or if they were baked together by the rover from perchlorates and other organics, (yes I am frustrated that we cannot even learn what organics that have been encountered. Like sending someone on fieldwork who do not know what an indicator species is and why it is important in any study.)
The righthand-lefthand organic and direct DNA search experiments that was in the pipeline for MSL but removed in the wild revamp to get the rover finished do not appear to be included or considered this time.

Posted by: vjkane Dec 28 2014, 05:05 PM

QUOTE (TheAnt @ Dec 28 2014, 06:49 AM) *
Yes SHERLOC will be included and it is a good instrument that will be able to get around the measurement methods used on MSL/Curiosity where we cannot be certain if the chlorobutane and chlorobenzene is actually or if they were baked together by the rover from perchlorates and other organics, (yes I am frustrated that we cannot even learn what organics that have been encountered. Like sending someone on fieldwork who do not know what an indicator species is and why it is important in any study.)
The righthand-lefthand organic and direct DNA search experiments that was in the pipeline for MSL but removed in the wild revamp to get the rover finished do not appear to be included or considered this time.

My understanding is that the 2020 instruments will be better at detecting the presence of organics than MSL, but without a mass spectrometer the rover will not be able to do detailed characterization of the organic composition. If samples are eventually returned, then that identification can be done with exquisite detail in Earth laboratories. If the samples aren't returned, then we will be left wondering what the organics are.

By using lasers, the 2020 instruments avoid the perchlorate-organic-destruction trap that comes from heating samples. There were instruments proposed that combined lasers with mass spectrometers, but they would have required the space effectively reserved for the atmospheric oxygen extraction experiment and they might have busted the instrument budget.

Posted by: TheAnt Dec 28 2014, 07:38 PM

QUOTE (vjkane @ Dec 28 2014, 06:05 PM) *
My understanding is that the 2020 instruments will be better at detecting the presence of organics than MSL, but without a mass spectrometer the rover will not be able to do detailed characterization of the organic composition. If samples are eventually returned, then that identification can be done with exquisite detail in Earth laboratories. If the samples aren't returned, then we will be left wondering what the organics are.

By using lasers, the 2020 instruments avoid the perchlorate-organic-destruction trap that comes from heating samples. There were instruments proposed that combined lasers with mass spectrometers, but they would have required the space effectively reserved for the atmospheric oxygen extraction experiment and they might have busted the instrument budget.


Yes SHERLOC is one heck of a good instrument, but not when used as a stand alone unit.
When it has been stated that organics is one priority for this mission I do indeed get a bit frustrated in reading up on what the capabilities will be of the rover.

Instruments is built by universities so there's no direct cost there, but you might mean the budget for integrating and or the power budget? To which I have to agree.
Even so I really feel something is lacking in the instrument package, I would have liked to see a mass spectrometer and some method to determine if the molecules is chiral or achiral could tell us a great deal about if they ever been part in any 'L' system at some point in the distant past or perhaps even is not of Martian origin at all but have been transported to the planet by meteorites.

But yes, SHERLOC could be used to find good samples stored for retrieval later, the problem is that a sample return mission is not even in any proposed budget what I know of.

Posted by: mcaplinger Dec 28 2014, 08:34 PM

QUOTE (TheAnt @ Dec 28 2014, 12:38 PM) *
Instruments is built by universities so there's no direct cost there...

Instruments built by universities cost NASA as much (or more) as those built by industry.

Posted by: vjkane Dec 28 2014, 11:47 PM

QUOTE (TheAnt @ Dec 28 2014, 11:38 AM) *
Instruments is built by universities so there's no direct cost there,

For NASA missions, NASA fully pays for the instruments. For ESA missions, the sponsoring nation pays, but it's still government dollars.

Posted by: TheAnt Dec 29 2014, 07:01 PM

Yes I am european, and so had the ESA way of doing things in mind when I wrote that - so I stand somewhat corrected.

Happy new year BTW. =)

Posted by: TheAnt Jan 9 2015, 11:06 PM

A compelling reason for shifting the gears on the proposed sample return mission might have turned up since http://www.astrobio.net/news-exclusive/potential-signs-ancient-life-mars-rover-photos/

Posted by: Explorer1 Jan 10 2015, 01:28 AM

A space.com interview with the science team (and let's just leave their response as the end of any more discussion!):

http://www.space.com/28218-mars-rover-curiosity-signs-life.html

Posted by: stevesliva Jan 10 2015, 05:35 AM

Since it seems to be in neither link above, http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/pdf/10.1089/ast.2014.1218

Is the whole 24-page article based purely on images? I couldn't find any mention of evidence from the other instruments, though admittedly that was a skim.

[MOD]....and, in accordance with rule 1.3, let's REALLY leave it at that, guys.

Posted by: TheAnt Jan 10 2015, 11:18 AM

QUOTE (stevesliva @ Jan 10 2015, 06:35 AM) *
Is the whole 24-page article based purely on images? I couldn't find any mention of evidence from the other instruments, though admittedly that was a skim.


Her work is based on images taken by the rover yes, Nora Noffke simply used the interpretation that we would have used here on Earth for such rocks, I am not an expert in such 'mats' yet noted it was a nicely done paper that have gone trough the peer review process as it should have.

So thank you for posting the link stevesliva, I tend to post the popular and more easy to digest ones for the average readers here, though I do read the actual papers when they're available myself. =)
As for your question, MSL do not have the capability for giving a clear answer if this interpretation is correct or not. The Sheepbed sample taken nearby was the first to turn up organics though, and that might be a reason to have a second thought on what instruments should be included on the 2020 rover mission and also consider how to bring samples back to Earth. (Suggestions which are BOTH in line with what is allowed here and the purpose and reason we discuss such matters on unmannedspaceflight.)

Posted by: mcaplinger Jan 10 2015, 03:39 PM

QUOTE (TheAnt @ Jan 10 2015, 04:18 AM) *
...a reason to have a second thought on what instruments should be included on the 2020 rover mission...

The instruments for 2020 have already been selected. It would take something much more definitive than this to change that now.

Posted by: TheAnt Jan 10 2015, 07:12 PM

QUOTE (mcaplinger @ Jan 10 2015, 04:39 PM) *
The instruments for 2020 have already been selected. It would take something much more definitive than this to change that now.



If we already had something definitive, there would not be any reason to test and check on this hypothesis. =)
But yes I know my there's not much hope for any change, too much inertia in the organisations who are behind a project like this.

Posted by: djellison Jan 11 2015, 01:24 AM

Nothing to do with institutional inertia.

Instruments of this complexity require lengthy lead times, and have significant and complex requirements of the vehicle.

Posted by: nprev Jan 11 2015, 01:35 AM

Doug is absolutely correct. Furthermore, selecting and freezing configuration as early as possible also permits as much testing as possible to happen before launch, which vastly increases the chances of mission success.

Posted by: bobik Mar 1 2015, 09:43 AM

Seemingly, the sample-caching approach gradually develops into a farce http://mepag.nasa.gov/meeting/2015-02/06_Farley.pdf. huh.gif A whole set of EDL cameras promises spectacular views http://mepag.nasa.gov/meeting/2015-02/06_Farley.pdf. smile.gif

ADMIN NOTE: A message has been sent to this member and noted here as a reminder about UMSF rule 2.6


Posted by: xflare Mar 1 2015, 11:41 AM

oooooohhhh and higher res color navcams and hazard cams. ohmy.gif ohmy.gif And a Turret Imager??

Posted by: Phil Stooke Mar 1 2015, 03:35 PM

The new cache arrangement is not a farce. It's not very intuitive at first but it has many advantages, including flexibility in pickup and more freedom (risk-taking) for the collection rover later in its mission. They are trying to avoid a rover with an almost full cache getting stuck in a place where cache collection is impossible (for instance, in a place like Hidden Valley, where the first rover could get stuck in an orientation which would prevent the second rover from collecting the cache).

Phil


Posted by: stone Mar 1 2015, 08:07 PM

The most challenging cost risk is still open. The Planetary Protection requirements definition is still not finished. From the outside it looks plain simple. Sample return makes it category 5. Even if the samples return is in the far future the samples are intended to come back. I do not see how this can be solved. Only a sterile baked sample would lead to less stringent requirements on PP, but this samples would be far less valuable and to ask for a mission to bring back baked samples is a hard job. To build a sample return category 5 mission is possible, but this will take at least two times the cost capped budget.

I wait for the solution of this problem.

Posted by: Explorer1 Mar 1 2015, 09:34 PM

Meteorites have been raining down on us from Mars for several gigayears; we can be pretty certain none of those were baked prior to landing here. If one can't trust that nature has done the sterilizing work, why bother to even have sample returns in the first place? It might be easier to just launch them into parking orbit around Mars and wait for the lab come to them (though that's a topic for a future thread, when any return mission is actually even proposed).

MOD: On that note, yes, that's enough on this subject, please. Getting close to rule 1.3 territory here.

Posted by: stone Mar 2 2015, 01:22 PM

QUOTE (Explorer1 @ Mar 1 2015, 10:34 PM) *
Meteorites have been raining down on us from Mars for several gigayears;


The problem is not with this reality, but with a signed COSPAR regulation all space agencies agreed to follow. The point in the signed rules is clear and hard to avoid. If NASA and JPL ignore this rule other space agencies might follow this path. PP is not about protecting this planet, but to protect the future science results from being made impossible by contaminating the places of interest.

I look forward to see how this problem could be solved. I do not know if a clear statement that the new mission is only about geology and the samples are heated to 550°C for 5 seconds before sealing is a solution.


Posted by: Gerald Mar 2 2015, 02:02 PM

There are standard procedures to ensure a given upper limit of spores per surface area of different parts of a probe/rover/parachute etc. to avoid forward contamination. The type of possibly remaining contamination can be determined to avoid possible confusion with Martian material.
Baking on Mars doesn't make sense in this context, since chemical compounds would be altered/destroyed, including geological/mineralogical data.
Sterilization of the probe is done pre-flight on Earth.
I don't see any reason why NASA should change these established procedures.

Posted by: stone Mar 2 2015, 02:34 PM

QUOTE (Gerald @ Mar 2 2015, 03:02 PM) *
There are standard procedures to ensure a given upper limit of spores per surface area of different parts of a probe/rover/parachute etc. to avoid forward contamination. The type of possibly remaining contamination can be determined to avoid possible confusion with Martian material.
Baking on Mars doesn't make sense in this context, since chemical compounds would be altered/destroyed, including geological/mineralogical data.
Sterilization of the probe is done pre-flight on Earth.
I don't see any reason why NASA should change these established procedures.


If you consider it to be a category 5 mission the 0.03 spares per square meter is valid. This means you have to launch a sterile rover. If you look into the MSL history, MSL avoided to go to this level which was based on the assumption that they will sample in "special regions". They stepped back and used the lower stringent requirement which was possible if they avoid special regions. They would have been able to go for the 0.03 spores but the budget they had made it impossible.

The standard procedures are good to get you into a category 4a mission which includes MSL if you do the category 4b or 5 this is not easy and makes everything very expensive. I know of no large mission except Viking daring to bake out the whole space craft at above 110°C. Most spacecrafts are not built to withstand the 110°C for days in fully integrated state. If you sterilize parts you have to do a monitored aseptic integration. The first option drives the engineering people mad and the prize you pay for materials and parts, while the second option costs an fortune if you have to have a spore and bacteria free assembly hall for the rover.

Posted by: mcaplinger Mar 2 2015, 02:59 PM

My understanding is that only the portions of the vehicle that actually touch the sample have to be IVb. http://nodis3.gsfc.nasa.gov/displayDir.cfm?Internal_ID=N_PR_8020_012D_&page_name=Chapter5

I think speculating about how Mars2020 will interpret these requirements and implement them at this point is unproductive.

Posted by: anticitizen2 Aug 4 2015, 05:51 PM

I'm glad that SHERLOC will have MAHLI heritage and will be able to focus to infinity - I had read earlier that they were dropping infinite focus.

Also, it is looking like the Navcams will be color and possibly have a larger sensor. It seemed to me that panchromatic Navcams were an advantage: being able to get lots down from a new site in one comm pass, and being able to count pixels across important features with precision. I'm mostly wondering about this last point - my gut says color Navcams will not help with their purpose as engineering cameras, but I definitely won't go so far as complaining about it.

Posted by: James Sorenson Aug 4 2015, 10:06 PM

According to this document, both the Navcams as well as the Hazcams will be color, and a possible separate "turret imager" would be included. I'm personally excited about the possible inclusion of the three EDL cameras, oh and hopefully the scout drone can make it to. smile.gif.

As far as the color engineering cameras, I seem to recall the bayer matrix can mess with either the stereo modelling on the ground, or the on board autonomy software. Seems like Paolo said something like that awhile back.

https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=http://mepag.nasa.gov/meeting/2015-02/06_Farley.pdf&ved=0CB8QFjAAahUKEwjHn9fAtJDHAhWBDZIKHZYlD-M&usg=AFQjCNHG_jsttWrrlLmL7JzxIGBa84e1IA&sig2=xo9qw3cGo5oHRq3lutIOnw

Posted by: scalbers Aug 4 2015, 10:24 PM

I would have voted to see an all-sky camera. Where does the turret imager point?

Posted by: James Sorenson Aug 4 2015, 10:37 PM

The turret imager would be like MAHLI, mounted on the arm so it could be positioned in any direction that the arm is allowed to do.

Posted by: Paolo Aug 5 2015, 11:24 AM

http://aviationweek.com/space/mars-2020-mulls-sample-preservation-strategies ADMIN: Full article requires free registration.

QUOTE
HOUSTON — While it sizes up high-value landing site candidates for its next Mars rover, NASA is developing strategies for protecting dozens of potential rock and soil samples cached on the red planet for harvest and return to Earth at some time in the future.
The Mars 2020 science objectives are to reach a landing site with ancient astrobiological potential and geological diversity, look for rocks with high potential for biosignatures, and acquire and preserve samples of rocks and some soil for future return to Earth.
Soon, the space agency expects to name an eight-member multi-disciplinary sample-return science board to gather additional advice on the most aggressive attempt yet to scrutinize samples of Mars with the latest in Earth-bound laboratory technologies. The objective is to determine if the neighboring planet was host to extensive habitable environments, such that it possibly harbored some form of life.
"The community is critical to the process," stressed planetary scientist John Grant, co-chair of NASA's Mars Landing Site Steering Committee, on Aug. 4, opening day of a three-day workshop on the site selection process in Monrovia, California, near the project's NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory headquarters. A second workshop is expected to reduce 30 potential landing-site candidates to eight, some of which may need additional scrutiny from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and other spacecraft circling or on the surface of the red planet. A third workshop planned for next year will attempt to cut the list of candidates to three or four sites.
Mars 2020, a $1.5 billion mission using hardware similar to the more expensive Mars Curiosity rover now exploring Mount Sharp, is scheduled for launch in July or August of 2020, with a landing in February 2021. Curiosity marks its third anniversary on the red planet on Aug. 6.
Early in its Gusev Crater roving, Curiosity established the presence of potentially habitable environments, setting the scientific table for its more ambitious sibling.
"One thing I must emphasize," Ken Farley, the Mars 2020 project scientist, told the opening session of NASA's 2nd Landing Site Workshop. "These are all equal goals. We must do all of these."
Using the same landing technique that produced Curiosity's "seven minutes of terror," the Mars 2020 rover will aim for a 10 X 8.75-mi. landing ellipse, where it can use its mobility to explore two "regions of interest."
As the landing-site selection process moves forward, NASA will evaluate whether to incorporate a terrain relative navigation (TRN) system into the entry, descent and landing system that would allow the descending rover to move slightly to avoid a previously unrecognized ground hazard. The TRN option is funded at least through the project's Preliminary Design Review in early 2016, Farley said.
The rover will be equipped with as many as 50 sample tubes, with at least 20 assigned to samples gathered during the rover's primary mission and the remainder available for potential extended operations.
The rover's seven primary science instruments were selected last July.
Most of the samples will be cored from rocks and all cached in sealable metal tubes. Mars 2020 will not be able to analyze the samples by itself, but could examine the walls of the rocks where the samples were extracted. The samples gathered from the first region of interest will be placed on the open terrain at a pre-specified caching depot. The Mars 2020 rover will then move on to the second region of interest for additional sample gathering and later return to the same caching depot to drop off the new samples.
The open exposure of the rover has raised concerns that surface temperatures on Mars could become high enough, especially if a landing site in the Martian southern hemisphere is selected, to degrade the cached samples before they can be gathered and returned to Earth.
"We are investigating how to deal with this," Farley said.
The current strategy is to coat the sealed tubes with aluminum oxide to reduce the excessive temperature threat to long-term preservation.
Still, the fate of the samples is unclear. NASA is focused on the human exploration of Mars in the mid-2030s; that would provide one possible means of transporting them back to Earth. Previous attempts to mount a robotic sample-return mission have been thwarted by technical and cost obstacles.

Posted by: climber Aug 5 2015, 08:36 PM

Gusev crater? Hum...

Posted by: Explorer1 Aug 6 2015, 01:46 AM

I think that sentence is assuming once samples are back Martian orbit. Though I wonder if the possible reworking of the ARM (for a Phobos/Deimos target) could do get two birds with one stone...

Posted by: climber Oct 22 2016, 07:06 AM

Hardware starts to come together


Posted by: elakdawalla Oct 24 2016, 03:09 PM

https://twitter.com/AbigailAllwood/status/789664079145082880. Don't forget sourcing and crediting, folks. It's one thing that makes this a quality forum.

Posted by: PaulM Feb 11 2017, 08:59 PM

QUOTE (climber @ Aug 5 2015, 09:36 PM) *
Gusev crater? Hum...

The rover could use a brush on her robot arm to clean Spirits solar panels to reboot Spirit. laugh.gif

Posted by: Explorer1 Feb 12 2017, 01:32 AM

Looks like the favorite is another crater, with actually verified lake: http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2017/02/jezero-crater-most-popular-scientific-target-mars-nasa-s-2020-rover

Its pronounced Yezero, by the way. I know the language, trust me wink.gif

Posted by: Sean Feb 12 2017, 02:10 AM

Here is a HiRISE/HRSC/CTX composite...

https://flic.kr/p/Rtmbn9

...and a zoomable 200 megapixel version...

http://www.gigapan.com/gigapans/195999


*edit:updated with new version*

Posted by: Gladstoner Feb 12 2017, 11:30 PM

QUOTE (Explorer1 @ Feb 11 2017, 07:32 PM) *
Looks like the favorite is another crater, with actually verified lake: http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2017/02/jezero-crater-most-popular-scientific-target-mars-nasa-s-2020-rover

Its pronounced Yezero, by the way. I know the language, trust me wink.gif

Very interesting site. For reference, a wide view of Jezero Crater:



(Source: http://www.leonarddavid.com/go-ahead-given-for-nasas-next-mars-rover-new-details-of-mission/ )

The alluvial fan, superficially at least, looks like a crevasse splay from the main channel.

Posted by: Sean Feb 13 2017, 05:29 AM

Click thru to see a video made with the same data...

https://flic.kr/p/QQTucF






Posted by: Julius Feb 13 2017, 08:12 AM

My main concern is the numerous sand dunes which could render the movement of the rover across the crater floor somewhat difficult up to the the delta river deposit. Otherwise Jezero crater seems o be an excellent choice.

Posted by: algorimancer Feb 13 2017, 09:59 PM

It seems to me that, in terms of potential biology, lakes on Mars are parallels of islands on Earth. Simply per the species-area relationship, most species on Earth are on continents rather than islands, and many species are physically isolated from islands. On Mars I would expect the bulk of any biology to have been in the northern ocean, with perhaps something going on around Hellas in the south. Lakes on Mars would be very isolated, like remote islands in the pacific, very physically isolated in terms of biology. Hellas would have been like Australia, but more isolated.

With this in mind, preserved biological remnants from the early Mars seem most likely to be found in deltaic sediments along the edges of the putative northern ocean. Alternatively, near the remnants of hot springs which would have been on the floor of that ocean. A location which combines access to both of these things would be ideal.

Posted by: Explorer1 Feb 14 2017, 08:54 PM

2018 is the Insight launch; this rover is locked in for 2020. The only other mission on schedule for next year is Red Dragon (I'm assuming there have been no delays).

Posted by: Phil Stooke Feb 14 2017, 10:28 PM

My understanding - second hand, I don't have a direct line to SpaceX - is that 2018 is "off the table" now for Red Dragon. Too much other stuff going on. That gives them more time to get some instruments or experiments added to it.


Posted by: PhilipTerryGraham Feb 15 2017, 06:31 AM

QUOTE (Julius @ Feb 13 2017, 07:12 PM) *
My main concern is the numerous sand dunes which could render the movement of the rover across the crater floor somewhat difficult up to the the delta river deposit.


Hrmmm... how would one compare the dunes near the delta to the ones traversed by Curiosity in Gale crater?

Posted by: vjkane Feb 16 2017, 08:55 PM

Jezero Crater and NE Syrtis are only about 50 km apart. Does anyone know if there's been an analysis of whether in an a long extended mission, the rover could go from one to another?

Posted by: Explorer1 Feb 16 2017, 10:01 PM

Oppy got to 44 kilometres two weeks ago, so not impossible. RTGs would start to decay after a while though limiting power in a few solar panels are immune to...

Another issue is this is a sample return mission, and if caches are scattered all over, future missions would have to replicate the traverse. Or else using up all the tubes at one location, and just using the onboard remote sensing instruments at the other. Not exactly optimal!

Posted by: vjkane Feb 17 2017, 07:02 AM

QUOTE (Explorer1 @ Feb 16 2017, 02:01 PM) *
Oppy got to 44 kilometres two weeks ago, so not impossible. RTGs would start to decay after a while though limiting power in a few solar panels are immune to...

Another issue is this is a sample return mission, and if caches are scattered all over, future missions would have to replicate the traverse. Or else using up all the tubes at one location, and just using the onboard remote sensing instruments at the other. Not exactly optimal!

I presume that if something like this happened, the prime mission including sample caching would be completed in the primary site before heading for any secondary sites.

There may also be many interesting sites between the two primary sites. I expect that neither of the teams proposing either of these sites will talk about extended missions, but will instead focus on the advantage of their preferred site. That said, the team proposing the Columbia Hills site is discussing extended mission possibilities. I believe that this may be because the diversity of science in the Columbia Hills is less than at the other sites.

Posted by: Roby72 Mar 16 2017, 11:53 PM

Mars 2020 rover still under strong support:

https://spaceflightnow.com/2017/03/16/trump-budget-blueprint-focuses-on-deep-space-exploration-commercial-partnerships/

Robert

Posted by: MrNatural Apr 11 2017, 10:25 AM

QUOTE (bobik @ Mar 1 2015, 09:43 AM) *
Seemingly, the sample-caching approach gradually develops into a farce http://mepag.nasa.gov/meeting/2015-02/06_Farley.pdf. huh.gif A whole set of EDL cameras promises spectacular views http://mepag.nasa.gov/meeting/2015-02/06_Farley.pdf. smile.gif

ADMIN NOTE: A message has been sent to this member and noted here as a reminder about UMSF rule 2.6


Not a farce, but a complex and intriguing issue. The original motivation appears to be the Planetary Science Decadal Survey requirement for the next Mars mission to support the Mars Sample Return mission. Unfortunately the budget does not support the followup missions with the Mars Ascent Vehicle (MAV) so we are left with a quandary.

There are two ways to support the MAV, one is to have 2020 do all the roving and bring the samples to the MAV and the other way is to land another rover in addition to the MAV to pick up the samples. This is where it get interesting; the first case is a lot cheaper but, the 2020 rover has to survive long enough to be able to get to the MAV. The second case, landing another rover with the MAV, is a lot more expensive but more likely to succeed; however I suspect that Planetary scientists would be loath to land a second rover in the same place unless the potential was truly exceptional. Then there is the issue of degradation of the samples; the longer it takes to get the MAV to the 2020 location, the less compelling the samples become. At some point one has to wonder if we are sending a MAV with a rover, we might as well have the rover drill fresh samples.

Posted by: JRehling Apr 12 2017, 06:10 PM

There are indeed big determinations to be made on how to proceed, and it's unusual to have the execution begin before the planning has ended. But this seems quite viable… if the rocks sat on Mars for over a billion years, what's 10 or 20 more before we examine them on Earth? Is there some worry about forward contamination from the canister?

The return mechanisms are surely precious and need to be used as carefully as possible. If a rover does not manage to collect promising samples, it would be an extravagance to return those samples anyway.

I wonder if it would be possible for a return architecture to return samples from two locations with one return vehicle. If samples are returned to Mars orbit from two locations, the geometry would support the orbit being selected to overfly both locations. We could potentially have two orbiting sample canisters in almost the same orbit, allowing one return vehicle to collect both.

So I wonder about this architecture:

• Send rovers to promising locations, and cache the most promising samples at each.
• Continue this until at least two locations are deemed to have met the expectations of sufficient interest.
• Send surface-to-orbit missions to the two most promising locations (two of two, two of three, however it turns out) and send those samples into nearly identical locations in a very similar orbit. Perhaps even have them dock in Mars orbit.
• Launch the Earth-Mars orbit-Earth mission to retrieve those samples.

This minimizes risk by allowing for failures along the way, postponing future launches until the success of the preliminary missions is assured.

Posted by: Phil Stooke Apr 12 2017, 06:48 PM

"At some point one has to wonder if we are sending a MAV with a rover, we might as well have the rover drill fresh samples."

The sample-collection rover and the 'fetch' rover would be very different - maybe nearly as different as MSL and MER. That is why the strategy makes sense.

Regarding multiple samples, that is why I favour caching samples on Phobos using an airbag-style landing system, and having them collected by the first human crew in an Apollo 10-style mission. Multiple samples could be collected, by multiple partners, over a decade or so, and all picked up at once.

https://www.hou.usra.edu/meetings/lpsc2014/pdf/1043.pdf

https://www.hou.usra.edu/meetings/lpsc2014/eposter/1043.pdf



Phil

Posted by: djellison Apr 12 2017, 10:25 PM

So the Phobos caching thing......I see the attraction - but that costs a LOT of delta-V above just entering LMO, especially if you're not launching from an equatorial site..... and rendezvous with Phobos is probably trickier than just an LMO rendezvous . Just park all your samples in a sun sync polar orbit and picking them all up even with crew would be easier than having to rendezvous with and land on Phobos to collect them

(Just pitched Phobos cache as an idea to a JPL mission designer and traj analyst)

Posted by: hendric Apr 13 2017, 04:15 PM

Yeah, the Oberth effect makes it more fuel efficient to do a departure burn or plane-change burn from a lower orbit. I guess the orbit would be a sunrise/sunset synchronous orbit? That would make it cheaper to depart vs a noon/midnight orbit.

Posted by: PaulH51 May 23 2017, 09:23 AM

PIA21635: NASA's Mars 2020 Rover Artist's Concept #1


Photojournal Page https://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/PIA21635
Full res JPEG https://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/jpeg/PIA21635.jpg

Posted by: Sean May 23 2017, 11:31 AM

I hope they release a 3D model soon.

Posted by: MrNatural Aug 13 2017, 03:45 AM

QUOTE (JRehling @ Apr 12 2017, 07:10 PM) *
… if the rocks sat on Mars for over a billion years, what's 10 or 20 more before we examine them on Earth? Is there some worry about forward contamination from the canister?...


No, the worry is about exposure to cosmic rays, solar wind, and day-night temperature cycles. Also perchlorates might winkle their way into the samples (unlikely). Of course, if the drill is only a few inches long or if the samples are very well shielded then the point may be moot. If not and the samples are coming from further underground then this could be a factor in breaking down any organic chemicals that might be in the samples.

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