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Venus Express, Mars Express Mission Extension Approved
cndwrld
post Feb 23 2007, 03:41 PM
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The Science Programme Committee (SPC) of the European Space Agency (ESA) has today approved the mission extensions for Venus Express and Mars Express.

This means that both missions are funded for operations through May 2009.


For Venus Express, the long term mission operation plans are completed through October 2007. Work will now begin on the long term planning for the extended mission, and this will be one topic for discussion at the upcoming Science Working Team meeting in March. This period will also include moving the Venus Express Science Operations Center from the European Science and Technology Center in Noordwijk, The Netherlands to Villafranca, Spain, located about 30 Km west of Madrid.

For the medium term (monthly) planning, Medium Term Plan (MTP) 13 planning is completed, and MTP 14 is almost completed. MTP 15 planning will be completed in March.

Short term operations currently have commands being executed for Medium Term Plan 11, and we'll be entering month 12 commanding soon.

Best regards-

Don Merritt


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brianc
post Feb 23 2007, 06:40 PM
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As European Tax Payers it's just a real shame we get virtually nothing back from ESA in terms of public accessibility to information in comparison with the open NASA Policy. Do you think one day that they might get the message about making data freely available, or are we banging our heads against a brick wall ?
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tedstryk
post Feb 23 2007, 07:24 PM
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I spoke with the VMC team leader (on another matter, actually), and he expressed frustration at not being able to release more. That instrument has required a lot of troubleshooting, and the team is so understaffed that the only way they could release more is by not planning as many image sequences - in other words, give up data in order to prepare the release. I think that it may simply be that the ESA and European space agency bureaucrats do not consider public relations as high a priority as NASA does in doling out funding. To be fair, they have figured out some things that I really wish NASA would - like the virtue of reusing spacecraft/instrument designs a la MEx/VEx/and to some degree Rosetta. But I think they are behind the curve on the importance of minor, frequent releases to help the public follow the mission.

Hence it is not funded, and you end up with situations like you have with the VMC team. They are preparing a paper for an upcoming conference, and there should be a public release associated with that. They have to give that sort of thing priority, because if they fail to publish results in the scientific community, that would destroy their chances of ever getting to fly an instrument again (the same would be true for NASA).


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dvandorn
post Feb 23 2007, 07:39 PM
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QUOTE (brianc @ Feb 23 2007, 12:40 PM) *
As European Tax Payers it's just a real shame we get virtually nothing back from ESA in terms of public accessibility to information in comparison with the open NASA Policy. Do you think one day that they might get the message about making data freely available, or are we banging our heads against a brick wall ?

But, guys, note that it's not just the general public who are in the dark about the data being collected by VEx. Please note the opening in another thread from someone actually working VEx Mission Science Operations:
QUOTE
For those who want to know more about what Venus Express is doing, I can provide some information on the science operations planning.

I cannot provide any science results. Science data is processed by the individual Principal Investigators in charge of each instrument. It is hoped that an issue of Nature will be done in the near future which will focus on the VEX science results from year one, and we are all looking forward to that.

Cheers-

Don Merritt
VEX Science Operations Center

Here is someone who seems to have responsibilities in the planning of continued science operations, and yet he is waiting for an issue of Nature to come out to see what results the individual PIs are seeing!

Correct me if I'm mistaken, but it appears that science operations planning is being done without the benefit of much in the way of data getting leaked back to the planners by the PIs.

Seems to me this is a system that grants the PIs *far* too much power and secrecy. They are guaranteed a lion's share of the credit for any discoveries made by their experiments, they ought not be so paranoid about anyone other than themselves seeing anything beyond what The Wizard decides to allow us to see in His published works... *sigh*...

-the other Doug


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elakdawalla
post Feb 23 2007, 08:26 PM
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Guys, I think it's counterproductive to complain about ESA's various public relations policies in a thread that was, after all, started by an ESA employee to share information with us that wasn't yet available elsewhere. There is a thread for those complaints.

Thank you, Don, for taking the time to post updates here on the status of ESA missions. Can you explain why the mission operations for VEx are being moved to Spain?

--Emily


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cndwrld
post Mar 5 2007, 12:40 PM
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Hi, Emily-

Regarding:
>Thank you, Don, for taking the time to post updates here on the status of ESA missions. Can you explain >why the mission operations for VEx are being moved to Spain?

First off, a Thank You? I'm shocked. You're most welcome.

As for the move, this took place far above my pay grade but I can mention a few things. The ESAC facility in Spain currently houses the science operations for astronomy missions. The Spanish government was interested in bringing more ESA work into Spain and expanding the ESAC facility. So one result was that science operations for both astronomy and planetary science operations will be put into the same place. The operations for Rosetta, Mars Express and Venus Express will all be down there. And now that Bepi/Columbo has been approved, it will eventually end up there, too.

Hope that helps-

Don Merritt


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cndwrld
post Mar 5 2007, 12:42 PM
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The official announcement of the VEX and MEX extensions:

ESA extends two spacecraft missions
United Press International
February 27, 2007

PARIS, France (UPI) -- The European Space Agency extended its Mars Express and Venus Express missions until May 2009.

The mission extensions announced Tuesday were unanimously approved by the ESA`s Science Program Committee last Friday.

The ESA said the committee`s action was in recognition of the outstanding legacy that Mars Express and Venus Express are building for future generations of scientists.

Both missions have allowed an amazing amount of scientific discoveries of the highest quality, the space agency said.

Results achieved by Mars Express so far include the first subsurface radar sounding of another planet; and the first comprehensive study of the mineralogical composition of a planet`s surface.

Venus Express, only halfway through its initially planned nominal mission, has revealed features never detected in such detail before.
Those include the huge, 'double-eyed' atmospheric vortex at Venus South Pole and its 3-D structure.

Mars Express was launched June 2, 2003, and reached Mars six months later. Venus Express was launched Nov. 9, 2005, and arrived to its destination after a five-month journey.


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lyford
post Mar 5 2007, 04:16 PM
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Extended mission are two words that I always like hearing. Keep the good news coming, cndwrld! smile.gif


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edstrick
post Mar 6 2007, 07:43 AM
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Does that mean they're also EXTENDING the time before they have to release more than a dribble ? <ducks>
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