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vjkane2000
I found the following teaser lead-in on Aerospace Daily's web site (you have to subscribe to get the whole thing, and I don't have that kind of money!):

Mars Scout Program To Seek More Money For 2011 Mission

Aerospace Daily & Defense Report 08/22/2005
NASA's Mars Scout program is seeking more money in its fiscal 2007 budget request to allow for the per-mission cost cap to be raised from its original level of $325 million to a level above $400 million. "I've recognized that that is an inadequate amount of money to get a reasonable-risk mission to Mars," Mars Exploration Program Director Doug McCuistion told The DAILY. "It's just not as cheap as flying low-Earth orbit stuff. And therefore I intend to increase the cap over what it was."
BruceMoomaw
Oh, yeah -- Samad Hayati was singing that song sad and long back at the
first Mars Roadmap meeting, saying flatly that there is no way any more
Scout lander missions besides Phoenix could be financed under the current
cap. But where are they going to get the moola (or the money for the
comparable cap hike that NASA badly wants for the Discovery program)? At
this point, Griffin must be feeling about Shuttle/Station pretty much the
way Lizzie Borden felt about her parents: his fingers are simply itching to
get his hands on that ax and give it 40 whacks.
vjkane2000
I expect that we'll see fewer but pricier (and hence more capable and/or more reliable) Scout and Discovery missions fitted into what is essentially a stable budget line.

My prediction for the coming decade is 2 more Scout missions and 3 Discovery missions (and 1 New Frontiers) in addition to the already approved missions.
djellison
Here's a challenge - what would you propose to fly in '11?

With 350-400 $M - the options are limited. An orbiter on the scale of Odyssey would drop in well under budget - a lander is going to be difficult .

I think I'd try and do SAR, and if possible, squeeze more downlink out of it - something up to 288 or 512 kbps would be an achievment.

Doug
dvandorn
Now, there's an idea -- a Mars orbiter with a synthetic aperature radar, a really *huge* fat data pipe back to Earth, and a big gas tank for orbital maneuvering. Put it into a Molniya-type orbit around Mars (very high apoares, very low periares) with the high point over the MSL landing site. Do really good SAR work on the low point of the orbit and use the thing as a relay for MSL during its long climb and fall to/from its high point.

Use the really big gas tank to change its line of nodes on occasion, to change the area where the periares occurs and maximize the usefulness of the SAR. After all, you can shift the low point of such an orbit quite a bit and still keep it high in the sky over nearly half of the planet, most of the time.

Oh, and postpone MSL from 2009 to 2011, and then you have the proper telecom relay *and* good SAR capability at Mars.

-the other Doug
vjkane2000
An obvious candidate would be to follow up on the discover of the methane with an orbiter that can pinpoint locations of high concentration. The MARVEL mission proposed last time would have done that.

I'd expect the losing teams from the previous Scout competition will also submit new proposals. In addition to MARVEL, those were a dust sample return and an airplane.

A SAR mission to look beneath the dust/sand is another option. Perhaps could be matched with the former idea.

A network of small landers has always been a favorite of the scientific crowd for seismic and meteorology studies. Beagle 2 failed with a budget of ~$100M. For $400M you could probably could design small landers that work and build 3-4 of them. Fitting an orbiter in on that budget would be hard to impossible. Might be possible with foreign cooperation (e.g., the French supply the landers planned for Netlander).

If you can design a small lander, you could put several Soujourner-size rovers on the surface (at the expense of dropping the network science). With today's technology, you would get a much better rover than Soujourner, but less capable than MER. But, you could ground-truth more sites.

And then there will be all the clever ideas that we'd never think of that the science community will propose. I'd be surprised, for example, if there isn't a balloon proposal.

But, my money is on MARVEL unless Phoenix finds that the methane isotopes indicate a non-biological origin. Don't know if those results would be in in time to effect the mission selection
BruceMoomaw
My money is definitely on MARVEL, too -- even the Mars Strategic Roadmap group suggested (though not mandating) a methane-mapper as the next Scout. Moreover, the spacecraft is a barely modified copy of Odyssey, whose design has now been thoroughly flight-tested.

Also, there's another good reason to make the next Scout an orbiter. As "Space News" pointed out in a recent editorial, now that MTO is cancelled, if MRO fails the com link of the MSL rover will hinge entirely on a 9-year-old Odyssey. Unless, that is, we make the second Scout an orbiter, add com relay equipment to it (which would be easy), and launch it before or simultaneously with the MSL. (That idea is not Space News', but my own -- but surely people at NASA have thought of it in the current situation.)

As for a Scout SAR orbiter of Mars: there was a proposal to do exactly that submitted during the earlier round. "Mars Scout Radar" would have used another copy of the MCO/Odyssey spacecraft (you can see the details at http://techreports.jpl.nasa.gov/2003/03-1627.pdf ). Its main reason for not making the finalist list may have been its need for a 20-meter radar antenna -- but I think something like it has an excellent chance of flying to Mars and/or Venus in the fairly near future. But I think it would probably be impossible to also cram a methane-mapping instrument onto it. (By the way, one instrument initially planned for MARVEL, which got the boot during its design process because of cost, was a microwave spectrometer to pinpoint the sources of any emissions detected by its solar-occultation IR spectrometer. Given the confirmation of methane emissions since the first Scout selection, that instrument may very well end up getting back onto it.)
gpurcell
What about SCIM? That seemed like a really interesting concept...and being able to fully characterize the dust of the Martian atmosphere will be critical....
BruceMoomaw
SCIM would be high on my list, too. But I don't think it's quite as high-priority for the second Mars Scout as a methane-mapper/com-relay -- which, besides its importance as the latter, would serve as an important guide in picking sites for major near-future landers. On the other hand, either it or a low-cost seismic network would be a great choice as the third Scout (assuming we're still years away from a full-scale sample-return by 2015, as now seems likely).

As for characterizing martian atmospheric dust: the characterizations of it listed as important for a human precursor mission could also be done with in-situ instruments. (Which, I will add, could be carried piggyback on science landers -- I've always thought the Mars Human Precursor series had questionable validity, and apparently Griffin agrees with me since he's delayed it for an uncertain period of time).
Redstone
The full text of the article is now available at Aviationnow

QUOTE (Aviationnow.com)
The current cost estimate for Phoenix is $386 million. That amount includes $20 million inserted into the program to help incorporate lessons learned from the entry, descent and landing of the Mars Exploration Rovers, which occurred after the Scout proposals were written.

Does anyone know what the lesson was? And why $20 million was needed to address it?
djellison
I like SCIM a lot - but I have worries over our knowledge of the atmospheric density at high altitudes. We were suprised by the MER descent profiles - and having a play in Orbiter - all be it a very primative simulation - a tiny difference in altitude could make a HUGE difference in the delta-v imparted by the high altitude pass.

Using one scenario - an altitude of 36km sees an incoming spacecraft crash into the surface, 37km breaking into a low orbit, 40k break into a very eliptical orbit, and 41km 'scims' striaght on through.

Of course the planes are very very sexy missions but astonishingly short lived.

I think an orbiter with a creative means to get good downlink to earth would be a sure fire winner if they fitted an electra payload onto it - regardless of its scientific credentials.

Doug
gpurcell
QUOTE (djellison @ Aug 23 2005, 02:40 PM)
Of course the planes are very very sexy missions but astonishingly short lived.
*


Honestly, I'm utterly unconvinced about the value of the Mars plane proposals. I just don't see the science return as coming close to justifying the risk in the inherent designs.

Interesting on how sensitive SCIM might be to variations in Mars' atmosphere.
antoniseb
In the timeframe we're talking about the MARVEL mission sounds like it would return some useful information. Longer term, I'd be interested in a mission that plants a sample analysis lab on Mars that would let us determine the composition and age of samples. I'd like to know more about why the Volcanos formed in just one isolated part of Mars, and when exactly they formed.

Currently though the focus seems to be on identifying locations for life (if any) on Mars. MARVEL seems to be designed to help a little (but provide nothing conclusive) on both these fronts.
BruceMoomaw
Those unpleasant surprises the MERs got during their entry and landing is precisely the reason for the $20 million price hike on Phoenix. The only thing that saved both MERs from likely disaster was the ability to reprogram their landing procedure from Earth at the last minute, and specifically their parachute-opening altitude, in accord with the latest estimates of air density -- a capacity that Phoenix originally did not have, and which has now been added to it. (The MERs' descent rate during entry was also fully three times greater than expected, and the suspicion is that major high-altitude clear air turbulence was the cause -- something akin to the startling high-altitude CAT that Huygens encountered over Titan.)
exobioquest
A orbiter has several advantages
1. less risky and cheap
2. With a Electra it makes another data relay, and with MSL likely to still be active after 2011 the more relays the better, if they could get that laser comm experiment from MTO in that would be great.

I like the Mars atmosphere sampler. It could be cheap and risk may seem reduced after stardust's success.

I really would like a CryoScout, buts itís likely not going to be cheap and is very risky, but if it finds life then money won't be tight in the mars budget anymore!
djellison
Personally, I like the concept of SCIM if they try again, the science from just a CC of returned martian atmosphere would be huge.

Doug
ljk4-1
NASA LaRC Solicitation: Teaming Opportunity for a Mars Aerial Platform Scout
Mission (MARS)

http://www.spaceref.com/news/viewsr.html?pid=19651

"The Mars Scout AO is expected to be released in April 2006 with the step-1
proposal due 90 days later. Multiple complete mission proposals will be
selected to proceed to step-2 (Phase A), with a single mission selected for
implementation. A launch date in 2011 is planned."
vjkane2000
I am at the AGU conference in San Francisco to present on topic totally unrelated to space (unless you count the Landsat image of Pacific Northwest forests). I took a stroll down the Mars poster session and came across an unannounced Mars scout poster (hence, no abstract) about a mission that would essentially replicate the Grace gravity mission at Mars. One of the selling points is that it would enable the measurement of mass gain/loss at the poles from ice and in soils throughout the planet from absorption of water and gas throughout a Martian year. This is very similar to the types of results reported here for terrestrial systems: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.cfm?release=2006-146. The spacecraft would also have an IR spectrometer for measuring water and carbon dioxide but not methane in the atmosphere. The mission would also have considerable benefits for geological studies, but the poster emphasized the climatological studies, apparently to create more support for the mission.

Unfortunately, I didn't think to get names of the proposal or PI. My apologies.

The presenter (an engineer from Ball) did say that the finalists will be announced sometime between next Monday and January 8.
edstrick
That may also be similar to a proposed lunar orbiting super precise gravity measuring mission that has been proposed recently for a post Lunar Recon Orbiter and International Moon-Fleet mission.

Any low altitude mission like that should also include magnetometers on both spacecraft to better measure the magnetic anonaly pattern and the dynamic response of Mars to field fluctuations (probing the electrical conductivity of the interior).
remcook
Doesn't GRACE require very precise orbit determination with GPS? How will they do that for Mars? I guess the accuracy for a Mars mission will be lower.
vjkane2000
No magnetometer. I think that to measure the remnant surface fields, you need to be lower than their planned ~200km orbit.

As for precisely determing the location without GPS, I was told that the relative position of the two orbiters is what matters, not the absolute position.
remcook
QUOTE (vjkane2000 @ Dec 13 2006, 02:50 PM) *
As for precisely determing the location without GPS, I was told that the relative position of the two orbiters is what matters, not the absolute position.



some links saying it is important. They don't exactly say why:

http://www.csr.utexas.edu/grace/science/te...l/science2.html
http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2002cosp.meetE3193K

The relative position will give you the gravity gradient. I guess errors in your reference position will give you errors in the subsequent determination of the gravity field. Not sure how important it is though. May not be important at all in this case.

I'm just interested in how it would work for Mars. How well is the gravity field of Mars known anyway?
AlexBlackwell
What I would love to see selected is a concept very similar to one that I know was proposed in the first Mars Scout AO solicitation: an uncompromising, dedicated panchromatic imaging mission with an ~200 km periapsis throughout the mission and which would offer 5X HiRISE resolution over a higher percentage of Mars.

Now that would keep the image boffins here occupied, wouldn't it? tongue.gif
AlexBlackwell
NASA Selects Proposals for Future Mars Missions and Studies
RELEASE: 07-03
January 8, 2007

EDIT: Congrats to our own Alan Stern and his Great Escape team for moving from the Mars Scout swimsuit competition to the talent contest biggrin.gif

The selected MoO for ExoMars looks interesting, as do the two technology development proposals.
tuvas
After reading through these posts, I'm of the tendency to agree that an orbiter is what is needed. The space plane idea sounds really cool at Mars, but unless it could stay aloft for several days, it would hardly be able to get any useful information out of it. Unless the plane was meant to somehow land on Mars and transmit the data via relay to Earth, well, I just can't see that much good coming from it. I'm of the mind that we'll have landers enough for a while, I've realized that the next two missions to Mars are landers, and we aren't that large on orbiters at the moment...

Of course, Mars already has alot going for it with orbiters, but I would agree that an Odyssey style orbiter could do alot of good. Odyssey seems to have the mind to do the stuff that Scientists like, and not the general public, in the same way that Phoenix will do that. This isn't to say that they can't do great science, because they are both capable of such, but it's not the pretty pictures that the general public associates with the outer planets. Still, I would definately say that the next mission should be an orbiter, just to make sure we still have enough relay capacity for future landers for some time to come.
lastof7
Previous press reports listed Lockheed Martin as developing the spacecraft bus for MAVEN. Anyone know who is developing the bus for The Great Escape?
Mariner9
Just so I'm clear on this: unless I missed it, the press release never actually said if these missions are landers, orbiters, or some sort of atmospherice entry probes.

I'm guessing that based on the descriptions in the announcement that both finalists are orbiters.

Is that correct?
Mariner9
OK, you'd think I could just have Googled it first before asking.

I just went and found a couple references to both missions. They seem to be very similar orbiter missions (at least in terms of goals) for studying the upper atmosphere and trying to figure out where did most of the atmosphere go these last 4 billion odd years.
Bob Shaw
Here's the NASA Press Release:

Guy Webster 818-354-6278

Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.



Dwayne Brown 202-358-1726

NASA Headquarters, Washington



News Release: 2007-002 Jan. 8, 2007



NASA Selects Proposals for Future Mars Missions and Studies



On Monday, NASA selected for concept study development two proposals for future robotic missions to Mars. These missions would increase understanding of Mars' atmosphere, climate and potential habitability in greater detail than ever before.

In addition, NASA will fund a U.S. scientist to participate in a proposed European Mars mission, as well as fund instrument technology studies that could lead to further contributions to future Mars missions.

"These mission selections represent unprecedented future research that will lead to further advancing our knowledge and understanding of the red planet's climate, and atmospheric composition," said Dr. Mary Cleave, associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, NASA Headquarters, Washington.

Each Mars mission proposal will receive initial funding of approximately $2 million to conduct a nine-month implementation feasibility study. Following these detailed mission concept studies, NASA intends to select one of the two proposals by late 2007 for full development as a Mars Scout mission. The mission developed for flight would have a launch opportunity in 2011 and cost no more than $475 million.


The selected Mars mission proposals are:

-- Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution mission, or Maven: The mission would provide first-of-its-kind measurements, address key questions about Mars climate and habitability, and improve understanding of dynamic processes in the upper Martian atmosphere and ionosphere. The principal investigator is Dr. Bruce Jakosky, University of Colorado, Boulder. NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md., will provide project management.

-- The Great Escape mission: The mission would directly determine the basic processes in Martian atmospheric evolution by measuring the structure and dynamics of the upper atmosphere. In addition, potentially biogenic atmospheric constituents such as methane would be measured. The principal investigator is Dr. Alan Stern, Southwest Research Institute, Boulder, Colorado. Southwest Research Institute, San Antonio, will provide project management.

NASA has selected Dr. Alian Wang of Washington University, St. Louis, to participate as a member of the science team for the European Space Agency's ExoMars mission. Wang will receive approximately $800,000 to study the chemistry, mineralogy and astrobiology of Mars using instrumentation on the ExoMars mission, scheduled for launch in 2013.

NASA also has selected two proposals for technology development studies that may lead to further NASA contributions to ExoMars or other Mars missions. The two technology development studies, funded for a total of $1.5 million, are:

-- Urey Mars Organic and Oxidant Detector: The Urey instrument would investigate organics and oxidant materials on Mars using three complementary detection systems. The principal investigator is Dr. Jeffrey Bada, University of California at San Diego. The instrument would be built and managed at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

-- Mars Organic Molecule Analyzer, or Moma: The instrument would investigate organic molecular signatures and the environment in which they exist using a mass spectrometer and gas chromatograph. The principal investigator is Dr. Luann Becker, University of California at Santa Barbara.

These selections were judged to have the best science value among 26 proposals submitted to NASA in August 2006 in response to an open announcement of opportunity.

The Mars Scout program is an initiative for innovative, relatively low-cost missions selected on a competitive basis.

NASA's Mars Exploration Program seeks to characterize and understand Mars as a dynamic system, including its present and past environment, climate cycles, geology and biological potential. The Mars Exploration Program Office is managed by JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, for the Mars Exploration Program, Science Mission Directorate, Washington.

For information about NASA and agency programs, visit http://www.nasa.gov .


- end -




Bob Shaw
monitorlizard
Interesting that both of the Scout orbiter proposals would do much of the atmospheric science that has been suggested for a 2013 Mars science/telecommunications orbiter. I wonder if NASA now has something else in mind for 2013.
lastof7
QUOTE (lastof7 @ Jan 8 2007, 06:26 PM) *
Previous press reports listed Lockheed Martin as developing the spacecraft bus for MAVEN. Anyone know who is developing the bus for The Great Escape?


To answer my own question, Orbital would develop The Great Escape if selected (and would be the first NASA Mars Orbiter not built by Lockheed Martin in quite some time (ever?))
djellison
Suprising - I would have though the MCO+MO2K1 bus would be a build-to-print basis for scout budget orbiters.... I hope Alan can drop a few PDF's / PPT's onto the SWRI website about it.

Doug
AlexBlackwell
QUOTE (lastof7 @ Jan 9 2007, 03:23 AM) *
To answer my own question, Orbital would develop The Great Escape if selected (and would be the first NASA Mars Orbiter not built by Lockheed Martin in quite some time (ever?))

Yes, going all the way back to Viking Orbiters 1 & 2, and Mariner 9, which were JPL products.
AlexBlackwell
Someone probably already posted this article from last year, but it mentions a few proposals that, presumably, didn't make the cut.
Jim from NSF.com
QUOTE (AlexBlackwell @ Jan 9 2007, 11:54 AM) *
Yes, going all the way back to Viking Orbiters 1 & 2, and Mariner 9, which were JPL products.


MO was GE heritage vs Martin Marrietta. So it doesn't go back that far
AlexBlackwell
QUOTE (Jim from NSF.com @ Jan 9 2007, 07:59 AM) *
MO was GE heritage vs Martin Marrietta. So it doesn't go back that far

You're right about Mars Observer. Thanks for the catch.
tedstryk
QUOTE (AlexBlackwell @ Jan 9 2007, 06:03 PM) *
You're right about Mars Observer. Thanks for the catch.


Then again, if we are talking about Orbiters that actually orbited the planet, Mars Observer doesn't count
AlexBlackwell
QUOTE (tedstryk @ Jan 9 2007, 09:56 AM) *
Then again, if we are talking about Orbiters that actually orbited the planet, Mars Observer doesn't count

I should have slowed down and read the original question more carefully biggrin.gif I guess I could try to weasel out by saying that I was thinking of the last time NASA itself (e.g., JPL) built a Mars orbiter in-house, but lastof7 specifically referred to non-LM-built Mars Orbiters. Of course, as Jim from NSF.com pointed out, GE Astro Space built Mars Observer.
PhilCo126
Future NASA missions: http://spaceflightnow.com/news/n0701/08mars2011/
tuvas
If I wanted to, I could be a smarty pants and say that the last non-LM built spacecraft was Mars Express, but I think I'll refrain myself.
AlexBlackwell
QUOTE (tuvas @ Jan 9 2007, 11:07 AM) *
If I wanted to, I could be a smarty pants and say that the last non-LM built spacecraft was Mars Express, but I think I'll refrain myself.

Good one, tuvas I wish I had thought of that biggrin.gif
lastof7
QUOTE (tuvas @ Jan 9 2007, 04:07 PM) *
If I wanted to, I could be a smarty pants and say that the last non-LM built spacecraft was Mars Express, but I think I'll refrain myself.


Hence the qualifier in the original question ("NASA Mars Orbiter"). wink.gif Still, it wasn't well stated since what I really meant was spacecraft built either by or for NASA.

Regardless, it will be interesting to see if Orbital ends up breaking the LMA string of spacecraft.
AlexBlackwell
CU-Boulder Proposal Selected As Finalist For Mission To Probe Past Climate Of Mars
University of Colorado at Boulder News Release
January 8, 2007
AlexBlackwell
QUOTE (lastof7 @ Jan 9 2007, 12:20 PM) *
Hence the qualifier in the original question ("NASA Mars Orbiter"). wink.gif

Regardless, it will be interesting to see if Orbital ends up breaking the LMA string of spacecraft.

We should start a hairsplitters' society biggrin.gif
AlexBlackwell
QUOTE (Bob Shaw @ Jan 8 2007, 03:23 PM) *
QUOTE
NASA has selected Dr. Alian Wang of Washington University, St. Louis, to participate as a member of the science team for the European Space Agency's ExoMars mission. Wang will receive approximately $800,000 to study the chemistry, mineralogy and astrobiology of Mars using instrumentation on the ExoMars mission, scheduled for launch in 2013.


While the two other instruments, Urey Mars Organic and Oxidant Detector and Mars Organic Molecule Analyzer, are being funded for technical development for possible inclusion on ExoMars as a Mars Scout MoO, Dr. Wang was, as I understand it, confirmed for funding (again as an MoO) as an ExoMars team member. I'm interested to see what investigation she proposed. The way the language of the press release reads, though, it sounds like she might be something like an interdisciplinary team member or a participating scientist, rather than a full-fledged Co-I. Anyway, there might be some hints on her web page.
climber
Just a funny (?) remark about names of the Spacecrafts (A lot of (nice) imagination here actualy)
Anyway, I find logical that Great Escape comes after Deep Impact...
Kinda OT...
AlexBlackwell
NASA Funds Scripps Instrument For Probing For Life on Mars
Scripps Institution of Oceanography
University of California, San Diego
For Release: January 9, 2007
Analyst
The blog at NASAWatch says there has been some discussion at MEPAG about using the Mars 2011 Scout orbiter as a relay sat, e.g. install electra. Imo this should be mandatory for every future orbiter, Scout or not, NASA or ESA or whoever. You can't get enough uplink from the surface of mars. The extra cost should be small compared to the possible benefits. Just my two cents.

Analyst
AlexBlackwell
QUOTE (Analyst @ Jan 11 2007, 08:41 AM) *
The blog at NASAWatch says there has been some discussion at MEPAG about using the Mars 2011 Scout orbiter as a relay sat, e.g. install electra. Imo this should be mandatory for every future orbiter, Scout or not, NASA or ESA or whoever.

It is mandatory for NASA-funded Mars orbiters. From the 2006 Mars Scout AO:

QUOTE
As a matter of policy, the MEP requires that missions with more than one Mars year of expected life in Mars orbit must carry a UHF communications package (See Electra Mars Proximity Link Communications and Navigation Payload Description, in the Mars Scout Library) to provide telecommunications support for data relay for future missions and to provide support during critical events...
Analyst
Great, way it should be. smile.gif
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