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AlexBlackwell
QUOTE (ollopa @ May 17 2007, 03:41 AM) *
Will they now re-name the mission?

How about EuroMER?
SkyeLab
BBC News article on EXOMARS


Critical review for Mars rover
By Jonathan Amos

"Europe's plans to send a robotic rover to the Red Planet in 2013 face a critical review this week.

A top-level panel will meet in Paris to choose a single design concept for the mission and determine whether the ambitious proposals are affordable."

rest of article here:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/6675287.stm

Cheers

Brian
monitorlizard
Look for the Exo-Mars budget to go "to infinity and beyond!" Oh, wait, that's trademarked, but I do think costs will end up in excess of one billion euros (or one thousand million euros, if you prefer). Both the American Surveyor and Viking landing programs ended up costing far in excess of their original budgets. The Soviet Mars landers may have come in within budget but, well, they all failed. Think of a near-doubling of the original cost estimate as an initiation fee into a very exclusive club.

Or Exo-Mars could descope, which is also a popular option in space exploration these days.

When did I get so pretentious?! Well, good luck to Exo-Mars, but remember history is a harsh teacher.
Cugel
Why does it have to cost a billion? NASA/JPL have landed 2 rovers on Mars for less than that and both have more than 8 kilograms of payload. Some of it might have to do with the close proximity of the 2003 Mars opposition (and sending 2 MERs) but surely that doesn't account for half a billion euros?
Stu
QUOTE (Cugel @ May 22 2007, 09:31 AM) *
Why does it have to cost a billion?


Because... sigh... this is Europe, and most large European organisations - Govts, industries, whatever - couldn't keep to a budget if their lives depended on it. Going over-budget is as popular a sport here as football; there almost seems to be a competition to see who can toss the most money down the biggest hole in the shortest time. huh.gif

As much as I'm looking forward to seeing it working, and it might do some spectacular science, I have serious concerns about ExoMars, and have done for a while. Lots of beautiful, shiny "Top Gear" computer images, brave bold plans, but a very optimistic budget scribbled on the back of a cigarette packet. In pencil. If the budget begins to climb then there will be some seriously deep intakes of breath and support could start to evaporate. As always, I shall hope for the best, but fear the worst. unsure.gif
Analyst
QUOTE
Because... sigh... this is Europe, and most large European organisations - Govts, industries, whatever - couldn't keep to a budget if their lives depended on it. Going over-budget is as popular a sport here as football; there almost seems to be a competition to see who can toss the most money down the biggest hole in the shortest time.


I disagree. This has nothing to do with being Europe or not. It is so because it is hard to do an therefore expensive. Spaceflight is not cheap.

ESA tries to fly a rover:

- with instruments capable of science like MSL (or Viking)
- on a solar powerded rover the size of MER
- within a MER budget.

Plus they want:

- a complex drilling system (1m to 2m deep)
- a drop package for seismic science and
- a communications orbiter.

Plus they do a Martian landing for the first time. To get all this, 1 billion Euros is the lower bound, not the upper! If they can't get the money needed, they have to do one or more of the following:

- rescope science (like IVc to IVb and others)
- cancel the drop package and/or the orbiter
- delay launch again
- cancel the drill.

Analyst
djellison
QUOTE (Analyst @ May 22 2007, 10:10 AM) *
It is so because it is hard to do an therefore expensive. Spaceflight is not cheap.


Stu didn't say it wasn't going to be expensive. He said it would go over budget. Such projects always do.

My personal take is that Exomars is too bold for a first landing. We need to scale back - do the Netlander type mission (4 small landers) with a delivering orbiter this time around (€600-800M would be a sensible figure for that) - and the delivering orbiter can then be a relay for a rover 4 years later. Not only that - but 4 chances to land on Mars. OK - so it's the same hardware every time but as long as you have that MER flexibility in deplyment times etc - then you can learn from the first lander for the follow ons.

Then, 4 years later - when you know how to land on Mars, do Exomars.

Doug
Analyst
QUOTE (djellison @ May 22 2007, 09:21 AM) *
... but as long as you have that MER flexibility in deplyment times etc - then you can learn from the first lander for the follow ons.


This suggests you first enter orbit and then land one by one. I am not sure the costs (extra propellant for MOI and retro firing for each lander = bigger spacecraft = bigger launch vehicle) are worth the benefit of adjusting the EDL timeline a little within the limited margin you have.

Analyst
Stu
QUOTE (Analyst @ May 22 2007, 10:10 AM) *
I disagree. This has nothing to do with being Europe or not. It is so because it is hard to do an therefore expensive. Spaceflight is not cheap.


As Doug pointed out - I would have done myself, but was catching up with this week's Dr Who... got to get your priorities right smile.gif - I didn't say spaceflight is cheap. Anyone who believes that believes in the tooth fairy and Father Christmas. I was making the point that something that is already expensive is destined to be even MORE expensive here, that's just the way things are here. Without getting all political and getting my hand slapped - rightly - it's a fact that if Europe was covered in money trees with golden egg laying geese sitting on their branches they would still make a loss when harvested... tongue.gif

At the risk of sounding like a heretic here, I have a sneaking suspicion that this mission is just a bit too ambitious for us right now, not just in terms of the expense but also the technical challenges too. This seems a bit like a "run before we can walk" scenario to me. Mars is a harsh, unforgiving world that takes the confident plans of even the cockiest engineers and laughs in their faces. You listed all the impressive elements of the mission there Analyst, but I can't help thinking that's a target list for the martian ghoul that has already claimed the souls of so many previous probes. So much cutting edge tech there, it just seems too much to be possible, based on our experience so far.

Although technical faults are the reason for many space missions, I think over-confidence, arrogance and impatience kill more. The shining gold, Transformer-like ExoMars we've all seen beautiful images of will trundle across Mars one day, I'm sure. But I don't think that day will dawn soon, at least not until Europe has succesfully dropped a few landers on Mars first.
djellison
QUOTE (Analyst @ May 22 2007, 10:55 AM) *
This suggests you first enter orbit and then land one by one.


Yup. That would be my plan. Consider the viking spacecraft - now take the lander mass, split it four ways...and you're done. >130kg per lander. Double the B2 spec. It would take an Ariane V to loft it - but it's very doable and systematically, preferable to Exomars imho.

Doug
ustrax
I don't know if someone already posted this but, anyway, it may be useful.
ExoMars Study Report
Analyst
QUOTE (djellison @ May 22 2007, 10:21 AM) *
Consider the viking spacecraft - now take the lander mass, split it four ways...and you're done. >130kg per lander. Double the B2 spec. It would take an Ariane V to loft it - but it's very doable and systematically, preferable to Exomars imho.


I agree. This would also fit into the overall Mars strategy. MEPEG is considering a netlander style mission too for the 2016/2018 timeframe but it fits very bad into the budget and the other priorities (2013 MSTO, 2016 MSL type rover/two MER type rovers, 2018 Scout (or vice versa). So Europe could do something special and important here.

But lets face it: Four small immobile landers and an orbiter are not sexy today when others have big rovers. And sex sells. So politics can make this strategy impossible. Because the general public (and the decision makers in politics) will ask: "Why do they have rovers and we only have small landers". This is not only about science, its is also very much about the feelings of people, and about money from these people. About being better than others.

You can't compare one by one but think of Deep Impact: A pretty expensive mission with very limited scientific results gets funded because it is sexy. Other may have been better, but not sexy.

Analyst

PS: The question remains: Is it needed to enter orbit first? Does the risk reduction offset the extra costs?
djellison
QUOTE (Analyst @ May 22 2007, 11:52 AM) *
"Why do they have rovers and we only have small landers".


or "Cool- we've got four landers, they've only got a rover"

or "So we just blew €1B on that rover and it crashed"

or "Thanks to the insightfull and accurate reporting by the mainstream media, I understand the science value in four small landers as help toward our understanding of global meterology and the potential for interesting results from seismic study, furthermore they offer an ideal engineering testbed for technologies to land future, more expensive payloads on the surface. On reflection, as a man in the street I understand that a Netlander type mission of multiple small probes offers a more sensible option as our second mission to Mars and is a more robust pathway looking forward in Europes own planetary science programme"

If a mission doesn't come across as Sexy - you don't abandon it - you explain why it IS Sexy. Now yes - Rovers are sexier than landers - but 1 failed rover isn't very sexy at all. Two working landers out of four is. The public reaction to Phoenix will be interesting in this regard.

Doug
Stu
In the run-up to its landing day, Beagle 2 was sexier to the British media than a rain-soaked Keira Knightley... by Boxing Day it was about as sexy as one of those gap-toothed, druggie chav mums so beloved of the Jeremy Kyle show.

Sex might sell, but only as long as things are going well.
monitorlizard
On the other hand...

Isn't there something in Chinese philosophy like victory is glorious but failure is almost more glorious because you had the courage to try to do something that was impossible? Maybe Europe should roll the dice with ExoMars, with only small descopes (like dropping the geophysical package, which isn't part of the rover proper). There does come a time when additional launch delays will actually start to increase the cost of the mission, and 2013 still gives a lot of time to develop things.

On the other other hand:

There are a few things that may be unrealistic for a first rover, like too much autonomy and too many instruments for the payload mass allocated. Whole instruments may have to be dropped rather than descoping all of them. I don't see how you could reduce the weight of the drill, for example. A drill has to be made of sturdy stuff to withstand the vibrations it produces.

I'm an American, but if I'm waffling, it's a Belgian waffle. smile.gif
Analyst
QUOTE (Stu @ May 22 2007, 11:12 AM) *
Sex might sell, but only as long as things are going well.


The problem with this argument (and Doug's as well) is that you have to sell it *before* you can fail or not.

I am only saying how I think mission selections often work, not how they should work. And history proves this in many respects: The addition of JunoCam, Deep Impact, New Horizons was sold at least to some degree as the mission to the unexplored 9th planet (Would it be funded now?), MER (over MRO), the late addition of a rover to MPF. Gravity Probe B is one opposite example. Public and political opinions often are critical. This has to be considered, if we like it or not.

To explain why something is sexy is the only way. But it is also the hard way. And even scientists like sexy missions like rovers. Because they are human too.

Analyst
Stu
I hear what you're saying, Analyst, I really do, but the problem here - and I think it's a basic one - is that we'tre preaching to the choir here. Everyone here knows this stuff already, you could say it's in our blood, so we don't need to be convinced anything that leaves Earth is "sexy". It's what we do.

... but the people Out There, the ones struggling to pay their rents or mortgages, or fill their cars with petrol, or pay for their prescription drugs, or buy a new pair of shoes for their kid to go to school in, don't see things the same way. Many of them completely disagree with spending any money on space travel, they just see it as a waste and can't be convinced otherwise. We'll never win them over, and I don't even try any more to be honest. The people I do work on are the ones who support space exploration but only if it results in scientific progress here on Earth, or, at the very least, provides us with something pretty or amazing to look at. Take DEEP IMPACT. In the build up to that I was giving lots of talks, and describing its mission. It soon became clear that if I told people how scientifically valuable the mission would be, how it would provide us with insight into the chemical composition and physical structure of a cometary nucleus, they would look at the walls and their shoes or pick their noses with an air of "So what?" about them. Ah, but when I told them that we were going to fire a copper cannon shell into a space iceberg, that would blast a great big hole out of it and let us look into a great big crater, well, they wanted to know more. That's not dumbing down, it's finding the right approach. (With them leaning forwards and not picking their noses any more I could hit them with the science...)

So, we have to give them - the People Out There - space missions that will give them something back, and that means space missions that have a good chance of succeeding. In this modern visual age, "succeeding" really means - again, for non UMSF people - sending back lots of amazing pics. If the MERs had landed safely, with everything working except their cameras, they could still have done some science but there would have been zero public interest in them. So, ExoMars will only succeed if it "does a MER" and send back amazing pics. I think that, as it is, it is too complicated a beast to work, especially as it's a virgin design and being built and operated by people doing this for the first time, who are also leapfrogging less ambitious and challenging projects to get to Mars.

It's all about maximising chances of success and building foundations for future programs. Take a shortcut and you risk getting lost.
djellison
QUOTE (Analyst @ May 22 2007, 01:08 PM) *
MER (over MRO),


That was a technical decision. The solar power situation was preferential for the rovers in '04 - and the MRO payload needed longer for development.

I do see what you're saying - and I would rate an orbiter as less sexy than a lander - BUT - if you consider the actual public attention to Spirit and Opportunity - it trends to near zero exponentially. from the day that first big colour picture is released.

http://www.google.com/trends/viz?q=mars+ro...ly_img&sa=N

i.e. the public didn't really care that it was going to move. Wheels are cool - but a pretty picture is possibly enough. A slight spike with Victoria, but that's about it. I think the sexy-rating is a valid point - but I think it only counts if a mission is sexy 'enough'. Any lander is sexy enough if it works - wheels or not. An orbiter that can take cool pictures is sexy enough. Taking all the Discovery program missions into consideration for example - I would say that only Genesis and Kepler lack an ammount of 'wow' that can get the public attention.

Infact - the more I think about it - the wow factor is little more than a level of undertanding so that people can go "Oh - I get it

Doug
ustrax
QUOTE (Stu @ May 22 2007, 01:32 PM) *
especially as it's a virgin design and being built and operated by people doing this for the first time, who are also leapfrogging less ambitious and challenging projects to get to Mars.


Stu...I really can't understand you...
Where's the poetry when you need it, the will to challenge to take a step ahead, to innovate and not only emulate?
Are we scared or what? Scared after MEx, VEx, Rosetta, Huygens?
OK, its a rover...Isn't ESA, and its contributors allowed to be bold?
They're doing it, or at least trying to do it for the first time, to them all my respect and admiration.
How many other failures brought us here?
How much did slipped the budget for Phoenix which we all eagerly wait to succeed?
I truly hope they dare to advance and reach their goals, they deserve it.
Because I want to see that proudy, shiny ExoMars in "your" museum. wink.gif

EDITED: I really want to see what will be the consequences of this...
centsworth_II
Making landers sexy:

A very small, simple rover could be added to each lander.
Just a good camera on wheels so that you could say, "that's
an interesting rock over there, let's go take a look." Additional
science could be done through the use of filters and possibly a
calibrated light source. (Also would need a brush for dusting.)

This may sound silly but the general interest level would be
increased by orders of magnitude. Just look at where all the
interest focused on the Sojourner mission.
Stu
QUOTE (ustrax @ May 22 2007, 03:42 PM) *
Stu...I really can't understand you...


Don't worry about that ustrax my friend, many before you have tried and failed... wink.gif

The thing is, I DESPERATELY want a European presence on and not just above Mars - I joined UMSF back in the days when it was all about Beagle after all - but only when it's Right and can be Done Right. My greatest fear is that we go too soon and **** it up, which would put the whole program back by, what, a decade? Believe me, if I could personally fund ExoMars to be all it could be, and to enjoy guaranteed success, my cheque book would be out so fast there'd be a window-rattling sonic boom! But that's just fantasy land for any space project, there's no such thing as guaranteed success, and anyway, as much as I want to sit here looking at pics sent back by ExoMars I'm frightened - and I don't use the word casually - that this is such a leap forward, a leap over many milestones that would only improve the chances of a succesful surface rover mission, that it's too big a stretch, you know? It's fine to be bold, and brave, but not reckless, and certainly not blindly optimistic. Space exploration = money, and that money comes from people like you and I via politicians... and with ExoMars being such a hugely expensive mission I really believe that it should only be done if it can be done right, and there seems to me to be a lot of development work left to do before we're ready to take that step, that's all I'm saying.

A major failure, of a project like ExoMars, would cripple ESA, not just financially but in terms of public perception and public and political support. Personally I'd go for it, and see what numbers came up when the dice rolled, but Im not the one who will have to pick up the pieces afterwards, to justify the money spent, and try to convince people post-failure that I deserve the money to try again. huh.gif

Babies that try to run before they can walk usually crack their heads open on a cupboard. I don't want to see that happen to ESA.
djellison
QUOTE (ustrax @ May 22 2007, 03:42 PM) *
Are we scared or what? Scared after MEx, VEx, Rosetta, Huygens?
OK, its a rover...Isn't ESA, and its contributors allowed to be bold?


Bold? Yes. Run before they can walk? I'd rather they didn't. It's about the right mission at the right time.

Maybe they'll decide to build ExoMars in full, with all the bells and whistles, spend €1B, and in 6 years time it'll all work beautifully.

BUT - the need for a set of smaller missions (the NetLander idea) is just screaming out to be done - and it is SO right for ESA right now. Landing on Titan is - once you get there - comparatively easy. Big thick atmosphere, low gravity - couldn't be a better place to land. Mars is REALLY hard - much MUCH harder than Titan. We need to practice it. We're not going to be spending Viking type money, but we're trying to jump to MER before going through Pathfinder. That's just no very sensible. NetLander gives us the opportunity to do something utterly unique, and get huge landing experience at the same time and maybe even pay back NASA for the millions and millions of €'s worth of relay and DSN time we've used by using the orbiter to relay data from some of their own spacecraft.

ExoMars has issues at this stage. Mass issues, or the ssue of fitting a payload that JPL are using a 700kg rover for, into an MER sized rover, or even the simple fact that the the #1 experts in the field of landing with airbags are abandoning it in favour of something else because they can't make it work for payloads heavier than MER...payloads like ExoMars ( which, with an MER like rover, and an active left-behind component - it would be ).

And the final point - if ESA put ExoMars on Mars tomorrow, succesfully - then we would all go utterly utterly insane as a beautiful vehicle rolls around mars taking stunning pictures every day - and we don't see a damn thing. I want ESA to grow up in terms of outreach expectations and standards before it blows it completely on a mission like ExoMars.

Maybe they fly it in full, maybe it works, maybe they 'get' Outreach, maybe they find the right landing site, maybe the instruments work. Too many maybes for me.

Doug
Mariner9
One of the often stated goals of Aurora is sample return and eventual manned landings.

ESA seems to think it can go from MEX (which they conveniently forget leaned heavily on Rosetta inheritance), to ExoMars in one step, then casually move on to a Sample Return.

This from an agency that has only got Beagle (which went 'crunch') on it's list of Mars Landing accomplishments.

The Aurora program is beyond ambitious. It is a fantasy. A very expensive fantasy.
Stu
QUOTE (Mariner9 @ May 23 2007, 03:46 PM) *
This from an agency that has only got Beagle (which went 'crunch') on it's list of Mars Landing accomplishments.


We don't know Beagle went crunch... it could be sitting there in one piece right now, but failed after landing for some reason.

I like to think so anyway. Hate the idea of it being smashed to bits. sad.gif
djellison
QUOTE (Mariner9 @ May 23 2007, 03:46 PM) *
This from an agency that has only got Beagle (which went 'crunch') on it's list of Mars Landing accomplishments.


To be fair, ESA involvement in B2 wasn't that much. B2 was as much an ESA failure as the PFS mirror on VEX.

Doug
(Personally - I think B2 burnt up in the atmosphere due to a poor aeroshell design derived from Huygens.)
ustrax
QUOTE (Mariner9 @ May 23 2007, 03:46 PM) *
The Aurora program is beyond ambitious. It is a fantasy. A very expensive fantasy.


I'll save this sentence for future use...rolleyes.gif
spdf
I ve got a few questions.

Since the small Netlanders would have been much smaller than ExoMars, do we really learn that much for the larger ExoMars, or would it just give a very dangerous sense of security?

Wasn´t Netlander canceled because the mission was too expensive? So you´ve got a very expensive mission, but as someone mentioned before ESA doesn´t have any successfull landings on Mars so far. This would mean the risk for Netlander is very high too.
So whatever ESA does, Netlander or ExoMars, the risk is very huge anyway. From this point of view I don´t see much improvement for ESAs situation. unsure.gif

(I hope my point is understandable)
djellison
I see what you're saying - and you do have a point - but the difference is this.

You spend €1B on ExoMars and it crashes, you don't get anything

Spend €800M (my guess) on Netlander - and you get four chances. Try one - if it fails, learn from it, change some parameters, try a safer landing site - try again..and again...and again. Quadrouple the chance.

Not only that - but perhaps you have two Netlanders that work - you might find that one of those vehicles finds the PERFECT landing site for Exomars.

Yes - the feed forward from Netlander to Exomars is not great from a systems perspective - but nothing from the MPF blueprints ended up on MER either - nor Viking etc. It's about experience more than anything perhaps.

I'm MUCH more confident in MSL than I could ever be about ExoMars. The MSL EDL guys have done it three times already. They know the challenges, they understand the trades. I want to see the EU guys get that sort of experience before hitting something big like ExoMars.



Doug
helvick
I am not convinced that ESA is being overly ambitious with the current ExoMars scope. The full Aurora plan to progress rapidly to sample return seems far too ambitious but I don't see any definite reason why a slightly bigger than MER design can't be landed by ESA with a high expectation of success.

Opting to use a MER\Pathfinder heritage vented airbag landing system seems reasonable to me. Sure they will be hitting the mass limit but they have the time to resolve that. MSL needs to do something dramatically different - it would need to be landing close to 2000kg if it were to use an airbag system, ExoMars will need to deal with ~600-700kg which is at most 30% more than MER.
hendric
That's even assuming ExoMars can be done for €1B. I say there's at least an order of magnitude difference in the complexity between 4 immobile landers, and the ExoMars rover. I would bet a Mars bar on something more in the range of €3B, when you factor in instrument development and staffing science and engineering teams.
djellison
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/6738585.stm

Vented bags get tested.
Zvezdichko
Vented bags?What will happen if the rover lands upside down... I never liked the idea of vented bags..
Rakhir
Will the cable with the chute be cut when reaching the ground or a few meters before (like the MERs) ?
In the first case, I guess the bags are supposed to be down at contact.
djellison
The design is to not land upside down. MSL isn't going to land upside down for instance.

Doug
mars_armer
In the early part of the Mars Pathfinder project, the assumption was that the first impact would always be on the base petal airbag, and the other airbags were just for secondary bounces. Special attention was to be paid to the base petal airbag.

Then the multi-body simulations came in, and they found that the first impact was equally likely in any direction, including nose down. The problem is that when the RAD rockets fire, any misalignment between the bridle the the center of mass of the lander will cause the lander to pitch over. (For MER, they added the transverse rockets to counteract horizontal velocity, but the lander orientation at landing could still be upside down.)

The difference with MSL is that the descent stage is actively controlled, and there is no "jerk" from RAD rockets.
Geographer
What is the expected range in meters per day and overall for ExoMars?
djellison
It'll be similar to MER - which means hugely dependant on terrain and power. Anything from 30 to 200m/sol

Doug
vjkane
Space News has a nice article on the financing of ExoMars. It appears that the mission is in New Frontiers class territory plus. While the quoted price tag is $1.5B, a portion of that is because the dollar is so weak (a euro spent in Europe doesn't seem to buy $1.50 worth of stuff). However, the quoted price tag doesn't include the instruments (22 of them), so that probably brings the full price tag closer to what $1.5B would buy in the States.

Net of all this: The large price tags for missions we've seen elsewhere (for example Flagship missions to Jupiter or Saturn) are occurring for other bodies as the cheap easy stuff has already been done.
vjkane
QUOTE (vjkane @ Dec 17 2007, 05:00 PM) *
Space News has a nice article on the financing of ExoMars.


The url: http://www.space.com/businesstechnology/07...on-exomars.html
scalbers
And also covered on the BBC:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/7149500.stm
nprev
Kind of risky to assume that MRO will still be available to serve as a comm relay in 2013 & beyond, though, isn't it? Does ESA have any sort of follow-on to Mars Express planned?
vjkane
QUOTE (nprev @ Dec 19 2007, 01:07 AM) *
Kind of risky to assume that MRO will still be available to serve as a comm relay in 2013 & beyond, though, isn't it? Does ESA have any sort of follow-on to Mars Express planned?


I believe that the mission now also includes an orbiter that will act both as a relay and a science platform.
nprev
Really! Seems wise. Is this going to change the EDL concept significantly, or does this offload some of the risk from the vented-airbag schema? (Assuming here that the orbiter & rover are traveling together & going into orbit...or will ExoMars be jettisoned for landing prior to MOI?)
Mariner9
I'm not sure that there is an orbiter in the latest ExoMars proposal.

Data relay is central to the debate of the day right now in Mars exploration, or more specifically what will follow Mars Scout 2011.

Originally 2013 was going to be the Mars Science Orbiter, or MSO. Following on the heels of MRO and MSL, it is proof once again that NASA is falling in love with TLAs (three letter acronyms).

But recently Alan Stern started talking MSR (the TLA for Mars Sample Return), which would likely require that a Mars mission be dropped in the next decade. MSO is now a potential delete.

Which would leave an aging (or possibly dead) MRO for relay, and Mars Scout 2011. Any orbiter is now required to have relay equipment on board, supplied at no cost to the mission, so Mars Scout will have one. That relay probably would be sufficient (and likely to be operable in 2014 or 2015) to support ExoMars. The question is wheather NASA will consider that a reliable enough mechanism to supply relay for missions in 2016 and 2018.
vjkane
QUOTE (Mariner9 @ Dec 19 2007, 07:40 PM) *
Which would leave an aging (or possibly dead) MRO for relay, and Mars Scout 2011. Any orbiter is now required to have relay equipment on board, supplied at no cost to the mission, so Mars Scout will have one. That relay probably would be sufficient (and likely to be operable in 2014 or 2015) to support ExoMars. The question is wheather NASA will consider that a reliable enough mechanism to supply relay for missions in 2016 and 2018.


The new SSB Planetary Science Program review report http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=12070 , pg. 54-57 shows how the entire Mars program is up in the air. In general, I've been a big fan of Alan Stern, but here we may part company (not that he'll know). MSR is fraught with technical and budgetary risk. Betting your entire Mars program on being able to fly it on time is putting an unacceptable level of risk, in my opinion. We could end up with no Mars mission from the U.S. in the 2010's and no MSR in the 2020's. (MSR is at least two presidents and 6 congresses away).

In my opinion, I'd fly MSO in 2013 to support ExoMars, future missions, and to conduct some science. Then I'd fly two copies (probably two launch opportunities) of the Astrobiology Field Lab (AFL) so that we have both a choice of samples and redundancy if ASL fails or the site selection is skunked (like Spirit in Gusev). Then I'd target MSR surface mission about 2022 and the orbital pickup in 2024 or 2026. Skipping Scout missions and the network science to enable this is an acceptable tradeoff for me.
djellison
QUOTE (vjkane @ Dec 20 2007, 01:15 AM) *
In my opinion, I'd fly MSO in 2013 to support ExoMars,


I wouldn't. There is no certainty that ExoMars will fly. Offer relay with available assets, sure, but don't spend many hundreds of millions of dollars to support a mission that might not fly, and if it doesn't, may well not work. There's being an international partner...and there's going out on a limb.

MSR may be expensive, but MSO and two AFL's don't come cheap either. There will be the '11 orbiter, MRO, MODY and MEX ( with decreasing likelyhood of still being active from left to right ) for ExoMars relay.

Doug
monitorlizard
Flying MSO to do mostly relay and a little science wouldn't be worthwhile, IMO. But if you could do something like, say, fly an imaging SAR on MSO and have the SAR antenna do double duty as part of a high-capacity data relay system, then MSO becomes a much more attractive mission (for ExoMars, AFL, even a surface network). I believe Magellan was an example of being able to use a SAR antenna for multiple purposes.
ustrax
QUOTE (Mariner9 @ Dec 19 2007, 07:40 PM) *
I'm not sure that there is an orbiter in the latest ExoMars proposal.


It is not... smile.gif
It is expected that MRO and their sucessors do the data relay work.
Another thing, it appears that the possible Russian participation is far from happening since Jorge Vago, ExoMars Project Scientist told me that the baseline points to an Ariane 5 ECA launcher...
He also described the landing process...cool...and with some details I wasn't aware of...like this one:
"The Composite (Carrier + Descent Module) will arrive to Mars in late 2014.
It will go into a parking orbit and wait there approximately 1 year, until the atmospheric conditions are optimal for landing (sufficient atmospheric density and no danger of dust storms).
Then? The Composite will execute a manoeuvre at apogee to retarget the spacecraft for the entry trajectory. Two days later, the Carrier will separate the Descent Module, which will then enter the atmosphere."

One year in orbit?...doing what?...Man...forgot to ask about that... rolleyes.gif
djellison
Skycrane AND Airbags AND an orbiter that gets thrown away AND a year long wait on orbit.

AND making the assumption that MRO/MEX/MODY will be in a position to offer relay, 8 years from now without providing any alternative of our own.

huh.gif

I really am sorry to sound so negative about Exomars...it just seems like the wrong way to be going - lots of decisions that seem to be inappropriate compromises to problems that should be engineered out of the equation. I really really don't want to see ESA spend this much money and get it wrong, and I think they are. Big Kudos to Ustrax for getting us some lovely juicy details!

Doug
ustrax
AND...although I'm an optimistic one...did you see that there is something that I haven't read before?...A reference to 2016?... wink.gif

Kudos?...I'd rather have a beer paid in the nearest pub... tongue.gif
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