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I've started a new blog on this topic at

This blog supplements UMSF by allowing on topic discussions that include politics and other topics not appropriate here.

The first entry is up with some additional news on the MSL funding and schedule problems.

A summary of proposed post-MSL Mars missions has been posted at
New material on down selection of MSL landing sites, selection of the next New Frontiers mission, and probable delay of ESA science mission at
I just posted a description of the proposed Io Volcano Observer at

NASA has released its plans and options for covering the MSL slip. I've posted the details at
I just posted a review of two just released planning documents on the two Flagship missions at
Thanks for posting those with comments there, and flagging it here. (Thanks likewise to Jason at Gish Bar)
QUOTE (vjkane @ Jan 9 2009, 06:48 PM) *
NASA has released its plans and options for covering the MSL slip.

see also
I just posted a long summary of future Mars roadmap and mission proposals from the MEPAG meeting at my blog

You can see all recent posts at
Early reports from current Planetary Science Subcommittee meeting indicate bad news all around. See
Doug, Phil, Stu...guys...a new era has arrived and I just love the "feeling" of it! Hugs anyone? biggrin.gif
I'd better send the man my curriculum... laugh.gif
A summary of the newly proposed Venus Flagship mission is available at
Here's a list of topics posted at Future Planets this week:

ExoMars Replan?
Options for Exploring Venus in Smaller Chunks
Venus Flagship Proposal
More on Mars Chemistry
Thoughts from Bruce Moomaw

Your comments are always welcome.
Several new posts this week at FuturePlanets :

EJSM Instrument Workshop:

MEPAG Meeting Part 1 - ESA Plans:

MEPAG Meeting Part 2 - Mid-range Rover:

Several new posts on at FuturePlanets. This week's entries focused on a possible Galilean Satellite Observer that would be an expansion of the proposed Ganymede Observer. The Galilean Satellite Observer would be a fallback if budgets don't allow for the Jupiter Europa Orbiter.

Galilean Satellite Observer

Summary of proposed Ganymede Observer

Response to proposal by Bruce M.

Response to proposal by John R.

Comments are always welcome.
Thank you for this great blog - it's become a regular pit stop.

Subscribed - very nice work.
A refreshingly optimistic tone in ths report. Maybe its just a matter of making an inspiring case.
I found this article interesting. If the topic is too 'blue sky' or whatever please delete.
There's been concerned raised about the decision not to start up production of plutonium-238 in the FY10 budget. (Couldn't find the posts.) I've written an analysis at my blog:
Next candidates for New Frontiers missions and a new round of study missions for the Decadal Survey announced. Details at Futureplanets
See also
I like all three, but if I must choose one I would say SAGE
Mmm...Yeah, I'm with you there, Paolo. There's really just too much that we don't yet understand about Venus, and it's high time that planet got some recent ground truth with modern instrumentation.
A new Venus lander mission is what's really needed of the three proposals.

And with the Magellan data we should be able to pick out interesting sites, like a volcano or tesserae area. The only concern I would have would be that a mission like this wouldn't really be able to stay with the budget parameters set out in the programme. I really would love to see a new Venus lander before long. cool.gif
Quote removed - mod

Just as important, the Venus Express VIRTIS instrument has found areas that appear to be fresh lava flows, and the SAGE-VISE White Paper indicated that one of these flows would be the target.
I'm all for the Venus mission..its about time we get proper views of the venusian surface!
First look at the proposed NASA planetary budget for next year is posted at my FuturePlanets blog.
Thanks. I've been scouring the media for that information but couldn't get past the big headlines. I knew you'd come up trumps, but I didn't know the budget would.
Remember that discussion of this budget is not permitted here -- it is however welcome on Van's blog, which, as he said at the top of this thread, establishes a place where UMSFers can discuss this topic, which is clearly of interest to many of you but off-limits here.
Right, sorry.

Of course The Planetary Society will also be a great place to follow this news. I'm all ears.

EDIT: And there it is:
I've posted descriptions of an Enceladus sample return mission and a Titan airplane mission at my blog
NASA has just released its detailed FY 2011 budget proposal. I have an analysis of the planetary exploration budget at FuturePlanets.

For a look at the bigger NASA budget, check out Space Politics.

Please remember that discussions of politics and budgets are not allowed on this forum.
the mission and technology studies selected for the second planetary exploration decadal survey are now available online
pick your favorite concept. too bad only a handful will fly... sad.gif
Lots of interesting ideas in there. I particularly like the "Saturn Ring Observer Concept": a spacecraft hovering about 3km above the ring plane. Close enough to resolve the ring particles.
I dunno about anyone else, but I'm going through those pdfs like a kid in a particularly well-stocked sweetshop. biggrin.gif

"like a kid in a particularly well-stocked sweetshop."

Isn't here emoticon for drooling? smile.gif

Thanks Paolo!
Some rather obscure proposals in there! It would seem to me that the Chiron Orbiter and Saturn Atmospheric Probe could be combined (yeah, not on the same budget), although the reference to Jupiter or(?) Saturn flyby in the Chiron proposal might simply mean Jupiter is much preferred. That would actually be pretty neat... Saturn flyby, Saturn Probe, and Chiron Orbiter. Ahh, we can dream.

Isn't that your handiwork on the photo on page 1 of the Scientific Objectives in the Enceladus Orbiter mission? It sure looks familiar. That photo was my computer wallpaper for many months.

As you look through the proposals, some are clearly much more detailed than others, which are still very conceptual. The Survey is much more likely to go for the well developed ideas.
Strange. No matter how much of this candy I eat, I only get hungrier! ph34r.gif

There are some remarkable concepts here; VERY hard to pic favs. Still reading...
That was one heck of a ride!
Great link in so many ways, thanks.
Thanks for the link Paolo - very absorbing read.

It's noticeable how we're still very dependant on sunlight for powering our exploration of the solar system - many of the outer planet mission proposals rely on the uncertain availability of Plutonium for power, with it's attendant planetary protection issues, and cost considerations.
Jupiter's radiation environment also presents major challenges to any of orbital missions outlined there.

My favourites of those I've looked at would be:

Titan/Saturn System mission (ballooning and boating on Kraken Mare anyone?)
Io observer
Flagship Neptune orbiter (I'd be in my late sixties at orbit insertion if this was to go ahead.....)

Fascinating proposals though.

I'm very partial to the Neptune Orbiter as well. We don't know nearly enough about that system, and Triton seems to basically be a captured large KBO....lotta bang for the buck to be had there.
Check out my blog, FuturePlanets for a table comparing the concepts for cost and mission schedules.
I've often wondered why the electronics on spacecraft have to be pampered in an earthlike environment. It's a topic very far from my limited knowlege but one that interests me a lot. This article seems to herald good things for the future. (I say: Bring on the Venus-hardy variety and let's have long-lived surface rovers.)
Well, for your average iPad, a fatal ESD event isn't that big a deal. Even non-fatal events can do fun things like shorten lifespan or increase current consumption. For a multi billion dollar spacecraft, those would be catastrophic. And don't forget, "pampered" for spacecraft still means going through a shake table and a real launch!
When I used the word 'pampered' there I was really thinking about operating temperature and the fact that the bulk of our expertise in electronics has been developed to cope with 'room temperature' conditions. For a spacecraft working elsewhere in the solar system having to have the electronics at a comfortable human temperature can be a big handicap so it would be good if that constraint could be overcome. I would like to see Titan rovers that don't have to be heated and Venus rovers that don't have to be cooled. I appreciate that there are other severe demands on space electronics besides extreme temperatures.

They most definitely take into account the operating temperatures for spacecraft. If this were not the case, the Voyager probes would have long since been decommissioned and lost forever. A more recent example is the James Webb Space Telescope. Heres an article talking a little about how they condition spacecrafts for use in extreme temperatures. They have facilities for testing in extremely hot zones, cold zones, very high pressure, vacuums, radiation intensive and many other obstacles that spacecraft face while in space. They most definitely do not build them to a specification that would only be acceptable for Earth use because you would get exactly what you would expect: space trash.

This is where the forefront of NASA's leading edge comes in. They have invented so many absolutely awesome materials that are so far advanced that stuff invented in the 60s and 70s is still only starting to hit the commercial market. Expect to see a Venus rover sometime in the next decade and maybe a Titan rover will come within the next 20 years. The reason that it takes so long is because no one has ever done anything like it and everything has to be invented from scratch.

It is amazing how far we have gone when you realize that, just 54 years ago, a rocket hadn't even left this planet yet. The future holds a lot of potential. smile.gif
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