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Robotic Spacecraft (Astronomy, Planetary, Earth, Solar/Heliophysics) => Space Science Coverage => Topic started by: vjkane on 01/07/2016 06:27 PM

Title: New Frontiers 4
Post by: vjkane on 01/07/2016 06:27 PM
NASA has previewed the New Frontiers 4 mission selection

Big News: A mission to Titan/Enceladus has been added to the list:

Comet Surface Sample Return,
Lunar South Pole-Aitken Basin Sample Return,
Ocean Worlds (Titan and Enceladus),
Saturn Probe,
Trojan Tour and Rendezvous, and
Venus In Situ Explorer

Selection in spring 2019, launch in 2024 or 2025.  Up to three MMRTGs available.


Community Announcement Regarding New Frontiers Program Announcement of
Opportunity

Estimated Release of draft AO .....................………...July 2016 (target)
Estimated Release of final
AO.....................................January 2017 (target)
Estimated Proposal due date........................................90
days after AO release

This community announcement is an advance notice of NASA’s Science
Mission Directorate (SMD) plan to release a Draft Announcement of
Opportunity (AO) for New Frontiers Program mission investigations with
a target release date of July 2016.

The New Frontiers Program conducts Principal Investigator (PI)-led
space science investigations in SMD’s planetary programs under a
not-to-exceed cost cap for the PI-Managed Mission Cost (PMMC).  At the
conclusion of Phase A concept studies, it is planned that one New
Frontiers investigation will be selected to continue into subsequent
mission phases.  There will be no Missions of Opportunity (MO)
solicited as part of this AO.  All MOs are now solicited through the
Stand Alone Mission of Opportunity Notice (SALMON) AO.  New Frontiers
Program investigations must address NASA’s planetary science
objectives as described in 2014 NASA Strategic Plan and the 2014 NASA
Science Plan.  Both documents are now available
athttp://science.nasa.gov/about-us/science-strategy/.

Investigations are limited to the following mission themes (listed
without priority):

Comet Surface Sample Return,
Lunar South Pole-Aitken Basin Sample Return,
Ocean Worlds (Titan and Enceladus),
Saturn Probe,
Trojan Tour and Rendezvous, and
Venus In Situ Explorer.

Five themes are described in the Planetary Science Decadal Survey.
The Ocean Worlds theme for this announcement is tentatively focused on
the search for signs of extant life and/or characterizing the
potential habitability of Titan or Enceladus.   The draft AO will
fully elucidate information on the mission themes.

The time frame for the solicitation is intended to be:

Release of final AO...........................................January
2017 (target)
Preproposal conference...................................~3 weeks
after final AO release
Proposals due ...................................................~90
days after AO release
Selection for competitive Phase A studies....November 2017 (target)
Concept study reports due...............................October 2018 (target)
Down-selection .................................................May
2019 (target)
KDP B .................................................................August
2019 (target)
Launch readiness date ....................................2024

PI-Managed Mission Cost (PMMC) for investigations are capped at a
Phase A-D cost of $850M (FY 2015$) with exclusions as noted in this
announcement.  The now-standard 25% minimum reserve on Phases A-D will
be required within the PMMC.  Operations costs (Phase E and F) are not
included in the PMMC, but will be evaluated for reasonableness.  This
exclusion for operation costs will not apply to the development of
flight or ground software, ground hardware, or testbed development or
refurbishment that occurs after launch.  These activities will be
considered deferred Phase C/D work and their costs will be included
under the PMMC.  Only costs related to spacecraft operations will be
excluded from the PMMC.  Lower-cost investigations and cost-efficient
operations are encouraged.

Launch Vehicle costs and procurement will be the responsibility of
NASA.  A standard launch performance capability will be defined and
provided as GFE and its cost will not be included in the PMMC.  The
cost of mission specific and special launch services, such as for
higher performance launch vehicles or the use of nuclear materials,
are the responsibility of the PI and must be included within the PMMC.
Details of these costs are still under discussion.

The value of foreign contributions remains constrained as was done for
the recent Discovery Program AO.  The total value of foreign
contributions may not exceed one-third of the PMMC, and the value of
foreign contributions to the science payload may not exceed one-third
of the total payload cost.

Investigations may propose the use Multi-Mission Radioisotope
Thermoelectric Generators (MMRTG) and Radioisotope Heater Units
(RHUs).  Some of the costs for the use of these systems and materials
will be included in the PMMC as detailed below.  These costs are not
final and may change.

Up to three MMRTGs are available at the cost of $105M for one unit,
$135M for two units, and $165M for three units.  The cost for the
unit(s) is included in the PMMC.  In addition, the usage of MMRTG(s)
requires delaying the LRD by at least one year to no earlier than 2025
to allow for mission-specific funding to support provision of MMRTGs.
43 RHUs are available as GFE, and the cost of the units is not
included in the PMMC.  However, the PMMC will include approximately
$26M of costs associated with the use of RHUs.

In addition to the costs above, investigations using either MMRTGs or
RHUs will also incur approximately $28M or $21M, respectively, in
costs for special launch services against the PMMC.

NASA will provide incentives for technology infusion into New
Frontiers investigations.  NASA is considering providing technologies
as Government-Furnished Equipment (GFE), including up to 43 RHUs and
the NASA Evolutionary Xenon Thruster (NEXT) ion propulsion system (two
flight model power processing units and two thrusters).  NASA is also
considering providing an increase to the PMMC cap for investigations
utilizing the Heat Shield for Extreme Entry Environment Technology
(HEEET), a woven Thermal Protection System.  In addition, NASA is
considering limiting the risk assessment of certain technologies to
only their accommodation on the spacecraft and the mission
environment.

This incentivized technology list is not complete, and decisions on
the specific technologies and the nature of their associated
incentives will be made before the release of a draft AO.  A
Technology Workshop will be held in early 2016 to provide technology
developers a chance to provide detailed information to proposers.  All
NASA-incentivized technologies will participate in this workshop, but
other participants will be welcome as well.

New Frontiers Program investigations involving entry, descent, and
landing (EDL) into the atmosphere of a Solar System object (including
the Earth) shall include an Engineering Science Activity, to be funded
outside of the cost cap, to obtain diagnostic and technical data about
vehicle performance and entry environments. Details of the goals and
objectives of this activity will be posted on the New Frontiers
Program Acquisition Website (http://newfrontiers.larc.nasa.gov/) in
the Program Library.

New Frontiers Program investigations may propose activities that have
the potential to broaden the scientific impact of investigations as
optional Science Enhancement Options (SEOs).  SEOs include, but are
not limited to, guest investigator programs, general observer
programs, participating scientist programs, interdisciplinary
scientist programs, and archival data analysis programs.  NASA is
considering allowing New Frontiers Program investigations to also
propose Technology Demonstration Opportunities (TDOs) to demonstrate
new capabilities.  TDOs and SEOs are funded outside of the PMMC cap
and may possibly not be selected even if the parent mission is
selected for flight.

NASA will release a draft of the New Frontiers AO in the summer of
2016.  The draft AO will be based on the recent Discovery AO, as well
as the Standard PI-led Mission AO Template.  NASA has begun its
regular assessment and revision of the Standard AO, and, once it is
complete, the Draft New Frontiers AO will be written and provided for
public comment.  Proposers should read the Draft New Frontiers AO
carefully when it is released.

NASA has not approved the issuance of the New Frontiers AO and this
notification does not obligate NASA to issue the AO and solicit
proposals. Any costs incurred by prospective investigators in
preparing submissions in response to this notification or the planned
Draft New Frontiers AO are incurred completely at the submitter's own
risk.

Further information will be posted on the New Frontiers Program
Acquisition Page at http://newfrontiers.larc.nasa.gov/ as it becomes
available.

Questions may be addressed to Dr. Curt Niebur, New Frontiers Program
Lead Scientist, Planetary Science Division, Science Mission
Directorate, NASA, Washington, DC 20546; Tel.: (202) 358-0390; E-mail:
[email protected]
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: NovaSilisko on 01/07/2016 06:35 PM
I'd be pretty enthusiastic about any of those... except the Saturn Probe. Seven years of travel for 55 minutes of data collection, taking up an entire New Frontiers slot doesn't seem like a very good trade. Granted we've never explored Saturn's atmosphere, but it seems like the sort of thing that ought to be piggybacked on another mission rather than butting out all the other missions on this list which look to me to have a much higher overall volume of science return than the probe.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Blackstar on 01/07/2016 08:20 PM
I'd be pretty enthusiastic about any of those... except the Saturn Probe. Seven years of travel for 55 minutes of data collection, taking up an entire New Frontiers slot doesn't seem like a very good trade. Granted we've never explored Saturn's atmosphere, but it seems like the sort of thing that ought to be piggybacked on another mission rather than butting out all the other missions on this list which look to me to have a much higher overall volume of science return than the probe.

The Saturn Probe advocates managed to convince the decadal survey that the science was highly valuable.

Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Star One on 01/07/2016 08:44 PM
Just for my clarification is that an orbiter that will only visit Enceladus & Titan. If so what will it offer over what we have already obtained science wise from Cassini?
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: vjkane on 01/07/2016 09:19 PM
Just for my clarification is that an orbiter that will only visit Enceladus & Titan. If so what will it offer over what we have already obtained science wise from Cassini?
Far, far better instruments.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: hop on 01/07/2016 09:25 PM
Just for my clarification is that an orbiter that will only visit Enceladus & Titan. If so what will it offer over what we have already obtained science wise from Cassini?
Far, far better instruments.
...and they would be specifically targeted based on what we've learned from Cassini. Before Cassini we had no idea didn't know Enceladus even had plumes or an ocean.

edit:
more precise
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: vjkane on 01/07/2016 09:45 PM
Just for my clarification is that an orbiter that will only visit Enceladus & Titan. If so what will it offer over what we have already obtained science wise from Cassini?
Far, far better instruments.
...and they would be specifically targeted based on what we've learned from Cassini. Before Cassini we had no idea Enceladus even had plumes or an ocean.
There were some pretty good hints on vents based on Enceladus' brightness, the E ring, and I believe on some of the coatings on other moons.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Star One on 01/07/2016 10:15 PM
Just for my clarification is that an orbiter that will only visit Enceladus & Titan. If so what will it offer over what we have already obtained science wise from Cassini?
Far, far better instruments.

Would they include the capacity to sample plumes?
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: vjkane on 01/08/2016 01:00 AM
Would they include the capacity to sample plumes?
I'll write a blog post next week on what a mission might look like based on past studies and Discovery proposals.  One Discovery proposal, Journey to Enceladus and Titan, would have carried a volatile-optimized modern mass spectrometer to make far more sensitive composition measurements of Enceladus's plumes and Titan's outer atmosphere.  It would also have carried a thermal imager to map the surface of Titan in much higher resolution than Cassini has as well as the tiger stripes on Enceladus.

The other Discovery proposal, LIFE, would have carried a modern volatile-optimized mass spectrometer and a dust mass spectrometer.  It would not have made measurements at Titan.

The availability of three MMRTGs is crucial for missions to these moons.  The primary use of power on planetary mission is to either heat the spacecraft (half of Juno's watts go to this) and to power the transmitter to return data.  Three MMRTGs would allow significant data return.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: vjkane on 01/08/2016 02:29 AM
Except that Discovery proposals are open-ended. The proposer is not trying to design a mission to answer a given set of scientific questions, they are choosing the questions themselves. Just because somebody has proposed a Discovery mission to one of these bodies in the past does not mean that their scientific goals are ones that the rest of the scientific community believes are worthwhile.
NASA's statement said they would provide more guidance in the AO on the science they are seeking.  Per the statement:

"Five themes are described in the Planetary Science Decadal Survey.
The Ocean Worlds theme for this announcement is tentatively focused on
the search for signs of extant life and/or characterizing the
potential habitability of Titan or Enceladus.   The draft AO will
fully elucidate information on the mission themes."
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: redliox on 01/08/2016 04:57 AM
I'd say of the bunch, I'm the most interested in the Lunar, Ocean, and Trojan missions.  Of course it is probably far too soon to play favorites just yet until we hear the official release on what all these missions would do.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: GClark on 01/08/2016 06:17 AM
It's worth noting that the Lunar South Pole-Aitken Basin Sample Return and Venus In-Situ Explorer missions were finalists for NF3.  The feedback they received then will make any proposal from the same people this time stronger.

Remember what the Juno team had to do & how many times OSIRIS-REX was iterated before they were selected.  Titan and Enceladus have a lot of 'wow' factor, but any mission proposal is going to have to be really solid to get chosen their first time out.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: NovaSilisko on 01/08/2016 06:37 AM
I'd be pretty enthusiastic about any of those... except the Saturn Probe. Seven years of travel for 55 minutes of data collection, taking up an entire New Frontiers slot doesn't seem like a very good trade. Granted we've never explored Saturn's atmosphere, but it seems like the sort of thing that ought to be piggybacked on another mission rather than butting out all the other missions on this list which look to me to have a much higher overall volume of science return than the probe.

The Saturn Probe advocates managed to convince the decadal survey that the science was highly valuable.

I'd like to find out more about it... I feel like I'm missing something about it that makes it more compelling science-wise than I realize.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Star One on 01/08/2016 08:37 AM

Just for my clarification is that an orbiter that will only visit Enceladus & Titan. If so what will it offer over what we have already obtained science wise from Cassini?

And that is the billion dollar question.

The mission concepts in the decadal survey are relatively well defined in terms of science goals and objectives. You'll note that there were no Enceladus or Titan New Frontiers mission options in the DS...

So, what would an Enceladus or Titan mission be? A Titan airplane? A Titan balloon? A Titan lake lander/boat? How about Enceladus? Would it be a sample return mission? Would it be an orbiter? A lander? Or something else? And how, exactly, will a review team evaluate the scientific value of such a mission considering that it is not defined in the Decadal Survey? Is a Titan airplane a "better" mission scientifically than a Titan boat? How do you rate it? Who says one is better? It's so open-ended that it's really hard to figure out what the criteria would be.

I see what you mean. At first thought I'd opt for something like a Titan boat dropped off by an Enceladus orbiter. Planetary protection wise it's probably easier & cheaper to put something on the surface of Titan than it would be Enceladus.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: redliox on 01/08/2016 10:26 AM
As far as the missions for the Saturn system, something like a dual-probe arrangement with a Saturn probe and a Titan balloon/lander could be interesting.  The Saturn probe would be short-term (yet legitimately valuable mission) while the Titan probe (in whatever form it could take) would be a long-term arrangement.  The only disadvantage with both is they'd need to communicate directly with Earth - difficult but not impossible.  I don't see the Saturn probe flying that whole distance by itself (as a mission), simply because the Saturnian system is too valuable to reduce to a mere hour-long expedition.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: vjkane on 01/08/2016 10:39 AM
I see what you mean. At first thought I'd opt for something like a Titan boat dropped off by an Enceladus orbiter. Planetary protection wise it's probably easier & cheaper to put something on the surface of Titan than it would be Enceladus.

Based on past mission studies, I think that you could get either a Titan boat or a capable spacecraft within the cost cap of the New Frontiers program.  A spacecraft would probably do multiple flybys of Titan and/or Enceladus rather than orbit them.  Might be possible to have a foreign space program provide the other element, but there are a lot of hidden costs to building a spacecraft that can carry and relay a probe.  And as has been discussed under the Europa topic, the Huygens probe cost >400 Euros (not counting the cost of the supporting hardware and operations for the Cassini spacecraft).

As Blackstar points out, the option space for the ocean worlds call currently is very large.  I strongly suspect that NASA's managers know this and that they'll narrow down the option space considerably in the AO.  They may not have done this already because they may be consulting with the outer planet scientific community to identify the highest priority goals.  We will probably learn more from the OPAG meeting next month.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: vjkane on 01/08/2016 10:45 AM
As far as the missions for the Saturn system, something like a dual-probe arrangement with a Saturn probe and a Titan balloon/lander could be interesting.  The Saturn probe would be short-term (yet legitimately valuable mission) while the Titan probe (in whatever form it could take) would be a long-term arrangement.  The only disadvantage with both is they'd need to communicate directly with Earth - difficult but not impossible.  I don't see the Saturn probe flying that whole distance by itself (as a mission), simply because the Saturnian system is too valuable to reduce to a mere hour-long expedition.
Best estimate for a Titan balloon without a lander was from the $1B box studies last decade.  As I recall, the price tag then was around $1.5B, which is 50% greater than the New Frontiers cap.

If NASA goes with a Saturn orbiter moon multiflyby approach, it would be nice to have the equivalent of the Electra Mars relay package on the spacecraft so that it could serve as a relay for future missions.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: vjkane on 01/08/2016 10:50 AM
It's worth noting that the Lunar South Pole-Aitken Basin Sample Return and Venus In-Situ Explorer missions were finalists for NF3.  The feedback they received then will make any proposal from the same people this time stronger.

Remember what the Juno team had to do & how many times OSIRIS-REX was iterated before they were selected.  Titan and Enceladus have a lot of 'wow' factor, but any mission proposal is going to have to be really solid to get chosen their first time out.
There have been numerous studies of Titan/Enceladus missions (some very detailed) as well as three Discovery proposals (JET, TiME, LIFE).  A team proposing a Titan/Enceladus mission isn't starting from a clean slate.  I also suspect that based on this heritage (especially the details of the Discovery proposals) that NASA's managers have a pretty good idea of what may be feasible in a New Frontiers mission.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: vjkane on 01/08/2016 10:52 AM
At the AGU conference in December, I chatted with Jim Bell about the Trojan mission his team plans to propose (and he said that this information could be shared).  They are looking at a mission that would orbit at least one asteroid and flyby several more to study the heterogeneity of these objects.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Star One on 01/08/2016 11:20 AM
Didn't studies for TiME indicate that you could get a relatively 'simple' boat craft to last comparatively a long time on the lakes of Titan, well at least in theory?
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: vjkane on 01/08/2016 11:55 AM
Didn't studies for TiME indicate that you could get a relatively 'simple' boat craft to last comparatively a long time on the lakes of Titan, well at least in theory?
In theory, we could imagine merging the TiME proposal for a Titan lake lander with either the JET or LIFE multiflyby spacecraft.  Both were proposed for Discovery missions with a cost cap of $450M (PI costs) versus the $850M PI cost cap for the next New Frontiers mission.  If merged, there could be some shared costs, so the idea might fly.

A future Titan lake lander would require a relay craft because the lakes will not be visible from Earth by the time a mission could arrive now, which would increase costs.

However, we don't know whether or not NASA's review came to the same conclusion as to whether or not these Discovery missions could fit within the Discovery cost cap.  The Decadal Survey mission studies suggested costs much higher for similar concepts, too high to fit within the New Frontiers cost cap.  You may remember that the OSIRIS-REx mission was originally proposed (I seem to remember twice) as a Discovery mission, was rated excellent on science but too expensive on costs for Discovery, and found a home in the New Frontiers program.  A Titan/Enceladus mission may be in the same boat.

My observation is that NASA's managers apparently suspect that a credible Titan and/or Enceladus mission could be done in the New Frontiers cap (they have full details on those Discovery proposals including their independent cost assessments).  Also, an Io multiflyby spacecraft was deemed to be able to fit within the NF cap, and a Titan/Enceladus multiflyby orbiter would seem to be of similar complexity (although with higher mission operations costs because of the longer flight to Saturn, but this is outside the PI cost cap).

I suspect that either a Titan lander or a multiflyby spacecraft would fit within a NF mission.

My gut from following mission proposals for several decades is that combining a lake lander and a multiflyby mission in the same New Frontiers mission is too much.  Might be possible in theory if a foreign space agency contributed one or the other, but foreign contributions are capped.  In theory, a European team could propose, say, a Titan lake lander in the upcoming ESA M5 call, but I don't know how a New Frontiers team could write a proposal that would say that a big element may or may not be selected by ESA. 

So in my day dreams, I like to ponder a multiflyby spacecraft that would lake many years in Saturn orbit that could act as a data relay for subsequent Titan landers or balloons.  Few of my day dreams ever become reality.

Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Star One on 01/08/2016 01:27 PM

Didn't studies for TiME indicate that you could get a relatively 'simple' boat craft to last comparatively a long time on the lakes of Titan, well at least in theory?
In theory, we could imagine merging the TiME proposal for a Titan lake lander with either the JET or LIFE multiflyby spacecraft.  Both were proposed for Discovery missions with a cost cap of $450M (PI costs) versus the $850M PI cost cap for the next New Frontiers mission.  If merged, there could be some shared costs, so the idea might fly.

A future Titan lake lander would require a relay craft because the lakes will not be visible from Earth by the time a mission could arrive now, which would increase costs.

However, we don't know whether or not NASA's review came to the same conclusion as to whether or not these Discovery missions could fit within the Discovery cost cap.  The Decadal Survey mission studies suggested costs much higher for similar concepts, too high to fit within the New Frontiers cost cap.  You may remember that the OSIRIS-REx mission was originally proposed (I seem to remember twice) as a Discovery mission, was rated excellent on science but too expensive on costs for Discovery, and found a home in the New Frontiers program.  A Titan/Enceladus mission may be in the same boat.

My observation is that NASA's managers apparently suspect that a credible Titan and/or Enceladus mission could be done in the New Frontiers cap (they have full details on those Discovery proposals including their independent cost assessments).  Also, an Io multiflyby spacecraft was deemed to be able to fit within the NF cap, and a Titan/Enceladus multiflyby orbiter would seem to be of similar complexity (although with higher mission operations costs because of the longer flight to Saturn, but this is outside the PI cost cap).

I suspect that either a Titan lander or a multiflyby spacecraft would fit within a NF mission.

My gut from following mission proposals for several decades is that combining a lake lander and a multiflyby mission in the same New Frontiers mission is too much.  Might be possible in theory if a foreign space agency contributed one or the other, but foreign contributions are capped.  In theory, a European team could propose, say, a Titan lake lander in the upcoming ESA M5 call, but I don't know how a New Frontiers team could write a proposal that would say that a big element may or may not be selected by ESA. 

So in my day dreams, I like to ponder a multiflyby spacecraft that would lake many years in Saturn orbit that could act as a data relay for subsequent Titan landers or balloons.  Few of my day dreams ever become reality.

It sounds like a multiple flyby craft of both Titan & Enceladus is our best bet. It's so frustrating that we can't get a follow up lander mission to Titan. From what you're saying such a mission would end up in the flagship class.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: notsorandom on 01/08/2016 02:11 PM
As far as the missions for the Saturn system, something like a dual-probe arrangement with a Saturn probe and a Titan balloon/lander could be interesting.  The Saturn probe would be short-term (yet legitimately valuable mission) while the Titan probe (in whatever form it could take) would be a long-term arrangement.  The only disadvantage with both is they'd need to communicate directly with Earth - difficult but not impossible.  I don't see the Saturn probe flying that whole distance by itself (as a mission), simply because the Saturnian system is too valuable to reduce to a mere hour-long expedition.
One of the constraints I remember from TiME proposal was data return rate and total data return because it had to communicate directly back with Earth. An atmosphere probe for Saturn would have to return all its data before it was destroyed. Depending on the amount of data a relay could be desirable or necessary. Also the Galileo atmospheric probe used the Galileo spacecraft as a relay. Some sort of cruise bus would be needed for the probe too. If some sort of cruise/relay spacecraft were needed then one could imagine that spacecraft being given an instrument suite and tasked with doing some additional science in the Saturn system. One would have to avoid mission creep and adding too much otherwise the budget would be blown out.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: baldusi on 01/08/2016 05:25 PM
Well, you could separate the cruise bus as a relay and let it go into a fly by. The probe would only have to transmit to the bus and then it could keep transmitting and re transmitting at leisure.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Star One on 01/08/2016 07:28 PM
And here we have the first article on this.

http://spacenews.com/nasa-expands-frontiers-of-next-new-frontiers-competition/

Could this end up on a SLS if the Titan/Enceladus mission is the one picked as launch costs are outside of the budget cap?
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: as58 on 01/08/2016 08:52 PM
Could this end up on a SLS if the Titan/Enceladus mission is the one picked as launch costs are outside of the budget cap?

The announcement in the first post in this thread tells:

Quote
Launch Vehicle costs and procurement will be the responsibility of
NASA.  A standard launch performance capability will be defined and
provided as GFE and its cost will not be included in the PMMC.  The
cost of mission specific and special launch services, such as for
higher performance launch vehicles or the use of nuclear materials,
are the responsibility of the PI and must be included within the PMMC.
Details of these costs are still under discussion.

It's hard to imagine that SLS would qualify as "standard launch performance capability" but who knows, I wasn't expecting any late additions to the list of eligible missions in the first place.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: spacetraveler on 01/08/2016 09:15 PM
What would be the scientific benefit of lunar sample return over the moon rocks we already have?
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: NovaSilisko on 01/08/2016 09:27 PM
What would be the scientific benefit of lunar sample return over the moon rocks we already have?

They would be the first ever samples from the far side.* The basin is also the lowest point on the moon's surface, and gives access to some very ancient crust material (I believe?)

*unless China pulls a fast one
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: as58 on 01/08/2016 09:37 PM
What would be the scientific benefit of lunar sample return over the moon rocks we already have?

The answer to this and many other questions regarding the choice of candidate missions can of course be found in the decadal survey report, which is available at http://www.nap.edu/read/13117/

A short excerpt:

Quote
South Pole-Aitken Basin Sample Return

The exploration and sample return from the Moon’s South Pole-Aitken Basin are among the highest-priority activities for solar system science. The mission’s high priority stems from its role in addressing multiple objectives outlined in this report, including understanding the interior of the Moon and the impact history of the solar system. Although recent remote sensing missions provide much valuable new data from orbit about the diversity of materials and the geophysical context of this important basin, achieving the highest-priority science objectives requires precision of age measurements to better than ±20 million years and accuracy of trace elemental compositions to the parts-per-billion level, which is only achievable through sample return. The principal scientific reasons for undertaking a South Pole-Aitken Basin Sample Return mission are as follows:

• Determine the chronology of basin-forming impacts and constrain the period of late heavy bombardment in the inner solar system and thus address fundamental questions of inner solar system impact processes and chronology;

• Elucidate the nature of the Moon’s lower crust and mantle by direct measurements of its composition and of sample ages;

• Characterize a large lunar impact basin through “ground truth” validation of global, regional, and local remotely sensed data of the sampled site;

• Elucidate the sources of thorium and other heat-producing elements in order to understand lunar differentiation and thermal evolution; and

• Determine ages and compositions of farside basalts to determine how mantle source regions on the far side of the Moon differ from regions sampled by Apollo and Luna.

Landing on the Moon, collecting appropriate samples, and returning them to Earth requires a New Frontiers-class mission, which has been demonstrated through the 2003 decadal survey and the New Frontiers proposal process. The committee places very high priority on the return of at least 1 kg of rock fragments from the South Pole-Aitken Basin region, selected to maximize the likelihood of achieving the above objectives. Such a mission is significantly enabled by recent orbital missions that have provided high-resolution surface images, allowing a reduction in the risk associated with appropriate site selection and hazard avoidance. Current technology for in situ instrumentation is not adequate for obtaining the required isotopic, geochemical, and mineral-chemical analyses on the Moon; terrestrial laboratories and instrumentation can do the requisite analyses, but expertise in the sample analysis must be sustained through core NASA R&A programs. A robotic lunar sample return mission has extensive “feed-forward” to future sample return missions from other locations on the Moon as well as Mars and other bodies in the solar system.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Star One on 01/08/2016 11:06 PM

What would be the scientific benefit of lunar sample return over the moon rocks we already have?

They would be the first ever samples from the far side.* The basin is also the lowest point on the moon's surface, and gives access to some very ancient crust material (I believe?)

*unless China pulls a fast one

If China does achieve this first I wonder if this project might get sidelined.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Ben the Space Brit on 01/09/2016 03:12 PM
Assuming that the mission is decided on fairly soon, what sort of time-frame are we looking for the probe to be constructed and be ready for launch, based on previous NH-class missions?
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: vjkane on 01/10/2016 04:22 AM
Assuming that the mission is decided on fairly soon, what sort of time-frame are we looking for the probe to be constructed and be ready for launch, based on previous NH-class missions?
2014 for a solar powered mission, 2025 for an MMRTG powered mission
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: baldusi on 01/10/2016 09:14 AM


2014 for a solar powered mission, 2025 for an MMRTG powered mission
The advances in solar power apparently have enabled time travel
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: vjkane on 01/10/2016 02:39 PM
2014 for a solar powered mission, 2025 for an MMRTG powered mission
The advances in solar power apparently have enabled time travel
Yeah, a little known NASA breakthrough.  Next mission, ancient Mars to study those oceans.  :)

The time frame for the solicitation is intended to be:

Release of final AO...........................................January
2017 (target)
Preproposal conference...................................~3 weeks
after final AO release
Proposals due ...................................................~90
days after AO release
Selection for competitive Phase A studies....November 2017 (target)
Concept study reports due...............................October 2018 (target)
Down-selection .................................................May
2019 (target)
KDP B .................................................................August
2019 (target)
Launch readiness date ....................................2024

But later, the statement reads:

"...the usage of MMRTG(s)
requires delaying the LRD by at least one year to no earlier than 2025
to allow for mission-specific funding to support provision of MMRTGs."
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Ben the Space Brit on 01/10/2016 03:36 PM
Purely FWIW, an LRD of the mid-2020s would make a heavyweight or long-haul spacecraft a possible candidate for an SLS launch.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Star One on 01/10/2016 05:39 PM

Purely FWIW, an LRD of the mid-2020s would make a heavyweight or long-haul spacecraft a possible candidate for an SLS launch.

I already suggested that up thread but the suggestion got rather shot down.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: redliox on 01/23/2016 09:33 PM
While not part of this round of NF, in light of the fact it's the 30th Anniversary of Voyager's Uranus encounter I wanted to mention Uranus as a future target.  NF is probably the most likely slot for such a mission since Mars and Europa occupy the flagship niche, and Mars will probably tightly hold that area with MSR and eventually engineering tests for HSF.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Blackstar on 01/23/2016 10:31 PM
While not part of this round of NF, in light of the fact it's the 30th Anniversary of Voyager's Uranus encounter I wanted to mention Uranus as a future target.  NF is probably the most likely slot for such a mission since Mars and Europa occupy the flagship niche, and Mars will probably tightly hold that area with MSR and eventually engineering tests for HSF.

No. You cannot do a meaningful, scientifically worthwhile ice giants mission on a New Frontiers budget. It has to be flagship-class.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: redliox on 01/23/2016 10:40 PM
While not part of this round of NF, in light of the fact it's the 30th Anniversary of Voyager's Uranus encounter I wanted to mention Uranus as a future target.  NF is probably the most likely slot for such a mission since Mars and Europa occupy the flagship niche, and Mars will probably tightly hold that area with MSR and eventually engineering tests for HSF.

No. You cannot do a meaningful, scientifically worthwhile ice giants mission on a New Frontiers budget. It has to be flagship-class.

Another thought (although probably should put it in the Ice Giant thread) since you mention budget: partnership with ESA.  They have a good interest in Uranus too but lack a budget as well.  Given the success of Cassini/Huygens, perhaps collaborating with them would help constrain expenses while maximizing science.  How do you think that situation would affect budget specifically?
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Blackstar on 01/23/2016 11:37 PM
Another thought (although probably should put it in the Ice Giant thread) since you mention budget: partnership with ESA.  They have a good interest in Uranus too but lack a budget as well.  Given the success of Cassini/Huygens, perhaps collaborating with them would help constrain expenses while maximizing science.  How do you think that situation would affect budget specifically?

That is probably how it will happen. But it will still be a flagship-class mission.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Ben the Space Brit on 01/25/2016 11:27 AM
Let's talk about mid-outer solar system targets, specifically the ice giants and the KBOs. Assuming a launch date in the mid-2020s, what sort of planetary alignments would we have for favourable multi-target flybys, even if the mission is ultimately intended to be an ice giant orbiter?

I'm thinking of an Orbiter simulation I saw on YouTube of a flyby of Saturn and Uranus on the way to Eris.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Blackstar on 01/25/2016 12:28 PM
Let's talk about mid-outer solar system targets, specifically the ice giants and the KBOs.


Not a subject for New Frontiers 4.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Star One on 01/25/2016 11:18 PM
Another thought (although probably should put it in the Ice Giant thread) since you mention budget: partnership with ESA.  They have a good interest in Uranus too but lack a budget as well.  Given the success of Cassini/Huygens, perhaps collaborating with them would help constrain expenses while maximizing science.  How do you think that situation would affect budget specifically?

That is probably how it will happen. But it will still be a flagship-class mission.

And it will probably be Neptune & not Uranus as I believe by then Neptune will be the more favourable of the two to reach from Earth.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: ccdengr on 01/26/2016 06:02 AM
You cannot do a meaningful, scientifically worthwhile ice giants mission on a New Frontiers budget. It has to be flagship-class.
Citation needed.  In your opinion?  Per some Aerospace Corp cost model?  Seems like a very definitive statement for something that has so many variables in reality.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: vjkane on 01/26/2016 10:52 AM
If a SEP stage is used, then Uranus probably would be reachable
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: vjkane on 01/26/2016 11:02 AM
I don't know of any study of an orbiter that isn't flagship class. A flyby mission might be done within a NF budget, but the Decadal survey explicitly concluded that the science return wouldn't be worth the cost. An atmospheric probe would just add to the cost for the orbiter even if the probe were supplied by a foreign agency

That said the Aerospace model is probably biased towards high outer planet estimates.  Not a criticism of them. Their historic model data is for multi billion dollar missions. With new horizons, Juno, juice the model probably will be readjusted

I have heard from several scientist and mission architects that they believe the Decadal Enceladus mission estimates were pulled too high as an example. But I don't think we will get a compelling ice giant mission in a new frontiers budget
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: ccdengr on 01/26/2016 03:36 PM
I don't know of any study of an orbiter that isn't flagship class.
IMHO, the system is caught in a feedback loop where no one dares to suggest lower-cost missions because the cost models don't "validate" them.  If a hard cost cap was imposed, and sensible cost-benefit trades were made in a capability-driven way instead of the usual Parkinson's Law/everything but the kitchen sink approach, who knows what might be possible?
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: baldusi on 01/26/2016 03:49 PM
I don't know of any study of an orbiter that isn't flagship class.
IMHO, the system is caught in a feedback loop where no one dares to suggest lower-cost missions because the cost models don't "validate" them.  If a hard cost cap was imposed, and sensible cost-benefit trades were made in a capability-driven way instead of the usual Parkinson's Law/everything but the kitchen sink approach, who knows what might be possible?
What a great idea! Now the hundreds of investigators and engineers have found their solution to enter the much easier New Frontiers and Discovery classes. How silly have all the professionals in the field been that they only bid on the most difficult mission class because they didn't thought of "design to cost".
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Blackstar on 01/26/2016 05:04 PM
You cannot do a meaningful, scientifically worthwhile ice giants mission on a New Frontiers budget. It has to be flagship-class.
Citation needed.  In your opinion?  Per some Aerospace Corp cost model?  Seems like a very definitive statement for something that has so many variables in reality.


You're new here. Go and read the Neptune thread for starters:

http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=33971.0



Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: vjkane on 01/26/2016 05:04 PM
Sarcasm aside, I believe that the problem comes up in fairly brief assessments such as those in the Decadal survey where there isn't time to do lots of trade off studies. For example subsequent Uranus studies found issues with the design assumptions in the survey's Uranus probe.

For Enceladus on the other hand the community has been pursuing design to cost studies.  I don't know how mature they are.

No one I've talked to believes that a Uranus orbiter can be done for less than a flagship cost.  Now there are studies to see if the costs can be dropped from around $3b to $2b
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: mkent on 01/26/2016 11:49 PM
All of this discussion is moot.  The possible targets for New Frontiers 4 were laid out in the announcement of the Announcement of Opportunity:

Comet Surface Sample Return,
Lunar South Pole-Aitken Basin Sample Return,
Saturn Probe,
Trojan Tour and Rendezvous,
Venus In Situ Explorer, and
Ocean Worlds (Titan and Enceladus)

The first five were dictated by the Decadal Survey; the last one was added by Congress.  No other missions will be considered for New Frontiers 4, so proposing a Uranus or Neptune orbiter is a waste of time.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: simonbp on 01/27/2016 08:46 PM
At the AGU conference in December, I chatted with Jim Bell about the Trojan mission his team plans to propose (and he said that this information could be shared).  They are looking at a mission that would orbit at least one asteroid and flyby several more to study the heterogeneity of these objects.

Yeah, it's kind of Lucy on Steroids. But that also means that it only has a chance if Lucy (with is just a multiple flyby mission) does not win Discovery.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: vjkane on 03/02/2016 09:36 PM
There is an Ocean Worlds hearing on Capitol Hill on Thursday.
Starts at 10:30 Eastern

You can watch it at

http://appropriations.house.gov/calendar/eventsingle.aspx?EventID=394422
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Blackstar on 03/05/2016 09:29 PM
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: redliox on 03/05/2016 10:43 PM
Very informative synopsis Blackstar.  It sounds like they're getting a solid plan on schedule, and the plan seems to be the flyby orbiter with a short-term lander launching separately.  Culbertson is surprisingly intelligent for the average politician, and I only wish his polite exchange of conversation with the scientists could be the norm of Congress and the (U.S. at least) government in general.  A very good read.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Graham on 03/05/2016 11:14 PM
I fear that by including a lander the project will easily go over budget and be subject to tons of delays. By splitting them up hopefully at the very least the flyby will be saved, and at best we'll have a lander too
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Blackstar on 03/06/2016 10:54 PM
Very informative synopsis Blackstar.  It sounds like they're getting a solid plan on schedule, and the plan seems to be the flyby orbiter with a short-term lander launching separately.  Culbertson is surprisingly intelligent for the average politician, and I only wish his polite exchange of conversation with the scientists could be the norm of Congress and the (U.S. at least) government in general.  A very good read.

I did not write it.

And I'd note that there's a separate thread for Europa discussions. I included that here because of the connection to New Frontiers 4.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Star One on 06/29/2016 08:37 PM
Jeff Foust ‏@jeff_foust
Green: draft Announcement of Opportunity for next New Frontiers mission due out this summer; final AO in January 2017. #SBAG
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: hop on 08/10/2016 02:51 AM
New Frontiers 4 draft AO
https://nspires.nasaprs.com/external/viewrepositorydocument/cmdocumentid=529393/solicitationId=%7BCC7546D5-3DBD-E646-19F6-45CE5BFC0738%7D/viewSolicitationDocument=1/NF4%20Draft_release8-9-16.pdf

Quote
Comments on Draft AO Due: September 30, 2016
Notices of Intent Due Date: TBD
Proposal Due Date: TBD

ANNOUNCEMENT OF OPPORTUNITY
NEW FRONTIERS PROGRAM
NNH16ZDA008J

FOREWORD

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Science Mission Directorate (SMD) is releasing this Announcement of Opportunity (AO) to solicit Principal Investigator (PI)-led space science investigations for the New Frontiers Program.

Proposed mission investigations must conform to the mission themes described in Section 2.4.
The AO Cost Cap for a New Frontiers mission is $850M in NASA Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 dollars for Phases A through D, not including the cost of the Expendable Launch Vehicle (ELV) or any contributions. NASA expects to select up to one New Frontiers mission to proceed into Phase B and subsequent mission phases. The selected missions will launch no later than December 31, 2024.

Proposers should be aware that this New Frontiers AO closely follows the updated Standard AO and the Discovery 2014 AO. This has resulted in major changes from the previous New Frontiers AO issued in 2009. Some of the major changes include:
• The value of foreign instrument contributions are limited to one-third of the PI-Managed Instrument Cost.
• A standard launch capability is offered as Government Furnished Equipment (GFE). Higher performance or larger fairing will be charged to the PI-Managed Mission Cost.
• Phase E and F costs, excluding the development of ground or flight system software and the development, fabrication, or refurbishment of test-beds, which will be considered deferred Phase D work, are no longer under the AO Cost Cap.
• Proposers are now required to use one parametric cost model as a benchmarking exercise and to report the input file and results in their submission.
• The use of lightweight Radioisotope Heater Units, small radioactive sources, and/or the use of Multi-Mission Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generators (MMRTGs) is permitted.
• A variety of NASA-developed technologies are available for infusion into missions.
• Plans for Student Collaborations, Science Enhancement Options, and Technology Demonstration Options have been deferred to Step-2.
In addition to the listed major changes, this AO incorporates a large number of additional changes relative to previous New Frontiers Program AOs, including both policy changes and changes to proposal submission requirements. All proposers must read this AO carefully, and all proposals must comply with the requirements, constraints, and guidelines contained within this AO.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: hop on 12/09/2016 08:48 PM
Officially announced.

Press release  https://www.nasa.gov/feature/nasa-solicits-proposals-for-future-robotic-solar-system-exploration-mission/

New Frontiers site https://newfrontiers.larc.nasa.gov/

(edit for clarity)
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Star One on 12/09/2016 09:15 PM
Officially announced.

Press release  https://www.nasa.gov/feature/nasa-solicits-proposals-for-future-robotic-solar-system-exploration-mission/

AO site https://newfrontiers.larc.nasa.gov/

With Titan I wouldn't mind seeing something developed off of Titan Mare Explorer. Especially as it seems a better fit for New Frontiers.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: russianhalo117 on 12/09/2016 09:45 PM
NF-4 technology TRL presentations drop: https://newfrontiers.larc.nasa.gov/technology_workshop_agenda.html

Some presentations are currently not available so if anyone has contacts with LaRC please let them know that some links are broken or missing (FOIA request might be required).
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: redliox on 12/10/2016 12:08 AM
Officially announced.

Press release  https://www.nasa.gov/feature/nasa-solicits-proposals-for-future-robotic-solar-system-exploration-mission/

Quoting from the press release:
Quote
Investigations are limited to six mission themes based on the National Research Council’s planetary decadal survey, Visions and Voyages for Planetary Science in the Decade 2013-2022:

Comet Surface Sample Return
Lunar South Pole Aitken Basin Sample Return
Ocean Worlds (Titan and/or Enceladus)
Saturn Probe
Trojan Asteroid Tour and Rendezvous
Venus In Situ Explorer

So they're still focusing on that selection category we heard before (not that it isn't a bad list).

Hard to say which of these I'd favor.  If Lucy isn't picked for Discovery naturally I'd like to see a Trojan mission come out of this, but barring my interest in finding out what Trojans really are I think I'm equally split between the Lunar South Pole and Venus.  Reason: both are nearby but difficult targets, offer direct merit to Earth's evolution, and neither body has been studied from the surface in quite some time (by an American spacecraft).
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Blackstar on 12/10/2016 05:47 AM
NF-4 presentations drop:


To be precise, these are presentations on technology development. They are not presentations to NF-4.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: JH on 12/10/2016 07:35 AM
NF-4 presentations drop: https://newfrontiers.larc.nasa.gov/technology_workshop_agenda.html

That thermoacoustic power converter (TAPC) is downright sexy. (presentation 13)
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: redliox on 01/05/2017 02:40 PM
NASA apparently responded to commentary about the upcoming NF draf: https://newfrontiers.larc.nasa.gov/PDF_FILES/NASA-response-to-comments.pdf (https://newfrontiers.larc.nasa.gov/PDF_FILES/NASA-response-to-comments.pdf)

Most it is dry material, but things like foreign instrument contribution and sample return requirements are brought up with a direct NASA retort given.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: redliox on 01/05/2017 03:22 PM
Well now that the Discovery selection is done the focus may slowly turn toward New Frontiers especially since two targets may be revised in the roster: Trojans and Venus.  The former was selected over the later.

So, in one form or another, we'll presumably be seeing missions targeting:

Luna (South Pole)
Venus
Comets
Saturn
Titan
Enceladus

So in science circles it will soon be the Loonies versus the Venusians versus Deep Impact versus "the Titans" soon in the form of the VEXAG, OPAG, ect in a grand cerebral parody of the Cute King's army...

(http://vignette1.wikia.nocookie.net/adventuretimewithfinnandjake/images/3/39/S3e1_Cutie_charge.gif)
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: yg1968 on 05/06/2017 03:06 PM
Quote from: NASA Press Release
NASA has received and is reviewing 12 proposals for future unmanned solar system exploration. The proposed missions of discovery – submitted under NASA’s New Frontiers program – will undergo scientific and technical review over the next seven months. The goal is to select a mission for flight in about two years, with launch in the mid-2020s.

https://www.nasa.gov/feature/nasa-receives-proposals-for-future-solar-system-mission
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Phil Stooke on 05/06/2017 03:23 PM
redliox: "So, in one form or another, we'll presumably be seeing missions targeting:

Luna (South Pole)"

Just to clarify, it's the South Pole-Aitken basin, not the south pole.  The SPA basin extends from the south pole to the large crater Aitken at about 20 degrees south and takes its informal name from those features.  The actual sampling site is in the middle of the basin at about 60 degrees south. 
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: redliox on 05/06/2017 09:28 PM
Just to clarify, it's the South Pole-Aitken basin, not the south pole.  The SPA basin extends from the south pole to the large crater Aitken at about 20 degrees south and takes its informal name from those features.  The actual sampling site is in the middle of the basin at about 60 degrees south.

What's known about the mission and the site?  The big significance regarding the SPAB I'm aware of is it being deep enough to nearly touch the lunar mantle and, in select spots of course, ice.  I'd like to see what's in mind.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Blackstar on 05/07/2017 12:53 AM
What's known about the mission and the site?  The big significance regarding the SPAB I'm aware of is it being deep enough to nearly touch the lunar mantle and, in select spots of course, ice.  I'd like to see what's in mind.

MoonRise. My guess is that somebody has proposed a mission this time very similar to the one proposed last time.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Blackstar on 05/07/2017 12:58 AM
Well now that the Discovery selection is done the focus may slowly turn toward New Frontiers especially since two targets may be revised in the roster: Trojans and Venus.  The former was selected over the later.

So, in one form or another, we'll presumably be seeing missions targeting:

Luna (South Pole)
Venus
Comets
Saturn
Titan
Enceladus

I don't know why you assume "especially since two targets may be revised in the roster: Trojans and Venus.  The former was selected over the later." The Lucy mission will not accomplish the science outlined in the New Frontiers requirement.

I know of the existence of the following:

1 Venus mission proposal
1 SPAB proposal
1 Saturn Probe proposal
1 Comet sample return proposal
1 Titan helicopter proposal
1 Enceladus proposal (ELF)
at least two other Titan/Enceladus proposals

Of course, there are several more, but I don't know about them.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Phil Stooke on 05/07/2017 01:14 AM
"What's known about the mission and the site? "

This was from LPSC in March:

https://www.hou.usra.edu/meetings/lpsc2017/pdf/1326.pdf (https://www.hou.usra.edu/meetings/lpsc2017/pdf/1326.pdf)

It hasn't changed much in 5 years of planning.  The goal is to sample the impact melt sheet from the SPA impact.  The most important single science goal is to date the impact.  I think it is considered less likely these days  that mantle material will be found.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Archibald on 05/07/2017 09:01 AM
What's known about the mission and the site?  The big significance regarding the SPAB I'm aware of is it being deep enough to nearly touch the lunar mantle and, in select spots of course, ice.  I'd like to see what's in mind.

MoonRise. My guess is that somebody has proposed a mission this time very similar to the one proposed last time.

One of the most unfortunate lunar mission proposal in recent history: while technically sound and interesting, over the last 15 years it has lost competition again and again. 
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Blackstar on 05/07/2017 12:06 PM
One of the most unfortunate lunar mission proposal in recent history: while technically sound and interesting, over the last 15 years it has lost competition again and again. 

I don't think it has been the same proposal and same team.

I have an article about it that I need to update and publish. When I talked to the PI a couple of years ago he explained that one of the major changes is that LRO data has removed a lot of uncertainty about the landing site. The early proposals included a lot of landing site uncertainty. They didn't know much about where they wanted to land or how safe it would be. LRO has produced really good photographic and other measurement data on sites, so now they can land with a lot of certainty. The abstract that Phil linked to above is all about site selection. Their lander and sampler mechanism have been developed and the sampler mechanism has been tested.

Although there are a lot of interesting NF mission options, I am partial to MoonRise and the South Pole Aitken Basin sample return mission. It would really answer a fundamental question in Earth-Moon science. If NASA doesn't do it, then I hope the Chinese do.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: vjkane on 05/08/2017 07:32 PM
I did a tally on possible New Frontiers proposals based on comments here and what I've seen elsewhere.

   Mission   Source
1   Enceladus Life Finder   OPAG 2017
2   Titan Orbiter   OPAG 2017
3   Enceladus/Titan   Blackstar
4   Enceladus/Titan   Blackstar
5   SPRITE   OPAG 2017
6   Trojan Tour and Rendezvous   AGU 2015
7   Comet Sample Return   A'Hearn
8   Comet Sample Return   A'Hearn
9   Comet Sample Return   A'Hearn
10   SPAB sample return   LPSC 2017
11   Venus   Homesteader
12      
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Blackstar on 05/08/2017 07:49 PM
I did a tally on possible New Frontiers proposals based on comments here and what I've seen elsewhere.

   Mission   Source
1   Enceladus Life Finder   OPAG 2017
2   Titan Orbiter   OPAG 2017
3   Enceladus/Titan   Blackstar
4   Enceladus/Titan   Blackstar
5   SPRITE   OPAG 2017
6   Trojan Tour and Rendezvous   AGU 2015
7   Comet Sample Return   A'Hearn
8   Comet Sample Return   A'Hearn
9   Comet Sample Return   A'Hearn
10   SPAB sample return   LPSC 2017
11   Venus   Homesteader
12      


Can you remind me what SPRITE is?

Mike A'Hearn would not be on three mission proposals. I know the PI for one of the comet sample return mission proposals and it is not A'Hearn. So maybe he is running another one?

Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: vjkane on 05/08/2017 07:54 PM

Can you remind me what SPRITE is?

Mike A'Hearn would not be on three mission proposals. I know the PI for one of the comet sample return mission proposals and it is not A'Hearn. So maybe he is running another one?

SPRITE - Saturn Probe Interior and aTmosphere Explorer

A'Hearn wrote a piece about the bright future for small body exploration.  He said in the article that at least three groups are proposing comet sample return missions. So he's the source of information, not a PI
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Blackstar on 05/08/2017 10:56 PM

Can you remind me what SPRITE is?

Mike A'Hearn would not be on three mission proposals. I know the PI for one of the comet sample return mission proposals and it is not A'Hearn. So maybe he is running another one?

SPRITE - Saturn Probe Interior and aTmosphere Explorer

A'Hearn wrote a piece about the bright future for small body exploration.  He said in the article that at least three groups are proposing comet sample return missions. So he's the source of information, not a PI

Gotcha. I suspect I know some of the people involved in two of the groups.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Star One on 06/01/2017 03:07 PM
In light of the Venus proposal this seems applicable here.

Mystery of rare volcanoes on Venus

https://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/news/archive/2017/title,1332305,en.php
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: vjkane on 08/05/2017 02:17 PM
I just published a piece on my blog describing nine of the twelve New Frontiers 4 proposals.  (For two others we know only the destination, and one remains a mystery.)

Link:
http://futureplanets.blogspot.com/2017/08/proposed-new-frontiers-missions.html

Briefly:
Venus In Situ Explorer
•   Venus In situ Composition Investigations (VICI)
•   Venus In Situ Atmospheric and Geochemical Explorer (VISAGE)

Lunar South Pole-Aitken Basin Sample Return
•   Moonrise

Comet Surface Sample Return
•   COmet Nucleus Dust and Organics Return (CONDOR)
•   COmet Rendezvous, Sample Acquisition, Investigation, and Return (CORSAIR)
•   A third mission, led by Stephen Squyres, reportedly has been proposed

Trojan Tour and Rendezvous
•   I have not found any information on any proposed missions. 

Ocean Worlds (Titan and/or Enceladus)
•   Enceladus Life Finder
•   One paper gives the acronym for a 2nd Enceladus proposal, ELSAH
•   Oceanus Titan orbiter
•   Dragonfly Titan mobile lander

Saturn Atmospheric Probe
•   Saturn PRobe Interior and aTmosphere Explorer (SPRITE)


Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: JH on 08/05/2017 06:31 PM
Well, the reviews should be in, as the panel ended yesterday.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Star One on 08/05/2017 08:36 PM
The problem I have with Moonrise is it's just doubling up what the Chinese are going to do. The Nature article that was very recently posted on here about Chinese space science talked about where the US doubles up on stuff the Chinese are doing anyway because of US politics and this seems a perfect example of this.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Blackstar on 08/05/2017 10:57 PM
The problem I have with Moonrise is it's just doubling up what the Chinese are going to do. The Nature article that was very recently posted on here about Chinese space science talked about where the US doubles up on stuff the Chinese are doing anyway because of US politics and this seems a perfect example of this.

No. For starters, a South Pole Aitken Basin Sample Return Mission has been in the planetary decadal survey since 2001, long before the Chinese were doing anything. In addition, we don't know what the Chinese are doing, or if they are going to do it in terms of science goals that are important to the American science community. We also cannot expect them to share the results.

And here's the lesson that the American space science program has learned: if you want something done, you gotta do it yourself, you cannot expect that somebody else is going to do it for you. Only a year or so ago I saw various people saying that it was stupid for NASA to be working on Mars sample return when SpaceX was going to fly their Red Dragon to Mars and soon we would have all the Mars dirt we wanted. (Crickets chirlping) If the science is important to us, then we gotta assemble a program and pay for it and do it.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Star One on 08/05/2017 11:05 PM
The problem I have with Moonrise is it's just doubling up what the Chinese are going to do. The Nature article that was very recently posted on here about Chinese space science talked about where the US doubles up on stuff the Chinese are doing anyway because of US politics and this seems a perfect example of this.

No. For starters, a South Pole Aitken Basin Sample Return Mission has been in the planetary decadal survey since 2001, long before the Chinese were doing anything. In addition, we don't know what the Chinese are doing, or if they are going to do it in terms of science goals that are important to the American science community. We also cannot expect them to share the results.

And here's the lesson that the American space science program has learned: if you want something done, you gotta do it yourself, you cannot expect that somebody else is going to do it for you. Only a year or so ago I saw various people saying that it was stupid for NASA to be working on Mars sample return when SpaceX was going to fly their Red Dragon to Mars and soon we would have all the Mars dirt we wanted. (Crickets chirlping) If the science is important to us, then we gotta assemble a program and pay for it and do it.

To me it's just a waste of US taxpayer dollars on a mission that someone else is going to do when you have more important targets on this list. Just because NASA is bound by Washington politics doesn't make it an excuse for needlessly duplicating a mission. If China wants to throw resources at Lunar science then let them and NASA can get on with other stuff.

Ideally in a couple of decades time Mars and the Moon should be left to US commercial companies and other countries to deal with whilst NASA uses its restricted resources for the outer Solar System.

You talk of China's aims as being unknowable but how much is that is due to China and how much is that due to the US restricting itself from cooperation unlike ESA?
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Phil Stooke on 08/05/2017 11:11 PM
OK, Moonrise is focused on a very specific geological target, the melt sheet of the SPS basin, which should give an unambiguous age for the impact, widely recognized as one of the key measurements required for understanding lunar impact history.  There is no guarantee at all that Chang'E 6 will sample that specific material - or even that it will succeed.  It might sample farside mare basalt, a worthy goal in itself.  It might end up in the Marianas Trench.  If you want to do something you need to do it yourself, as has already been stated.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Star One on 08/05/2017 11:16 PM
OK, Moonrise is focused on a very specific geological target, the melt sheet of the SPS basin, which should give an unambiguous age for the impact, widely recognized as one of the key measurements required for understanding lunar impact history.  There is no guarantee at all that Chang'E 6 will sample that specific material - or even that it will succeed.  It might sample farside mare basalt, a worthy goal in itself.  It might end up in the Marianas Trench.  If you want to do something you need to do it yourself, as has already been stated.

It could be argued by some that a lot of this is because the US will not even talk to China in space matters so you don't know what they are or aren't doing, at least ESA talks to them. Something that self same Nature article I mentioned up thread covered.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Alpha_Centauri on 08/05/2017 11:19 PM
Could the unknown one be BRINE (Biological Resource Investigation of Enceladus) that Chris McKay was working on?  It's a plume flyby.  I see there was a contract out at the start of this year to support this proposal with the same company as did work for ELSAH (Enceladus Life Signatures and Habitability).

ELSAH is apparently also a plume flyby mission (separate to BRINE?), no idea how it differs from ELF.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: zubenelgenubi on 08/06/2017 01:23 AM
The problem I have with Moonrise is it's just doubling up what the Chinese are going to do. The Nature article that was very recently posted on here about Chinese space science talked about where the US doubles up on stuff the Chinese are doing anyway because of US politics and this seems a perfect example of this.

re: Nature article.  Was it this July 26, 2017 article?  China’s quest to become a space science superpower (http://www.nature.com/news/china-s-quest-to-become-a-space-science-superpower-1.22359)

I read one mention of potential mission overlap--ONE.
CNSA's Enhanced X-ray Timing and Polarimetry (eXTP), scheduled for launch circa 2025, has a similar mission scope to STROBE-X, which is in concept study phase for the NRC 2020 Astronomy and Astrophysics Decadal Survey.  If chosen in the survey, which will be published three years from now, it would launch circa 2030.

Blackstar replied to your post quoted above, and you replied.  I've added the POINTs to Blackstar's reply.
No.

Point 1:
For starters, a South Pole Aitken Basin Sample Return Mission has been in the planetary decadal survey since 2001, long before the Chinese were doing anything.

Point 2:
In addition, we don't know what the Chinese are doing, or if they are going to do it in terms of science goals that are important to the American science community.

Point 3:
We also cannot expect them to share the results.

Point 4:
And here's the lesson that the American space science program has learned: if you want something done, you gotta do it yourself, you cannot expect that somebody else is going to do it for you. Only a year or so ago I saw various people saying that it was stupid for NASA to be working on Mars sample return when SpaceX was going to fly their Red Dragon to Mars and soon we would have all the Mars dirt we wanted. (Crickets chirping) If the science is important to us, then we gotta assemble a program and pay for it and do it.

Four factual points in Blackstar's response.  Facts, or deductions from facts.

To me it's just a waste of US taxpayer dollars on a mission that someone else is going to do when you have more important targets on this list. Just because NASA is bound by Washington politics doesn't make it an excuse for needlessly duplicating a mission. If China wants to throw resources at Lunar science then let them and NASA can get on with other stuff.

Ideally in a couple of decades time Mars and the Moon should be left to US commercial companies and other countries to deal with whilst NASA uses its restricted resources for the outer Solar System.

You talk of China's aims as being unknowable but how much is that is due to China and how much is that due to the US restricting itself from cooperation unlike ESA?

Your first paragraph is a collection of several of your opinions.  Your second paragraph is a further statement of your opinions.

You chose not to address Point 1.

Point 2:
How much do Roskosmos or ESA know about future Chang'e detailed mission science goals or how the Chinese plan to execute them?  My hypothesis is: not a lot more than what we're reading in the open literature, or here in the NSF forums.

A possible exception: International mission partners are contractually obligated by the Chinese government to NDAs.

If anyone here has evidence to contradict my guess, and is free to speak on the matter, please speak up.
 
You chose not to address Point 3.
I'll add this.
I know that American scientists will have access to MoonRise lunar samples at or via the Lunar Sample Laboratory Facility (if the mission is chosen and if it is successful).  I don't have that guarantee for Chang'e samples returned to China.

You chose not to address Point 4.

My opinion, in the form of an American ruralism:  You are barking up the wrong tree.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Star One on 08/06/2017 08:11 AM
The problem I have with Moonrise is it's just doubling up what the Chinese are going to do. The Nature article that was very recently posted on here about Chinese space science talked about where the US doubles up on stuff the Chinese are doing anyway because of US politics and this seems a perfect example of this.

re: Nature article.  Was it this July 26, 2017 article?  China’s quest to become a space science superpower (http://www.nature.com/news/china-s-quest-to-become-a-space-science-superpower-1.22359)

I read one mention of potential mission overlap--ONE.
CNSA's Enhanced X-ray Timing and Polarimetry (eXTP), scheduled for launch circa 2025, has a similar mission scope to STROBE-X, which is in concept study phase for the NRC 2020 Astronomy and Astrophysics Decadal Survey.  If chosen in the survey, which will be published three years from now, it would launch circa 2030.

Blackstar replied to your post quoted above, and you replied.  I've added the POINTs to Blackstar's reply.
No.

Point 1:
For starters, a South Pole Aitken Basin Sample Return Mission has been in the planetary decadal survey since 2001, long before the Chinese were doing anything.

Point 2:
In addition, we don't know what the Chinese are doing, or if they are going to do it in terms of science goals that are important to the American science community.

Point 3:
We also cannot expect them to share the results.

Point 4:
And here's the lesson that the American space science program has learned: if you want something done, you gotta do it yourself, you cannot expect that somebody else is going to do it for you. Only a year or so ago I saw various people saying that it was stupid for NASA to be working on Mars sample return when SpaceX was going to fly their Red Dragon to Mars and soon we would have all the Mars dirt we wanted. (Crickets chirping) If the science is important to us, then we gotta assemble a program and pay for it and do it.

Four factual points in Blackstar's response.  Facts, or deductions from facts.

To me it's just a waste of US taxpayer dollars on a mission that someone else is going to do when you have more important targets on this list. Just because NASA is bound by Washington politics doesn't make it an excuse for needlessly duplicating a mission. If China wants to throw resources at Lunar science then let them and NASA can get on with other stuff.

Ideally in a couple of decades time Mars and the Moon should be left to US commercial companies and other countries to deal with whilst NASA uses its restricted resources for the outer Solar System.

You talk of China's aims as being unknowable but how much is that is due to China and how much is that due to the US restricting itself from cooperation unlike ESA?

Your first paragraph is a collection of several of your opinions.  Your second paragraph is a further statement of your opinions.

You chose not to address Point 1.

Point 2:
How much do Roskosmos or ESA know about future Chang'e detailed mission science goals or how the Chinese plan to execute them?  My hypothesis is: not a lot more than what we're reading in the open literature, or here in the NSF forums.

A possible exception: International mission partners are contractually obligated by the Chinese government to NDAs.

If anyone here has evidence to contradict my guess, and is free to speak on the matter, please speak up.
 
You chose not to address Point 3.
I'll add this.
I know that American scientists will have access to MoonRise lunar samples at or via the Lunar Sample Laboratory Facility (if the mission is chosen and if it is successful).  I don't have that guarantee for Chang'e samples returned to China.

You chose not to address Point 4.

My opinion, in the form of an American ruralism:  You are barking up the wrong tree.

Nice that you make the assumption I am American, for your information I am not. I am from the UK and at no point do you seem to have answered the question which is that ESA are able to work with the Chinese and the US isn't and the only difference is politics.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: redliox on 08/07/2017 04:54 AM
I hope for either of the Venus missions first, Moonrise second, and the Saturn probe third.  I would be curious to learn what the 2 mysterious missions would be; hard to make any guestimates without knowing what they'd be up to.

As far as the Moonrise and Lunar sample return discussion, it's not about racing the Chinese it's about sampling a unique region of the Moon.  Either Blackstar or Vjkane would back that up.  Ever since Clementine mission back in the mid-1990s took a decent look they realized the SPAB was surprising.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Star One on 08/07/2017 07:46 AM
I hope for either of the Venus missions first, Moonrise second, and the Saturn probe third.  I would be curious to learn what the 2 mysterious missions would be; hard to make any guestimates without knowing what they'd be up to.

As far as the Moonrise and Lunar sample return discussion, it's not about racing the Chinese it's about sampling a unique region of the Moon.  Either Blackstar or Vjkane would back that up.  Ever since Clementine mission back in the mid-1990s took a decent look they realized the SPAB was surprising.

But why prioritise these over the outer solar system. The results from Cassini strongly call for follow up missions and in light of this I don't understand the seeming bias on here of some against these kind of missions.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: mikelepage on 08/07/2017 02:32 PM
I hope for either of the Venus missions first, Moonrise second, and the Saturn probe third.  I would be curious to learn what the 2 mysterious missions would be; hard to make any guestimates without knowing what they'd be up to.

As far as the Moonrise and Lunar sample return discussion, it's not about racing the Chinese it's about sampling a unique region of the Moon.  Either Blackstar or Vjkane would back that up.  Ever since Clementine mission back in the mid-1990s took a decent look they realized the SPAB was surprising.

But why prioritise these over the outer solar system. The results from Cassini strongly call for follow up missions and in light of this I don't understand the seeming bias on here of some against these kind of missions.

As much as I want to see Venus and Lunar missions, I would also add that outer planet/trojan/comet missions are a better use of the RTGs, which seem to be a fairly limited resource.  Inner solar-system missions can more easily use solar panels, surely.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: vjkane on 08/07/2017 04:16 PM
Only the dragonfly proposal among these nine would use an mmrtg
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Lar on 08/07/2017 08:01 PM
... at no point do you seem to have answered the question which is that ESA are able to work with the Chinese and the US isn't and the only difference is politics.
That question is probably out of scope for this thread. I mean, it's a valid question and all, but not likely that anyone here can solve it. Wish it weren't so. However for American mission planning, it may be best to assume that it is what it is.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Star One on 08/07/2017 08:14 PM
... at no point do you seem to have answered the question which is that ESA are able to work with the Chinese and the US isn't and the only difference is politics.
That question is probably out of scope for this thread. I mean, it's a valid question and all, but not likely that anyone here can solve it. Wish it weren't so. However for American mission planning, it may be best to assume that it is what it is.

Is there some genuine reason on why NASA is lumbered with such a hardline stance by the politicians. The explanations I've seen often seem to reflect the stance of the author as much as anything.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Blackstar on 08/07/2017 08:26 PM
... at no point do you seem to have answered the question which is that ESA are able to work with the Chinese and the US isn't and the only difference is politics.
That question is probably out of scope for this thread. I mean, it's a valid question and all, but not likely that anyone here can solve it. Wish it weren't so. However for American mission planning, it may be best to assume that it is what it is.

I think it is a valid question for another thread. And I do think that a full explanation requires delving into political issues. There are other valid questions about international participation in New Frontiers, such as how much international participation is, and should be, allowed. Keep in mind that international cooperation is also a management issue. One of the things that NASA has faced in the past is that people proposing missions have sought to lower the cost of their mission by including non-American instruments in their proposal. However, they have less control over those instruments, which increases the programmatic risk to the mission (meaning the possibility that it could go over budget or fall behind schedule). For that reason, NASA as an agency has a legitimate reason to limit international participation in competed science missions like New Frontiers.

I'll add a couple of things:

1-although it's common and easy to label the Americans as the problem here, that's not always true. Yeah, the United States did really screw over ESA by dropping out of ExoMars. That decision was made by OMB, not by NASA. But other countries are not completely blameless in these things. And as I am very fond of saying, it is complicated. Look at what happened with InSight, where it was the non-American instrument that screwed up, delaying the mission, and costing NASA a significant amount of money.

2-there is more to the China issue than can be publicly discussed. There's a back-story to this issue that is not public, and shouldn't be public. Without going into it, I'd just suggest reading my first point above. I used to think it made great sense to pursue greater space science cooperation with China, but I no longer do.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Lar on 08/07/2017 08:29 PM
Is there some genuine reason on why NASA is lumbered with such a hardline stance by the politicians. The explanations I've seen often seem to reflect the stance of the author as much as anything.

The reason I have always heard is that it is based on our system of government. All spending bills originate from Congress, and usually have detailed line items directing spending for certain things, along with a lot of specific policy directives. Contrast that with a parlimentary system in which ministers have wide discretion to set policy and unless the government fails a vote of confidence, what a minister says holds. So if Congress directs NASA not to cooperate, NASA does not cooperate. If Congress is mute on a point but the executive branch higher ups give NASA policy direction, NASA complies.

Whether that reason is "genuine" or not? I don't know. But again, a bit out of scope. Even if the discussion were in space policy,  it might be out of scope. Hope that (and Blackstar's EXCELLENT explanation as well)  sorts it and we can get back on topic?
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Star One on 08/07/2017 08:31 PM
... at no point do you seem to have answered the question which is that ESA are able to work with the Chinese and the US isn't and the only difference is politics.
That question is probably out of scope for this thread. I mean, it's a valid question and all, but not likely that anyone here can solve it. Wish it weren't so. However for American mission planning, it may be best to assume that it is what it is.

I think it is a valid question for another thread. And I do think that a full explanation requires delving into political issues. There are other valid questions about international participation in New Frontiers, such as how much international participation is, and should be, allowed. Keep in mind that international cooperation is also a management issue. One of the things that NASA has faced in the past is that people proposing missions have sought to lower the cost of their mission by including non-American instruments in their proposal. However, they have less control over those instruments, which increases the programmatic risk to the mission (meaning the possibility that it could go over budget or fall behind schedule). For that reason, NASA as an agency has a legitimate reason to limit international participation in competed science missions like New Frontiers.

I'll add a couple of things:

1-although it's common and easy to label the Americans as the problem here, that's not always true. Yeah, the United States did really screw over ESA by dropping out of ExoMars. That decision was made by OMB, not by NASA. But other countries are not completely blameless in these things. And as I am very fond of saying, it is complicated. Look at what happened with InSight, where it was the non-American instrument that screwed up, delaying the mission, and costing NASA a significant amount of money.

2-there is more to the China issue than can be publicly discussed. There's a back-story to this issue that is not public, and shouldn't be public. Without going into it, I'd just suggest reading my first point above. I used to think it made great sense to pursue greater space science cooperation with China, but I no longer do.

Yes but looking at what you're saying here as a non-American could easily sound like we don't trust other countries they are unreliable and will let you down. I could easily say after ExoMars that ESA should have nothing to do with NASA as they are unreliable and will let you down. But space is supposed to be above this kind of thing but if it isn't then that's a great shame.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Star One on 08/07/2017 08:32 PM
Is there some genuine reason on why NASA is lumbered with such a hardline stance by the politicians. The explanations I've seen often seem to reflect the stance of the author as much as anything.

The reason I have always heard is that it is based on our system of government. All spending bills originate from Congress, and usually have detailed line items directing spending for certain things, along with a lot of specific policy directives. Contrast that with a parlimentary system in which ministers have wide discretion to set policy and unless the government fails a vote of confidence, what a minister says holds. So if Congress directs NASA not to cooperate, NASA does not cooperate. If Congress is mute on a point but the executive branch higher ups give NASA policy direction, NASA complies.

Whether that reason is "genuine" or not? I don't know. But again, a bit out of scope. Even if the discussion were in space policy,  it might be out of scope. Hope that (and Blackstar's EXCELLENT explanation as well)  sorts it and we can get back on topic?

Thank you for your response.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Blackstar on 08/07/2017 08:54 PM
Yes but looking at what you're saying here as a non-American could easily sound like we don't trust other countries they are unreliable and will let you down. I could easily say after ExoMars that ESA should have nothing to do with NASA as they are unreliable and will let you down. But space is supposed to be above this kind of thing but if it isn't then that's a great shame.

MOST American space projects have some form of international participation. Non-American instruments are flying on American spacecraft a lot (you're welcome). It is not a case that "we don't trust other countries."

As I noted, it's a complicated issue. I don't have time or energy to explain it in detail here or in the policy section. And I doubt that I'd change your mind because it already seems pretty made up.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Blackstar on 08/07/2017 09:05 PM
Whether that reason is "genuine" or not? I don't know. But again, a bit out of scope. Even if the discussion were in space policy,  it might be out of scope.

I think that such a discussion would be perfectly in-scope for the policy section. You can't simply cover your eyes and ears and pretend that different political points of view have no effect upon the space program. The China restrictions were imposed by some Republicans because they have strong ideological views, and those views are different than the Democrats. That said, as I noted in another post, there's more to that subject than can be publicly discussed.

But... those China restrictions are also not relevant to the New Frontiers program. It is a competitive program to respond to the science goals of the American scientific community. If the American scientific community wants to answer scientific questions, then it is up to the Americans to pay to answer those questions and not expect that somebody else is going to do it for them. NASA has to take the mission proposals and evaluate them. One of their evaluation criteria can be the amount of international participation that is in the proposal, and they can limit that participation at the start of the competition (when they issue an announcement of opportunity). They have in recent years changed the amount of international participation that is allowed within competitions, although I don't know the details. They limit that participation in order to limit the programmatic risk.

I'd also point everybody back to where these science questions are developed. They are developed within the planetary science decadal survey, and the participation in the decadal survey is mostly American scientists. When they come up with a science question, they want to be the ones who answer that question, they want to do the work. They don't want to leave it to somebody else. When you go to a restaurant you order the food that you want to eat, not order food so other people can eat it for you.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: vjkane on 08/07/2017 09:07 PM
And a lot of US instruments fly on other agencies' spacecraft.  It is a good system but it does add management complexity for the senior agency whoever it is

Perhaps a bigger issue causing NASA to limit foreign instruments to a minority is that they are an American agency that 1) wants to support American scientists and 2) they want to see some of the instruments they pay to develop fly.  Other agencies have the same motivations
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Star One on 08/07/2017 09:10 PM
And a lot of US instruments fly on other agencies' spacecraft.  It is a good system but it does add management complexity for the senior agency whoever it is

Perhaps a bigger issue causing NASA to limit foreign instruments to a minority is that they are an American agency that 1) wants to support American scientists and 2) they want to see some of the instruments they pay to develop fly.  Other agencies have the same motivations

That's alright then let's not progress and use space as a best example to present to the upcoming generations but just replicate the same old divisions. I guess I am just naive in thinking space exploration could be the one area where we try and set a better example because clearly this is pointless.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Sam Ho on 08/07/2017 09:23 PM
To try to keep this on topic, the NF4 AO specified that international contributions should be no more than one-third.  There are separate one-third limits for instruments and for PMMC.

Similarly, recent ESA AOs have set a limit on international participation of 20% of total mission envelope, and required that international contributions be replaceable using European technology.

One could recount the list of projects that lost international partners midstream (Ulysses, LISA, ExoMars) but that's neither here nor there.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Jim on 08/07/2017 10:24 PM
And a lot of US instruments fly on other agencies' spacecraft.  It is a good system but it does add management complexity for the senior agency whoever it is

Perhaps a bigger issue causing NASA to limit foreign instruments to a minority is that they are an American agency that 1) wants to support American scientists and 2) they want to see some of the instruments they pay to develop fly.  Other agencies have the same motivations

That's alright then let's not progress and use space as a best example to present to the upcoming generations but just replicate the same old divisions. I guess I am just naive in thinking space exploration could be the one area where we try and set a better example because clearly this is pointless.

Why does space have to be different than the real world?
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Lar on 08/08/2017 04:08 AM
Blackstar, you convinced me, a carefully crafted starter post could very well spur a good, productive, and on topic discussion of this in Space Policy.

No one is required to create a thread just bacuse someone else thinks it's a good idea, but I can't think of anyone that would do a better job than you, so please consider it if you have time and interest.  Everyone else, this ISN'T space policy, please stay out of policy and stick to science. You all know better. Thanks.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Star One on 08/08/2017 09:39 AM
And a lot of US instruments fly on other agencies' spacecraft.  It is a good system but it does add management complexity for the senior agency whoever it is

Perhaps a bigger issue causing NASA to limit foreign instruments to a minority is that they are an American agency that 1) wants to support American scientists and 2) they want to see some of the instruments they pay to develop fly.  Other agencies have the same motivations

That's alright then let's not progress and use space as a best example to present to the upcoming generations but just replicate the same old divisions. I guess I am just naive in thinking space exploration could be the one area where we try and set a better example because clearly this is pointless.

Why does space have to be different than the real world?

Because it should be.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Ben the Space Brit on 08/08/2017 10:54 AM
Why does space have to be different than the real world?

Because it should be.

That's not going to happen so long as the majority of the money is governmental in origin, unfortunately. Space is soft power and has been from the start of the state space agencies.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Star One on 08/08/2017 11:29 AM
Why does space have to be different than the real world?

Because it should be.

That's not going to happen so long as the majority of the money is governmental in origin, unfortunately. Space is soft power and has been from the start of the state space agencies.

Are you effectively suggesting only commercial space can rise above politics?
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Ben the Space Brit on 08/08/2017 12:41 PM
No, I'm saying that only non-governmental space will be able to rise above politics. Even commercial providers will at least at first have to obey the diktats of the government in whose territory they operate. The only way to circumvent governmental interference is to have a privately-commissioned spacecraft and funded from non-government-controlled sources.

FWIW, that's still a decade off at the very least but, with the advent of 'crowd funding' is at least conceptually possible.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Star One on 08/08/2017 02:10 PM
I think now's the time to get back to discussing New Frontiers 4, huh?

There's nothing too discuss at this time.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Jim on 08/08/2017 02:18 PM
And a lot of US instruments fly on other agencies' spacecraft.  It is a good system but it does add management complexity for the senior agency whoever it is

Perhaps a bigger issue causing NASA to limit foreign instruments to a minority is that they are an American agency that 1) wants to support American scientists and 2) they want to see some of the instruments they pay to develop fly.  Other agencies have the same motivations

That's alright then let's not progress and use space as a best example to present to the upcoming generations but just replicate the same old divisions. I guess I am just naive in thinking space exploration could be the one area where we try and set a better example because clearly this is pointless.

Why does space have to be different than the real world?

Because it should be.

This isn't Star Trek.  Space isn't any different than a piece of land, a body of water, etc.  Whereever humans go, they will bring their failings with them.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Star One on 08/08/2017 02:26 PM
And a lot of US instruments fly on other agencies' spacecraft.  It is a good system but it does add management complexity for the senior agency whoever it is

Perhaps a bigger issue causing NASA to limit foreign instruments to a minority is that they are an American agency that 1) wants to support American scientists and 2) they want to see some of the instruments they pay to develop fly.  Other agencies have the same motivations

That's alright then let's not progress and use space as a best example to present to the upcoming generations but just replicate the same old divisions. I guess I am just naive in thinking space exploration could be the one area where we try and set a better example because clearly this is pointless.

Why does space have to be different than the real world?

Because it should be.

This isn't Star Trek.  Space isn't any different than a piece of land, a body of water, etc.  Whereever humans go, they will bring their failings with them.

Well perhaps we should strive not too.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: gongora on 08/08/2017 02:44 PM
I think now's the time to get back to discussing New Frontiers 4, huh?

There's nothing too discuss at this time.

That's not an excuse to turn this into your personal space policy thread.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: as58 on 08/08/2017 03:04 PM
So to get back to NF4: any updates on schedule? The tentative timeline from AO says that Step-1 selection is expected in November. Is that still the plan?
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Zed_Noir on 08/08/2017 10:52 PM
So does folks think TPTB at NASA for NF4 will pick the mission with the least cost & complexity or some X-mas tree mission with lots add-on ornaments bleeding edge tech?
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: AegeanBlue on 08/08/2017 11:40 PM
So does folks think TPTB at NASA for NF4 will pick the mission with the least cost & complexity or some X-mas tree mission with lots add-on ornaments bleeding edge tech?

Considering that the Planetary budget is likely to get strained by the Europa missions, I see them going conservative on NF4. Discovery and New Frontiers anyway came out as a rejection of the Christmas tree approach, none of the three so far have seen overloading on instruments. Leave that to flagships.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Blackstar on 08/09/2017 12:09 AM
Considering that the Planetary budget is likely to get strained by the Europa missions, I see them going conservative on NF4. Discovery and New Frontiers anyway came out as a rejection of the Christmas tree approach, none of the three so far have seen overloading on instruments. Leave that to flagships.

I think you're mushing a whole lot of issues into one category, and that's not the right way to look at it.

For starters, both Discovery and New Frontiers have cost caps. So every proposal has to fit within the cost cap. That inherently prevents loading up on instruments.

But a related issue is how NASA wants to evaluate the proposals that it determines will fit within the cost cap. Suppose NASA has two NF missions, both equal in every way (if there is a way to say that the science of a Venus mission is equal to the science of a comet sample return mission). Now what does NASA do when they have independent cost estimates of both missions and they determine that there is a 30% chance that Mission A will bust its cost cap, and a 35% chance that Mission B will bust its cost cap? Do they make their decision solely upon the basis of cost realism? (In which case, they pick Mission A.) Or do they make their decision based upon another criteria, like programmatic balance? (Meaning, they may select the Venus mission because it has been three decades since the last American Venus mission.)

Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Star One on 08/10/2017 08:33 PM
I think now's the time to get back to discussing New Frontiers 4, huh?

There's nothing too discuss at this time.

That's not an excuse to turn this into your personal space policy thread.

The idea of creating a policy thread was floated by another poster up thread.

https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=39263.msg1710831#msg1710831
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: JH on 08/10/2017 08:54 PM
I just published a piece on my blog describing nine of the twelve New Frontiers 4 proposals.  (For two others we know only the destination, and one remains a mystery.)

Link:
http://futureplanets.blogspot.com/2017/08/proposed-new-frontiers-missions.html

Briefly:
Venus In Situ Explorer
•   Venus In situ Composition Investigations (VICI)
•   Venus In Situ Atmospheric and Geochemical Explorer (VISAGE)

Lunar South Pole-Aitken Basin Sample Return
•   Moonrise

Comet Surface Sample Return
•   COmet Nucleus Dust and Organics Return (CONDOR)
•   COmet Rendezvous, Sample Acquisition, Investigation, and Return (CORSAIR)
•   A third mission, led by Stephen Squyres, reportedly has been proposed

Trojan Tour and Rendezvous
•   I have not found any information on any proposed missions. 

Ocean Worlds (Titan and/or Enceladus)
•   Enceladus Life Finder
•   One paper gives the acronym for a 2nd Enceladus proposal, ELSAH
•   Oceanus Titan orbiter
•   Dragonfly Titan mobile lander

Saturn Atmospheric Probe
•   Saturn PRobe Interior and aTmosphere Explorer (SPRITE)

The final one is a third Venus proposal.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Blackstar on 08/15/2017 03:21 PM
Briefly:
Venus In Situ Explorer
•   Venus In situ Composition Investigations (VICI)
•   Venus In Situ Atmospheric and Geochemical Explorer (VISAGE)

Lunar South Pole-Aitken Basin Sample Return
•   Moonrise

Comet Surface Sample Return
•   COmet Nucleus Dust and Organics Return (CONDOR)
•   COmet Rendezvous, Sample Acquisition, Investigation, and Return (CORSAIR)
•   A third mission, led by Stephen Squyres, reportedly has been proposed

Trojan Tour and Rendezvous
•   I have not found any information on any proposed missions. 

Ocean Worlds (Titan and/or Enceladus)
•   Enceladus Life Finder
•   One paper gives the acronym for a 2nd Enceladus proposal, ELSAH
•   Oceanus Titan orbiter
•   Dragonfly Titan mobile lander

Saturn Atmospheric Probe
•   Saturn PRobe Interior and aTmosphere Explorer (SPRITE)


I just heard that NASA is holding 3 MMRTGs (in terms of fuel) for this competition. Which of the above missions would likely require an MMRTG? The comet, Trojan, and Enceladus missions are the only ones that I can think of. Saturn probe should be batteries, right? Is there any indication of these clearly needing an MMRTG?

Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: whitelancer64 on 08/15/2017 03:50 PM
Briefly:
Venus In Situ Explorer
•   Venus In situ Composition Investigations (VICI)
•   Venus In Situ Atmospheric and Geochemical Explorer (VISAGE)

Lunar South Pole-Aitken Basin Sample Return
•   Moonrise

Comet Surface Sample Return
•   COmet Nucleus Dust and Organics Return (CONDOR)
•   COmet Rendezvous, Sample Acquisition, Investigation, and Return (CORSAIR)
•   A third mission, led by Stephen Squyres, reportedly has been proposed

Trojan Tour and Rendezvous
•   I have not found any information on any proposed missions. 

Ocean Worlds (Titan and/or Enceladus)
•   Enceladus Life Finder
•   One paper gives the acronym for a 2nd Enceladus proposal, ELSAH
•   Oceanus Titan orbiter
•   Dragonfly Titan mobile lander

Saturn Atmospheric Probe
•   Saturn PRobe Interior and aTmosphere Explorer (SPRITE)


I just heard that NASA is holding 3 MMRTGs (in terms of fuel) for this competition. Which of the above missions would likely require an MMRTG? The comet, Trojan, and Enceladus missions are the only ones that I can think of. Saturn probe should be batteries, right? Is there any indication of these clearly needing an MMRTG?

The Saturn atmospheric probe proposal has the use of an RTG to provide power on the carrier spacecraft. Of course, once released from the carrier, the probe would run on its batteries. The carrier would be on a flyby trajectory.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Star One on 08/15/2017 03:57 PM
Briefly:
Venus In Situ Explorer
•Venus In situ Composition Investigations (VICI)
•Venus In Situ Atmospheric and Geochemical Explorer (VISAGE)

Lunar South Pole-Aitken Basin Sample Return
•Moonrise

Comet Surface Sample Return
•COmet Nucleus Dust and Organics Return (CONDOR)
•COmet Rendezvous, Sample Acquisition, Investigation, and Return (CORSAIR)
•A third mission, led by Stephen Squyres, reportedly has been proposed

Trojan Tour and Rendezvous
•I have not found any information on any proposed missions. 

Ocean Worlds (Titan and/or Enceladus)
•Enceladus Life Finder
•One paper gives the acronym for a 2nd Enceladus proposal, ELSAH
•Oceanus Titan orbiter
•Dragonfly Titan mobile lander

Saturn Atmospheric Probe
•Saturn PRobe Interior and aTmosphere Explorer (SPRITE)


I just heard that NASA is holding 3 MMRTGs (in terms of fuel) for this competition. Which of the above missions would likely require an MMRTG? The comet, Trojan, and Enceladus missions are the only ones that I can think of. Saturn probe should be batteries, right? Is there any indication of these clearly needing an MMRTG?

The Saturn atmospheric probe proposal has the use of an RTG to provide power on the carrier spacecraft. Of course, once released from the carrier, the probe would run on its batteries. The carrier would be on a flyby trajectory.

Wouldn't the Titan orbiter need one, or even the lander mission?
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: vjkane on 08/15/2017 04:35 PM
Briefly:
Venus In Situ Explorer
•   Venus In situ Composition Investigations (VICI)
•   Venus In Situ Atmospheric and Geochemical Explorer (VISAGE)

Lunar South Pole-Aitken Basin Sample Return
•   Moonrise

Comet Surface Sample Return
•   COmet Nucleus Dust and Organics Return (CONDOR)
•   COmet Rendezvous, Sample Acquisition, Investigation, and Return (CORSAIR)
•   A third mission, led by Stephen Squyres, reportedly has been proposed

Trojan Tour and Rendezvous
•   I have not found any information on any proposed missions. 

Ocean Worlds (Titan and/or Enceladus)
•   Enceladus Life Finder
•   One paper gives the acronym for a 2nd Enceladus proposal, ELSAH
•   Oceanus Titan orbiter
•   Dragonfly Titan mobile lander

Saturn Atmospheric Probe
•   Saturn PRobe Interior and aTmosphere Explorer (SPRITE)


I just heard that NASA is holding 3 MMRTGs (in terms of fuel) for this competition. Which of the above missions would likely require an MMRTG? The comet, Trojan, and Enceladus missions are the only ones that I can think of. Saturn probe should be batteries, right? Is there any indication of these clearly needing an MMRTG?
In the last several years, proposing teams (which means the engineers on those teams) have become comfortable with using solar power as far out at Saturn.  The ELF, Oceanus, and SPRITE missions are stated to be solar powered.  Dragonfly requires and MMRTG since Titan's haze diminishes sunlight and the craft would need power during 8 Earth day long Titan nights.

For the rest of the missions, solar power appears sufficient.  The CONDOR and CORSAIR comet sample return missions are stated to use solar power, and I cannot think of a reason why the Moonrise or any of the three Venus missions would not use solar power.  It's possible that the ELSAH Enceladus or the third comet mission might use an MMRTG, but the additional financial burdens that using a radioisotope power supply would seem to put these missions at a disadvantage.

It may be that review panels will conclude that solar power at Saturn is too risky, but I would be surprised.  There have been several Discovery and ESA medium class missions proposed for solar power.  If this was a deal killer, the engineering community should know this by now.

So it seems that MMRTGs are now needed for missions where 1) the spacecraft will operate beyond Saturn, 2) there's a location specific feature that makes solar infeasible (long-lived Venus or Titan landers or the permanently shadowed craters on the moon), or the size of the solar panels would make design impracticable (larger Mars rover like Curiosity, although there were versions shows with large solar panels).

If NASA has fuel for three MMRTGs beyond the Mars 2020 rover, I'm not sure which missions are likely to be chosen in the coming decade to use up that supply.  An ice giant orbiter would make a dent, but it wouldn't launch until the early 2030s.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Star One on 08/15/2017 04:49 PM
If NASA has fuel for three MMRTGs beyond the Mars 2020 rover, I'm not sure which missions are likely to be chosen in the coming decade to use up that supply.  An ice giant orbiter would make a dent, but it wouldn't launch until the early 2030s.

Surely fuel stocks would have been replenished by 2030s to allow the manufacture of more.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Jim on 08/15/2017 05:08 PM

Surely fuel stocks would have been replenished by 2030s to allow the manufacture of more.

With what production?
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Star One on 08/15/2017 05:40 PM

Surely fuel stocks would have been replenished by 2030s to allow the manufacture of more.

With what production?

They've restarted production I thought.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: vjkane on 08/15/2017 05:45 PM

Surely fuel stocks would have been replenished by 2030s to allow the manufacture of more.

With what production?
NASA plans to be producing ~1.5 kg of Pu-238 per year by the early 2020s.  With a single MMRTG using 4.8 kg of Pu238, this would allow NASA to produce around 3 new MMRTGs per decade.  If NASA has sufficient Pu-238 on hand for 3 MMRTGs after the Mars 2020 rover, then by the end of the 2020s, it would have ~6 MMRTGs (or even better, the eMMRTGs).  Most of the conceptual orbiter designs from the recent ice giants study used 5 eMMRTGs (same fuel requirement as MMRTGs).  If the next Decadal Survey prioritizes an ice giant orbiter, this leaves something like 1 (this is rough calculations!) for a mission between now and then.

Choose well, NASA!
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Blackstar on 08/15/2017 05:53 PM

Surely fuel stocks would have been replenished by 2030s to allow the manufacture of more.

With what production?
NASA plans to be producing ~1.5 kg of Pu-238 per year by the early 2020s.  With a single MMRTG using 4.8 kg of Pu238, this would allow NASA to produce around 3 new MMRTGs per decade.  If NASA has sufficient Pu-238 on hand for 3 MMRTGs after the Mars 2020 rover, then by the end of the 2020s, it would have ~6 MMRTGs (or even better, the eMMRTGs).  Most of the conceptual orbiter designs from the recent ice giants study used 5 eMMRTGs (same fuel requirement as MMRTGs).  If the next Decadal Survey prioritizes an ice giant orbiter, this leaves something like 1 (this is rough calculations!) for a mission between now and then.

Choose well, NASA!

I just saw (this morning) a chart that is probably public that shows Pu-238 production and demands. There's enough for Mars 2020 (already allocated) and enough for the NF4, assuming 3 MMRTGs, and then enough for one additional mission such as an ice giants mission, although that would start to tap into new production. I need to look at the slide again. They are blending in the newly-acquired "old" Pu-238 and this extends the current stock of "newer" Pu-238. And by 2019 they will be producing 1.5 kg of Pu-238 per year.

So you are correct and the quick answer is that if they do Mars 2020, NF4, and an ice giants mission, they will then not have enough for any other missions until they get the new production Pu-238.

Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Star One on 08/15/2017 05:57 PM

Surely fuel stocks would have been replenished by 2030s to allow the manufacture of more.

With what production?
NASA plans to be producing ~1.5 kg of Pu-238 per year by the early 2020s.  With a single MMRTG using 4.8 kg of Pu238, this would allow NASA to produce around 3 new MMRTGs per decade.  If NASA has sufficient Pu-238 on hand for 3 MMRTGs after the Mars 2020 rover, then by the end of the 2020s, it would have ~6 MMRTGs (or even better, the eMMRTGs).  Most of the conceptual orbiter designs from the recent ice giants study used 5 eMMRTGs (same fuel requirement as MMRTGs).  If the next Decadal Survey prioritizes an ice giant orbiter, this leaves something like 1 (this is rough calculations!) for a mission between now and then.

Choose well, NASA!

I just saw (this morning) a chart that is probably public that shows Pu-238 production and demands. There's enough for Mars 2020 (already allocated) and enough for the NF4, assuming 3 MMRTGs, and then enough for one additional mission such as an ice giants mission, although that would start to tap into new production. I need to look at the slide again. They are blending in the newly-acquired "old" Pu-238 and this extends the current stock of "newer" Pu-238. And by 2019 they will be producing 1.5 kg of Pu-238 per year.

So you are correct and the quick answer is that if they do Mars 2020, NF4, and an ice giants mission, they will then not have enough for any other missions until they get the new production Pu-238.

Does this also depend on if Neptune or Uranus is chosen? Is one more demanding in this area than the other?
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Blackstar on 08/15/2017 06:11 PM
They've restarted production I thought.

They have, but not full scale. They got something like 100 grams, but it will not be until 2019 that they will be able to produce 1.5 kg per year.

Pu-238 production gets complicated fast. There's the existing stockpile, then there is the older, depleted material that became available around 2013. And then there is new production. Think of the older depleted stuff kinda like adding water to a stew--you get a soup and you can feed more people, but at lower density. So they can stretch out the supply a bit.

I was curious, and I raised this issue, because if an MMRTG is not required for NF4, then of course the existing supply can be stretched out longer. But that's not necessarily a good thing in terms of programmatics. We've been kicking the can down the road for decades now, and I'd rather not give anybody an excuse to not produce new Pu-238.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: redliox on 08/15/2017 06:21 PM
Does this also depend on if Neptune or Uranus is chosen? Is one more demanding in this area than the other?

I don't think it matters.

Agreed, although it does mean once the choice is made it'll be probably a further decade before the other ice giant can be visited.  This of course is more relevant to the ice giant thread.

Out of the current NF choices, which actually requires RTGs?  I assume the Saturn (and its moons) proposals, which are collectively 4, the possible Trojan mission, and I assume at least one of the comet missions?
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: vjkane on 08/15/2017 06:26 PM
Agreed, although it does mean once the choice is made it'll be probably a further decade before the other ice giant can be visited.  This of course is more relevant to the ice giant thread.

Out of the current NF choices, which actually requires RTGs?  I assume the Saturn (and its moons) proposals, which are collectively 4, the possible Trojan mission, and I assume at least one of the comet missions?
It appears that only Dragonfly would need MMRTGs.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Blackstar on 08/15/2017 06:35 PM
The Saturn atmospheric probe proposal has the use of an RTG to provide power on the carrier spacecraft. Of course, once released from the carrier, the probe would run on its batteries. The carrier would be on a flyby trajectory.

I dug around for the SPRITE Saturn probe mission and couldn't find anything about a mission architecture. Do you know if they proposed using an RTG?

I assumed/thought that the Saturn probe mission can use solar all the way and use batteries on the probe itself. I would think that they would want to avoid putting an RTG into that mission because of cost.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Star One on 08/15/2017 06:37 PM
Agreed, although it does mean once the choice is made it'll be probably a further decade before the other ice giant can be visited.  This of course is more relevant to the ice giant thread.

Out of the current NF choices, which actually requires RTGs?  I assume the Saturn (and its moons) proposals, which are collectively 4, the possible Trojan mission, and I assume at least one of the comet missions?
It appears that only Dragonfly would need MMRTGs.

I wonder if that complexity of mission could count against it, even though it's the mission I'd most like to see happen.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Blackstar on 08/15/2017 06:53 PM
Agreed, although it does mean once the choice is made it'll be probably a further decade before the other ice giant can be visited.  This of course is more relevant to the ice giant thread.

Out of the current NF choices, which actually requires RTGs?  I assume the Saturn (and its moons) proposals, which are collectively 4, the possible Trojan mission, and I assume at least one of the comet missions?
It appears that only Dragonfly would need MMRTGs.

I wonder if that complexity of mission could count against it, even though it's the mission I'd most like to see happen.

Complexity counts against every cost-capped mission.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: mnauprsk on 08/15/2017 07:38 PM
What about planned Mars Sample Return sample caching rover? It is now decided whether it will use solar panel or RTG?
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: vjkane on 08/15/2017 07:46 PM
What about planned Mars Sample Return sample caching rover? It is now decided whether it will use solar panel or RTG?
The engineering concept images I've seen all show solar power.  The goal for that rover is speed with minimal instruments, perhaps only cameras, an arm to gather sample tubes, and a container for the tubes.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Blackstar on 08/15/2017 07:52 PM
What about planned Mars Sample Return sample caching rover? It is now decided whether it will use solar panel or RTG?
The engineering concept images I've seen all show solar power.  The goal for that rover is speed with minimal instruments, perhaps only cameras, an arm to gather sample tubes, and a container for the tubes.

Yeah. It's a medium-size vehicle at best, only solar. I do think that they are considering a bit more than "minimal instruments." But that's all in the trades. It doesn't need RTGs. And really, if you were going to dedicate plutonium to that mission, the best place to spend it is keeping the ascent vehicle warm, not powering the rover.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: AegeanBlue on 08/15/2017 08:27 PM
If the Saturn probe's carrier is RTG powered and since it will be on a flyby trajectory, it might be used as a probe to interstellar space, Voyager or New Horizons style. Then again adding instruments to it so that it functions as an interstellar probe will add to cost and complexity. If they just want a carrier, solar power is sufficient (hopefully) and losing power is a plus for a cost constrained probe
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: mnauprsk on 08/15/2017 08:41 PM
If the Saturn probe's carrier is RTG powered and since it will be on a flyby trajectory, it might be used as a probe to interstellar space, Voyager or New Horizons style. Then again adding instruments to it so that it functions as an interstellar probe will add to cost and complexity. If they just want a carrier, solar power is sufficient (hopefully) and losing power is a plus for a cost constrained probe
Maybe it could visit some TNO or TNOs on the way. But such mission would probably would be too expensive for New Frontiers.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: vjkane on 08/15/2017 09:16 PM
Agreed, although it does mean once the choice is made it'll be probably a further decade before the other ice giant can be visited.  This of course is more relevant to the ice giant thread.

Out of the current NF choices, which actually requires RTGs?  I assume the Saturn (and its moons) proposals, which are collectively 4, the possible Trojan mission, and I assume at least one of the comet missions?
It appears that only Dragonfly would need MMRTGs.

I wonder if that complexity of mission could count against it, even though it's the mission I'd most like to see happen.

Complexity counts against every cost-capped mission.

If you look at the missions in terms of complexity from an armchair observers point of view, I might rank them from simpler to more complex as:

ELF and Oceanus - many orbiters have been built, key issues are likely demonstrating longevity required

SPRITE - simply flyby craft with an atmospheric probe, of which many have been built

Comet sample returns - mother spacecraft likely simple (at least one is built on a commercial satellite bus), sampling mechanism is new and adds complexity (but so was OSIRIS-REx's sampling system, so not an obvious disqualifier), any refrigeration units (CONDOR).  Missions have to demonstrate longevity.

Moonrise.  Comm orbiter (simple), lander, ascent vehicle, entry capsule.  I suspect that none are hard in themselves, but each carries its own failure risk which increases overall risk

Venus missions.  Simple carrier/relay craft.  Have to build high pressure, high temperature pressure vehicle and have ports for instruments.  VISAGE would need a sampling mechanism that operates in the ambient environment and an airlock to bring the samples inside the craft.

Dragonfly.  I don't see the use of the MMRTG as an issue, although their are financial costs.  The bus looks like the Curiosity bus, so may be substantial reuse there.  The risks I see are demonstrating high reliability autonomous flight and landing.  I've done some reading, and the military especially have been working on this, so there's probably a lot of heritage technology.

For every potential complication I list above, the proposing teams will have thought of them in the first 5 minutes of discussion.  Their proposals will have focused on these and all the issues I would never think of in their designs and proposal text.  I suspect that NASA will have an embarrassing richness of selectable missions to chose from.

Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: vjkane on 08/15/2017 09:20 PM
If the Saturn probe's carrier is RTG powered and since it will be on a flyby trajectory, it might be used as a probe to interstellar space, Voyager or New Horizons style. Then again adding instruments to it so that it functions as an interstellar probe will add to cost and complexity. If they just want a carrier, solar power is sufficient (hopefully) and losing power is a plus for a cost constrained probe
Maybe it could visit some TNO or TNOs on the way. But such mission would probably would be too expensive for New Frontiers.
The carrier craft for both the SPRITE and European equivalent Hera missions would be solar powered.  By the way, with a mid 2020's launch, a Uranus flyby would be possible.  But not without RTGs.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: JH on 08/16/2017 03:17 AM
I'll add to what Blackstar said: It is possible for a proposal to be marked as having weaknesses because it overreaches. This can happen for a number of reasons, but a likely one for this round of proposals is differences between the AO and the Decadal on certain targets. It is possible that by attempting to cover both the AO and the Decadal, a proposal would be judged infeasible within a New Frontiers cost cap. Unfortunately, without closely reading a proposal it would be difficult to know if this has happened.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: vjkane on 08/16/2017 08:56 PM
I'll add to what Blackstar said: It is possible for a proposal to be marked as having weaknesses because it overreaches. This can happen for a number of reasons, but a likely one for this round of proposals is differences between the AO and the Decadal on certain targets. It is possible that by attempting to cover both the AO and the Decadal, a proposal would be judged infeasible within a New Frontiers cost cap. Unfortunately, without closely reading a proposal it would be difficult to know if this has happened.

After the first Discovery down-select I talked to one of the proposers whose mission was eliminated and asked him why. I cannot remember all of what he said, but he said that the reviewers criticized how much science the mission would actually accomplish. They apparently thought that the instruments he had selected and the amount of time they would observe the target, would not gather enough data to answer the questions. He also thought that the reviewers were wrong about that. But I found that rather surprising, because the mission was one of the more technically challenging ones and he said that they ranked high on technical feasibility. It was just another indication that the devil can lurk in the details.

We possibly can see an example of the focus on demonstrating that the instruments and mission design can meet the science goals for the Enceladus flyby proposals.  From an OPAG presentation to the mid-term Decadal Survey, we have:

OPAG steering committee thinks that an emphasis on habitability, prebiotic chemistry, and search for life is more appropriate for future Enceladus missions
•Key Question: Is robust life detection possible via New Frontiers, or is a larger mission needed?
–Wait for reviews of NF-4 Enceladus proposals

And then from the ELF presentation to OPAG:

When ‘in situ’, do as the mass spectrometers do

• In situ detection of biomarkers is key
– Remote sensing can support these measurements, but is no substitute
– Cassini Ion and Neutral Mass Spectrometer (INMS) and Cosmic Dust Analyzer
(CDA) demonstrated the power of mass spectrometry for in situ plume
science

• Limited sample size makes sample processing difficult
– Density of gas and grains in the plume is low (~5e-5 g collected on a 1 cm2
area for a 50 km flythrough)
– Simplicity over complexity (no GC or LC)

My take on this is that missions such as ELF can have simple spacecraft and mission operations, but that making critical measurements can be the tricky part.  If I remember right, the Discovery ELF proposal had additional instruments over the now current NF proposal.  The wording of the ELF slide suggests a laser focus on demonstrating that the instruments can make the critical measurements from the minuscule samples from each pass.  One trick that they will utilize (the Clipper mass spec will do the same) will be to collect the samples, keep them frozen on a plate (I believe it's a plate), and then conduct the measurements during the long periods between flybys.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: vjkane on 08/16/2017 11:23 PM
We possibly can see an example of the focus on demonstrating that the instruments and mission design can meet the science goals for the Enceladus flyby proposals.  From a mid-term Decadal Survey, we have:

OPAG steering committee thinks that an emphasis on habitability, prebiotic chemistry, and search for life is more appropriate for future Enceladus missions


Did the decadal survey midterm actually say this? That is what you imply.  Edited the initial post to clarify

Sorry for the imprecision.  It was a presentation from OPAG to the Decadal Survey midterm assessment.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Star One on 08/25/2017 07:22 PM
Short article about Dragonfly.

A quadrocopter could be used to explore Saturn's largest moon

https://www.engadget.com/2017/08/25/johns-hopkins-dragonfly-titan-drone/
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Kesarion on 08/26/2017 09:56 AM
Short article about Dragonfly.

A quadrocopter could be used to explore Saturn's largest moon

https://www.engadget.com/2017/08/25/johns-hopkins-dragonfly-titan-drone/

I'm actually impressed that this concept requires only one MMRTG, though I assume the data rate is going to be a few kb/s.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: vjkane on 08/26/2017 03:42 PM
Short article about Dragonfly.

A quadrocopter could be used to explore Saturn's largest moon

https://www.engadget.com/2017/08/25/johns-hopkins-dragonfly-titan-drone/

I'm actually impressed that this concept requires only one MMRTG, though I assume the data rate is going to be a few kb/s.
I suspect that the proposal has a major focus on showing that the limited bandwidth still allows the operation of the craft and the return of sufficient scientific data to meet the science goals.  I further suspect that this is a challenge made harder by the craft being on the far side of Titan for half of each 16 day Titan orbit. 

The Saturn system would benefit from a small Flagship mission that could include orbiter instruments for both Enceladus and Titan, one or more landers for Titan (I like Dragonfly), and a relay capability on the orbiter. 
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: redliox on 08/26/2017 04:01 PM
The Titan copter is supposed to include a gamma-ray spectrometer according to that article.  I thought that instrument was mainly for heavier elements.  How useful would that be on a (basically) planet that's dominated by carbon and ices of light material?
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Don2 on 09/04/2017 09:13 PM
On one level I love the Titan quadrocopter. It is a really interesting and creative idea and it would be really cool to see it fly. On the other hand I don't think that it is well suited for a cost capped New Frontiers slot. I think you would be doing real well to build the vehicle itself for $1.0 billion. When you add the extra stuff that you need to get the vehicle to the surface of Titan you are probably talking at least $1.5 billion. It could very easily cost more and there is a decent chance that it could not be made to work at all. Obviously, nothing like it has ever been built.

What might work would be a Flagship mission with a quadrocopter  and an orbiter for imaging and data relay support. The science objective would be to sample several of the major terrain types on the Titan surface.

The Oceanus mission is interesting, but if you are going to haul a mass spectrometer all the way to Saturn then why not do some Enceladus plume flybys before you go into orbit around Titan? It seems to me that it ought to be possible to meet some of the Enceladus plume objectives with this craft. The same goes for the ELF probe. Why not add on some Titan flybys to study the atmosphere when you are done with Enceladus?

The Enceladus plume samplers are a very clever and interesting idea which addresses very high priority science. If they are practical then they would be close to the top of my list for what I would like to see fly.

The SPRITE atmosphere probe is quite practical and provides data on noble gas abundances needed to understand the formation of Saturn . Perhaps one day a probe on the way to Uranus will drop an atmosphere probe into Saturn. Adding a Saturn atmosphere probe to a future ice giants mission might be a cheaper way to accomplish the objective.

Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: vjkane on 09/04/2017 11:14 PM
What might work would be a Flagship mission with a quadrocopter  and an orbiter for imaging and data relay support. The science objective would be to sample several of the major terrain types on the Titan surface.

The Oceanus mission is interesting, but if you are going to haul a mass spectrometer all the way to Saturn then why not do some Enceladus plume flybys before you go into orbit around Titan?
There's a mid-term Decadal Survey assessment in progress.  In addition to assessing how well the current Survey (covering 2013-2022) is being implemented, the committee is also identifying missions that make sense for NASA to study before the start of the next Decadal Survey.  One of those is a small flagship mission: “…substantial work has been done to mature the technologies required for a comprehensive exploration of the Saturn system. Accordingly, pieces of TSSM have been proposed to NASA’s Discovery program (e.g., Titan Mare Explorer, Journey to Enceladus and Titan, and Enceladus Life Finder) and ESA’s medium-class programs (Exploration of Enceladus and Titan). In addition, multiple Titan and Enceladus mission concepts are currently under consideration to be selected as the fourth New Frontier mission. In an effort to optimize the science value of outer solar system exploration in the next decade, the feasibility of lower-cost flagship missions that, for example, combine elements of proposed Discovery and New Frontiers concepts, are worthy of study. The co-location of three high-priority targets—Saturn, Titan, and Enceladus—in the Saturn system provides a potential opportunity to accomplish significant science for multiple targets using a common spacecraft.”

As for Oceanus, the PI for the mission told me that Enceladus flybys prior to Titan orbit insertion are possible under an extended mission plan, but those cannot be proposed in the initial evaluation phase.  What Oceanus would lack for Enceladus studies, compared to ELF, is a dust mass spectrometer to examine the solid grains in the plumes that represent salts and bits of the rocky core.  I suspect that adding a dust MS to Oceanus is just one instrument too many for the cost cap.

Given that Flagship missions in the recent past and near future run from $2.4B to $3-4B, perhaps a small Flagship mission might be $1.5B.  One could imagine that it might combine the Oceanus and ELF instruments and goals and perhaps add a simple Titan lander.  I suspect that doing what Don2 suggests -- Oceanus+ELF with a separate Dragonfly mission -- would be closer to the Curiosity/Mars 2020 price tag of ~$2.4B.  In that scheme, the orbiter could act as a communications relay, dramatically increasing the amount of data returned from the Dragonfly craft.  (And I should note that we don't have proof that these Saturn missions can be done on a New Frontiers budget.  Based on presentations from OPAG, the Discovery program budgets are too tight for outer planet missions.)
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: vjkane on 09/04/2017 11:31 PM
I'm not sure if that mission could rise to the level of a flagship in terms of science. It could certainly cost that much, but flagship missions are intended to address major fundamental science questions, and a bunch of them. However, that's a somewhat blurry line--as one scientist said to me years ago, the Europa orbiter proposal was really New Frontiers class science at a flagship class price.
If life is found, then that is automatically flagship level raised to the power of some high number.  The question whether the mission justifies flagship costs if life isn't found.  For Curiosity and Mars 2020, the answer is, I believe, yes because a large number of other priority science questions are addressed.  For Europa, I again believe the answer is yes if its found that Europa probably doesn't have a habitable environment because the craft will examine a large number of questions about icy moons with oceans in contact with rocky cores.  (The same argument could be made for Enceladus, but Cassini pretty much nailed the remote sensing studies and the next step is to extend the plume composition measurements with modern mass spectrometers.)

I'd argue that a mission that combines the goals of the Oceanus, ELF, and perhaps TiME missions would achieve flagship scale science.  I suspect that Blackstar would argue that such a mission isn't a small flagship missions but a full scale one.  He may be right.  However, there's been a lot of work done looking at how to reduce costs of missions to the Saturn system, so perhaps things have changed.  We'll learn more once the assessments of the Oceanus and ELF proposals are available.  We won't learn details, but we are likely to hear whether in general Saturn missions can fit within New Frontiers budgets.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Don2 on 09/05/2017 08:30 AM
@ Blackstar : You'd want to keep the quadrocopter instrumentaion simple, so maybe just a panoramic camera, a descent camera and a mass spectrometer. The descent camera would give maybe 0.3 m/pixel along the flight path. You could put a little heated tube on the landing skid to collect samples of the ice for the mass spec. You'd get imagery and composition of several different terrains, and hopefully would have enough data to figure out how they formed.

The science could answer questions about the existence of active volcanism, the composition of the dark organic dunes and the amount of liquid needed to carve the river channels. There is a lot of potential for unexpected discoveries. As you suggest, he science might not be quite flagship level. It depends on how interesting you think  Titan is likely to be.


@vjkane : What I'm proposing is a little more ambitious. It would combine SPRITE, TiME, Oceanus and ELF.

(Copied from another thread) The other New Frontiers ideas for Saturn also offer examples of resources that could be re-used. To relay data from an atmosphere probe you need a telecommunications relay. That costs maybe $600 million to build if it is restricted to low data rate. Atmosphere probe missions only last for a couple of hours, and after that they relay is available for another mission. A Titan lake lander could be a suitable candidate as long as it did not overlap with the atmosphere probe mission.

The relay spacecraft could also do other jobs. Mass spectrometers don't produce a lot of data and there are two proposals to use them at Saturn. One is to fly through the plumes of Enceladus. Between flybys the probe would have time for something else. Another proposal is to orbit a mass spectrometer around Titan to study the atmosphere. Perhaps, once the probe is done with Enceladus flybys it could go into orbit around Titan?

I think it may be possible for a single Flagship class probe to combine all those different jobs. An atmosphere probe would cost $300 million. A Titan lake lander is maybe $500 million. Add another $100 million for the mass spectrometer and tankage to fly a tour.  That comes to about $1.5 billion for a small Flagship.  (end copy)

I'm basing those numbers on the Saturn mission concept study done for the last decadal survey. That spacecraft was powered by 2 ASRGs and had a 1.6kb/s data link with earth.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Star One on 09/05/2017 04:26 PM
If life is found, then that is automatically flagship level raised to the power of some high number. 

That's not the way that missions get prioritized--the question it has to answer before the fact is if the science is sufficiently extensive and broad to justify a large expenditure.

So if life is found elsewhere in the Solar System that would not be a scientific priority. I am rather surprised to hear this.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Star One on 09/05/2017 09:09 PM
If life is found, then that is automatically flagship level raised to the power of some high number. 

That's not the way that missions get prioritized--the question it has to answer before the fact is if the science is sufficiently extensive and broad to justify a large expenditure.

So if life is found elsewhere in the Solar System that would not be a scientific priority. I am rather surprised to hear this.

I think you're misreading.

A mission is not a "flagship" based upon what it discovers. The designation is based upon its cost and science goals before it discovers anything. Time does not run backwards.

But was that what the OP that you were replying to was saying?
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Phil Stooke on 09/05/2017 09:11 PM
It's the next mission which is (probably) an automatic flagship.  Although there is also the concern that discovering life slows exploration as people struggle with how to study it without messing it up.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Star One on 09/05/2017 09:51 PM
It's the next mission which is (probably) an automatic flagship.  Although there is also the concern that discovering life slows exploration as people struggle with how to study it without messing it up.

From my limited understanding of astrobiology, it's misleading for us to even be discussing "finding life," because that's not really how the science works. The more accurate--and annoying--way to look at this is "finding some evidence that might be life, or is consistent with life, but will probably require decades of discussion and arguing ad infinitum, along with even more data gathering that will cost a lot of money and may not even settle the issue."

At a recent meeting of planetary scientists, somebody pointed out that there are still people arguing over the Viking findings, and it took over a decade to finally settle the Alan Hills meteorite argument in favor of it not being life.

That's utterly ridiculous and seems more like people keeping themselves in a job.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: whitelancer64 on 09/05/2017 09:56 PM
No, it's accurate enough.

I think it's nice to  be humbled by the realization that science collectively can't even agree what "life" is, let alone what chemical biosignatures would constitute an unambiguous detection of life.

It would not be an issue if we saw creatures moving around, respiring, etc. but that is unlikely.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Don2 on 09/06/2017 03:27 AM
I think we should consider what the best way to search for life on Titan is. Land based life on earth only evolved 500 million years ago. So for 90% of the earth's history, life was only found in the oceans. This suggests to me that the Titan lake lander is far more likely to find life that the quadrocopter.

If an alien civilization was to drop a small floating probe into the earth's ocean, what would be the best life detection strategy for them to use? A very simple one would be to immerse a plate in the water for a couple of months, and then remove it and photograph it. Anything in seawater tends to get coated in seaweed, barnacles and other forms of life. Biofouling is a huge problem for the shipping industry, which goes to great lengths to stop things growing on their ships and slowing them down. Spotting a piece of Titan lake weed that grew over time would settle the life debate quickly and definitively.

Another thing the aliens might try would be to filter suspended solids out of the seawater. If they used a sufficiently fine filter they would eventually get a layer of plankton. If examined under a microscope it might be possible to see things moving around under their own power. That is fairly definitive for life.  If they passed the solids from the filter through a mass spectrometer, they would find they are made of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen. The aliens would immediately recognize the possibility of highly complex chemistry, as there are a huge variety of organic compounds that can be made from those ingredients.  The thing that would interest them most would be that the isotope ratios of the carbon atoms would not match the isotope ratios of carbon in atmospheric CO2. That is a huge clue the the solids in the water are a lifeform.

So I think there are some simple life detection experiments which might work on a lake lander. However, the main priority should be to understand the chemistry, and collect enough data so more sophisticated life detection experiments could be flown on a future probe. You'd want basic fluid property measurements like temperature, viscosity, density, heat capacity and  thermal conductivity. This would help you to model the performance of the lander and design future landers. Surface tension, sound speed, refractive index and turbidity could also be important for instrument design, as well as suspended solids content, and issues of fouling or corrosion that affect the materials out of which landers are built.

On the chemistry side, knowing what elements are present is a big deal. If you are restricted to carbon and hydrogen, then you can only make a small selection of rather uninteresting compounds. Organic chemistry gets a lot richer when you add nitrogen, oxygen or chlorine to the mix. All the biological molecules I can think of contain oxygen. Many contain nitrogen, and some of the most important ones also contain phosphorous. Transition metal atoms can also be important.

Another issue is if the molecules are all simple and small, or if large, complicated organic molecules are present. A mass spectrometer would tell you that, as long as the molecules don't decompose when the sample is heated. A mass spectrometer also gives isotope ratios, and isotope ratio anomalies are a sign of biological processes.

A simple lake lander should answer the question of whether the possibility of life in the lakes is worth pursuing. It should collect enough engineering and chemical data to support the design of more complex life detection experiments. It should also try a few simple life detection efforts, like looking for biofouling and filtering lake fluids and then looking to see if anything interesting is caught in the filters.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Kesarion on 09/06/2017 06:49 AM
I think we should consider what the best way to search for life on Titan is.

The problem with this is that it's way to risky to make this the main focus of any spacecraft. We actually don't know whether life can emerge in the lakes of Titan. Yes, there are models which allow the existence of Acrylonitrile membranes but that is nowhere near enough to form even the simplest of organisms.

You need several other structures including a replicating mechanism, which are several times more complicated on a biochemical and morphological level than membranes. If any life might arose in hydrocarbon lakes it is beyond our imagination at this point in time. We are struggling to make the right suite of instruments to find earth-like life on Mars and Europa, constructing such a suite for Titan would be a colossal challenge (no pun intended).

I personally believe that a mobile platform like the Quadcopter is a much better precursor to an eventual flagship mission designed to find life. Unlike a mostly-stationary lake lander, the Dragonfly spacecraft can actually compare the chemistries from multiple sites. It may not directly sample the liquids, but it could eventually reach the northern lakes and analyze the "seashore". It could even sample the region near a cryovolcano (if any do indeed exist) which could also be gateways to possible life-bearing subsurface oceans. Being able to compare several different types of terrain (hydrocarbon dunes,dried river beds, deserts, volcanic deposits, lakeshores) gives the scientists the ability to have a broader picture of the moon and also put in a somewhat global context the chemistry of the lakes.


A lake lander would also be limited to the body of liquid it resides in. There may even be small differences between neighboring lakes. I'm hopeful that life can arose in such environments, but detecting it could prove to be a multigenerational endeavor, not to mention that there could be several abiotic processes taking place that we didn't even think of that might initially pass as a false positive.

While a Quadcopter cannot do all the science a balloon or a lander could do, the compromises seem worth it for this New Frontiers selection, if it could prove itself able to remain within the cost cap.


Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Star One on 09/06/2017 07:52 AM
It's the next mission which is (probably) an automatic flagship.  Although there is also the concern that discovering life slows exploration as people struggle with how to study it without messing it up.

From my limited understanding of astrobiology, it's misleading for us to even be discussing "finding life," because that's not really how the science works. The more accurate--and annoying--way to look at this is "finding some evidence that might be life, or is consistent with life, but will probably require decades of discussion and arguing ad infinitum, along with even more data gathering that will cost a lot of money and may not even settle the issue."

At a recent meeting of planetary scientists, somebody pointed out that there are still people arguing over the Viking findings, and it took over a decade to finally settle the Alan Hills meteorite argument in favor of it not being life.

That's utterly ridiculous and seems more like people keeping themselves in a job.

I suggest doing some research.

I have and I present criticism of how the results of things like the Viking results are handled. Where it took so long not for any good reason but purely because journals refused for twenty years to publish results that challenged the scientific orthodoxy.

Quote
Publishing a paper about life on Mars was very different than publishing more typical studies (over the years, Levin's research has included low-calorie sweeteners, pharmaceutical drugs, safer pesticides, and wastewater treatment processes, among others). It took nearly 20 years for Levin and Straat to publish a peer-reviewed paper on their interpretation of the Viking LR results.

"Since I first concluded that the LR had detected life (in 1997), major juried journals had refused our publications," Levin told Phys.org. "I and my co-Experimenter, Dr. Patricia Ann Straat, then published mainly in the astrobiology section of the SPIE Proceedings, after presenting the papers at the annual SPIE conventions. Though these were invited papers, they were largely ignored by the bulk of astrobiologists in their publications." These papers are available at gillevin.com.

"At a meeting of the Canadian Space Agency, I met Dr. Sherry Cady, the editor of Astrobiology. She invited me to submit a paper for peer review. I did and it was promptly bounced, not even sent out for review because of its life claim.

https://m.phys.org/news/2016-10-year-old-viking-life-mars.html
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Ben the Space Brit on 09/06/2017 11:05 AM
I always thought that life had some pretty broad basic criteria:

1) Processes environmental resources into energy to maintain its own processes;

2) Reproduces itself using environmental resources processed in some manner;

3) Can, within limits, maintain the above functions even if moved to a new but similar environment.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Star One on 09/06/2017 12:30 PM
I always thought that life had some pretty broad basic criteria:

1) Processes environmental resources into energy to maintain its own processes;

2) Reproduces itself using environmental resources processed in some manner;

3) Can, within limits, maintain the above functions even if moved to a new but similar environment.

Exactly. Turning even the definition into some overly complex debate seems counterproductive.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Star One on 09/06/2017 12:33 PM
It's the next mission which is (probably) an automatic flagship.  Although there is also the concern that discovering life slows exploration as people struggle with how to study it without messing it up.

From my limited understanding of astrobiology, it's misleading for us to even be discussing "finding life," because that's not really how the science works. The more accurate--and annoying--way to look at this is "finding some evidence that might be life, or is consistent with life, but will probably require decades of discussion and arguing ad infinitum, along with even more data gathering that will cost a lot of money and may not even settle the issue."

At a recent meeting of planetary scientists, somebody pointed out that there are still people arguing over the Viking findings, and it took over a decade to finally settle the Alan Hills meteorite argument in favor of it not being life.

That's utterly ridiculous and seems more like people keeping themselves in a job.

I suggest doing some research.

I have and I present criticism of how the results of things like the Viking results are handled. Where it took so long not for any good reason but purely because journals refused for twenty years to publish results that challenged the scientific orthodoxy.


You're missing the point.

I explained that scientists currently think that it is difficult to define "life" without a lot of data and a lot of discussion. (Look up the whole "animal, vegetable, or mineral?" debate.) That is why it is difficult to select a set of instruments to "find life" in a totally alien environment where we have no idea what form it might take.

You then replied that this was because scientists simply want to keep themselves in business and money (all those rich scientists), which is a pretty ridiculous conspiracy theory.

So I'll be more blunt: you don't understand the fundamental issues in biology and how they apply to astrobiology. This stuff is hard, and ambiguous, and the people who are working in that field struggle with those issues.

You're alleging some big conspiracies, based upon your ignorance of the field. That's silly. Don't be silly.

I noticed you failed to answer any of the points raised in that article.

It's the same way that I've seen scientists complain online that it's hard to get SETI related papers published, with some even suggesting their may be a bias against them.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Kesarion on 09/06/2017 01:34 PM
I noticed you failed to answer any of the points raised in that article.

Because it was irrelevant.

You seem to want to engage in conspiracy thinking: "Scientists are engaged in a conspiracy to not define life so that they can keep themselves employed" and "Scientists are engaged in a conspiracy to suppress the Viking evidence."

This is not serious thinking. This is silly thinking.

I don't think the criticism is that the scientists are engaged in a conspiracy to keep themselves employed. That is rather silly because it would assume that science stops the moment we discover alien life.

I believe the criticism is that some scientists are rather dismissive of the whole subject and unfairly refuse to even consider a biological presence as a reasonable explanation. The feeling among some observers of this process seems to be that there is a bias coming from the planetary scientists, not necessary as a financial conspiracy but rather as a generalized cynicism/pessimism.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Star One on 09/06/2017 01:47 PM
I noticed you failed to answer any of the points raised in that article.

Because it was irrelevant.

You seem to want to engage in conspiracy thinking: "Scientists are engaged in a conspiracy to not define life so that they can keep themselves employed" and "Scientists are engaged in a conspiracy to suppress the Viking evidence."

This is not serious thinking. This is silly thinking.

I don't think the criticism is that the scientists are engaged in a conspiracy to keep themselves employed. That is rather silly because it would assume that science stops the moment we discover alien life.

I believe the criticism is that some scientists are rather dismissive of the whole subject and unfairly refuse to even consider a biological presence as a reasonable explanation. The feeling among some observers of this process seems to be that there is a bias coming from the planetary scientists, not necessary as a financial conspiracy but rather as a generalized cynicism/pessimism.

Thank you for putting into words better than I am seemingly able to at the moment what I was trying to get at.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Welsh Dragon on 09/06/2017 03:42 PM
It's the next mission which is (probably) an automatic flagship.  Although there is also the concern that discovering life slows exploration as people struggle with how to study it without messing it up.

From my limited understanding of astrobiology, it's misleading for us to even be discussing "finding life," because that's not really how the science works. The more accurate--and annoying--way to look at this is "finding some evidence that might be life, or is consistent with life, but will probably require decades of discussion and arguing ad infinitum, along with even more data gathering that will cost a lot of money and may not even settle the issue."

At a recent meeting of planetary scientists, somebody pointed out that there are still people arguing over the Viking findings, and it took over a decade to finally settle the Alan Hills meteorite argument in favor of it not being life.

That's utterly ridiculous and seems more like people keeping themselves in a job.
Others have already explained this to you, but as a professional scientist (neuroscience) I have to say that your statement is not only insulting to actual scientists, it also shows a profound lack of understanding of how science works.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Star One on 09/06/2017 04:07 PM
It's the next mission which is (probably) an automatic flagship.  Although there is also the concern that discovering life slows exploration as people struggle with how to study it without messing it up.

From my limited understanding of astrobiology, it's misleading for us to even be discussing "finding life," because that's not really how the science works. The more accurate--and annoying--way to look at this is "finding some evidence that might be life, or is consistent with life, but will probably require decades of discussion and arguing ad infinitum, along with even more data gathering that will cost a lot of money and may not even settle the issue."

At a recent meeting of planetary scientists, somebody pointed out that there are still people arguing over the Viking findings, and it took over a decade to finally settle the Alan Hills meteorite argument in favor of it not being life.

That's utterly ridiculous and seems more like people keeping themselves in a job.
Others have already explained this to you, but as a professional scientist (neuroscience) I have to say that your statement is not only insulting to actual scientists, it also shows a profound lack of understanding of how science works.

You may not like that statement but I can tell you it's a pretty common opinion online and also from people I've encountered over the years. It's also from the people that actually pay for many scientists through their taxes. Ignore that block of opinion through being dismissive, well you've seen where that's got us politically in the US & UK. Rather than griping about it maybe you ought to be asking yourself why that belief exists, often because science has failed in its public outreach remit.

Yes my response was flip but it was in response to the kind of attitude that partly causes this problem in the first place. The kind of attitude that has contributed to where we are today online and politically.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: whitelancer64 on 09/06/2017 04:34 PM
It's a common opinion because most people don't understand the complexities of the issue. Ask a biologist, or better yet, an astrobiologist, to explain some of the difficulties to you.

In short, the plain and simple fact of the matter is that we do not have a set of chemical biomarkers that we can point to and say, "when we see these, we know there is life."

So when people say "why not put a life detection instrument on the next rover?" the answer to that question is that a "life detection instrument" does not exist.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Welsh Dragon on 09/06/2017 04:50 PM
<snip>
Others have already explained this to you, but as a professional scientist (neuroscience) I have to say that your statement is not only insulting to actual scientists, it also shows a profound lack of understanding of how science works.

You may not like that statement but I can tell you it's a pretty common opinion online and also from people I've encountered over the years. It's also from the people that actually pay for many scientists through their taxes. Ignore that block of opinion through being dismissive, well you've seen where that's got us politically in the US & UK. Rather than griping about it maybe you ought to be asking yourself why that belief exists, often because science has failed in its public outreach remit.

Yes my response was flip but it was in response to the kind of attitude that partly causes this problem in the first place. The kind of attitude that has contributed to where we are today online and politically.
You're still not getting it. It's not an attitude. It's the scientific process. I won't expect a non-scientist to understand this, but they should then not pretend to be able to criticise it. Opinions can and should be ignored when they have no basis in reality. Science does not fail it it's public outreach. I do plenty myself. People are just not interested. Which is fine, but then shut up.

We are where we are exactly because people don't listen to experts. Not our fault. We try, but if the population isn't willing to listen, they suffer the consequences.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Star One on 09/06/2017 04:58 PM
<snip>
Others have already explained this to you, but as a professional scientist (neuroscience) I have to say that your statement is not only insulting to actual scientists, it also shows a profound lack of understanding of how science works.

You may not like that statement but I can tell you it's a pretty common opinion online and also from people I've encountered over the years. It's also from the people that actually pay for many scientists through their taxes. Ignore that block of opinion through being dismissive, well you've seen where that's got us politically in the US & UK. Rather than griping about it maybe you ought to be asking yourself why that belief exists, often because science has failed in its public outreach remit.

Yes my response was flip but it was in response to the kind of attitude that partly causes this problem in the first place. The kind of attitude that has contributed to where we are today online and politically.
You're still not getting it. It's not an attitude. It's the scientific process. I won't expect a non-scientist to understand this, but they should then not pretend to be able to criticise it. Opinions can and should be ignored when they have no basis in reality. Science does not fail it it's public outreach. I do plenty myself. People are just not interested. Which is fine, but then shut up.

We are where we are exactly because people don't listen to experts. Not our fault. We try, but if the population isn't willing to listen, they suffer the consequences.
Yes just wash your hands of the issue, that kind of attitude is why we have the leaders we have. I am almost tempted to say we deserve these people if even the people who could do something about it back off when things get hard. In fact I would say you sound like someone who is part of the problem rather than being part of the solution.

I had an old Geography teacher and one of the reasons he was so good at his job was he would never back off trying to educate and improve any person no matter how disengaged they were.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Welsh Dragon on 09/06/2017 05:00 PM
Sigh, you're still not understanding. If people are unwilling to listen, you can talk at them as much as you want, they're not going to listen. What more can we do? Strap them in a chair and give them a mandatory science degree? What is your actual proposal to improve the situation then?
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Star One on 09/06/2017 05:04 PM
Sigh, you're still not understanding. If people are unwilling to listen, you can talk at them as much as you want, they're not going to listen. What more can we do? Strap them in a chair and give them a mandatory science degree? What is your actual proposal to improve the situation then?
I saw a scientist say online that if people hold silly beliefs then it was because they needed to try harder next time to reach these people. Do you not understand that you are in a virtual war with those who would seek to spread ignorance?
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: whitelancer64 on 09/06/2017 05:06 PM
Sigh, you're still not understanding. If people are unwilling to listen, you can talk at them as much as you want, they're not going to listen. What more can we do? Strap them in a chair and give them a mandatory science degree? What is your actual proposal to improve the situation then?
I saw a scientist say online that if people hold silly beliefs then it was because they needed to try harder next time to reach these people. Do you not understand that you are in a virtual war with those who would seek to spread ignorance?

Thinking that "life" is a simple thing and that scientists struggling with the attendant issues is "ridiculous" is the position of ignorance.

Here's an article on NASA's website, titled "Life's Working Definition: Does It Work?" that has a Q & A with a biologist who has published a paper saying that it's pointless to try to pursue a definition for "life" when we don't yet have a "theory of the nature of living systems."

https://www.nasa.gov/vision/universe/starsgalaxies/life's_working_definition.html
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Lar on 09/06/2017 06:35 PM
How science works? Who is a scientist and who isn't?  Off topic.
Casting aspersions on each other? Off topic AND not nice.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Star One on 09/06/2017 08:14 PM
Quote
Jeff Foust @jeff_foust
NASA’s Curt Niebur: on track to select “three-ish” New Frontiers proposals for Phase A studies by Christmas; final selection in May 2019.

https://mobile.twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/905458467288305668
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Don2 on 09/06/2017 08:32 PM
Let's move on and discuss some of the other proposals. One proposal that makes a lot of sense from a program point of view is the Lunar South Pole Sample Return. Returning a sample from Mars is different in many ways from returning a lunar sample, but there are enough similarities to see the lunar mission as a very useful training exercise for Mars sample return. Also, the manned program seems to be moving back to a lunar focus so retrieving a lunar polar sample would help to support that. The lunar poles are often discussed as locations for a manned base because temperatures are more moderate and sun light is near continuous in a few places. Also, water might be available under the ground. The main goal of the mission is to produce a date for the Late Heavy Bombardment, but the sample might also reveal something about the availability of water near the lunar poles.

The comet sample return proposals make a lot less sense from a program point of view. We already have OSIRIS-REX and Hayabusa-2 on their way to primitive asteroid targets. It seems to me that we should wait and see if the sample return collection strategies on those two missions prove to be successful. There have been two attempts so far to sample low gravity bodies, neither of which have been completely successful. Hayabusa-1 only returned with a few grains of sample, and Rosetta's lander didn't last long enough to drill below the surface. Also, it makes sense to wait until those samples are returned and studied before looking for more. The science community may decide that they want something different once they have had a chance to study those samples.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: redliox on 09/07/2017 05:49 PM
I do consider sampling the Moon a great option for a variety of reasons.  In this case there are 2 specific reasons I'd endorse it:

1) Sampling possibly the most unique region of the Moon (polar ice, mantle material, unusual mare)
2) Ability to analyze with technology 4 decades more advanced than what either Soviet or American scientists had with a fresh sample (many older samples apparently are literally losing their freshness

I hope both this and the Venus missions make it to the semi-final round.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Star One on 09/07/2017 06:48 PM
I don't want to rehash my views on this again needless to say I will be rooting for Dragonfly or Oceanus, exploring a truly unique environment.

I suspect of the two Oceanus has a better chance of getting through to the next round due to its hardware heritage and more manageable power & mission requirements.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: vjkane on 09/08/2017 03:29 AM
It's the next mission which is (probably) an automatic flagship.  Although there is also the concern that discovering life slows exploration as people struggle with how to study it without messing it up.

From my limited understanding of astrobiology, it's misleading for us to even be discussing "finding life," because that's not really how the science works. The more accurate--and annoying--way to look at this is "finding some evidence that might be life, or is consistent with life, but will probably require decades of discussion and arguing ad infinitum, along with even more data gathering that will cost a lot of money and may not even settle the issue."

At a recent meeting of planetary scientists, somebody pointed out that there are still people arguing over the Viking findings, and it took over a decade to finally settle the Alan Hills meteorite argument in favor of it not being life.

Blackstar, you are quite correct that time doesn't run backwards.  Missions that have the potential to find life or last least explore its origins tend to rank higher in priority than those that don't.  The probability of finding life on Mars has always been low.  Hostile environment now, and finding fossils and identifying them as such, as you point out, is very hard.  Yet NASA has spent billions exploring the possibility and building the case for habitability.  If we *knew* that Mars never hosted life and that Europa doesn't, then I think that our spending priorities would be quite different.  Because we are biophiles, the possibility of life raises the priority of certain targets. 
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Don2 on 09/08/2017 06:50 AM
@redliox...I think that Moonrise and ELF are among my favorites. The soils at the lunar south pole never get as warm as the ones near the equator which means that area is likely to be richer in volatiles than any of the Apollo samples. Moonrise will dig a little below the surface and the soil might get wetter as you go deeper. A polar soil sample would be useful for people thinking about the possibility of a manned polar base. In fact there is a case for the manned program to fund the mission if they are at all serious about returning to the moon.

If there is a way to make the lander survive the sample return rocket departure, then you could add a burrowing mole similar to the one on Insight to look for water in the subsurface. A mass spectrometer could monitor the atmosphere and look for evidence of a lunar water cycle.

@vjkane...Mars is quite easy to get to and has abundant 3 billion year old rocks which record the early evolution of a terrestrial planet.  I think it would get a fair bit of attention even if it was known to be lifeless, although not as much as it does.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Don2 on 09/08/2017 07:01 AM
As far as Dragonfly goes, I think the level of complexity looks more like MSL than any $1 billion mission. New Horizons was RTG powered, and that bought a very simple spacecraft for $800 million or so. Dragonfly will cost a lot more than that or Juno or OSIRUS-REX. MSL did have a brief powered flight when it was being lowered from the skycrane. Dragonfly will weight a lot less, but it needs autonomous navigation capabilities that even MSL did not have and it operates in a much colder environment which will cause materials and component challenges. I think I remember something about MSL having trouble because the development of a low temperature electric motor failed. I don't think I can believe in anything less than $1.5 billion for Dragonfly cost, and $2.5 billion seems like a more likely number.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Star One on 09/08/2017 08:45 AM
As far as Dragonfly goes, I think the level of complexity looks more like MSL than any $1 billion mission. New Horizons was RTG powered, and that bought a very simple spacecraft for $800 million or so. Dragonfly will cost a lot more than that or Juno or OSIRUS-REX. MSL did have a brief powered flight when it was being lowered from the skycrane. Dragonfly will weight a lot less, but it needs autonomous navigation capabilities that even MSL did not have and it operates in a much colder environment which will cause materials and component challenges. I think I remember something about MSL having trouble because the development of a low temperature electric motor failed. I don't think I can believe in anything less than $1.5 billion for Dragonfly cost, and $2.5 billion seems like a more likely number.

What about all the advancement in autonomous systems, even with the requirements for radiation hardening components, which will be less onerous at Saturn,  or the cold environment this technology has advanced considerably. In general you seem to be over costing this mission for no real reasons that I can see.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Don2 on 09/09/2017 05:37 PM
@Star One... There are a lot of features of this mission that make me worry about costs. RTG powered missions are normally very expensive and rarely come in at less than $1billion. Low temperature operation causes trouble because some materials become brittle. Infra-red telescopes cast far more per unit of area than visible light ones because of this. While we are on the subject of embrittlement, hydrogen can also cause problems and the Titan atmosphere has it.

Flying vehicles are normally far more expensive than wheeled ones. Think of the cost difference between a car and a helicopter. While there is a lot of talk about advances in autonomous systems, why are they not being used to guide the next Mars rover to a pinpoint landing? Unlike Titan, we have high resolution imagery of Mars which could be used to train an autonomous system. Human pilots have always been able to find a runway using landmarks, which implies navigating with 10m precision. I'm not aware of an autonomous system that can reliably manage that feat.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Star One on 09/09/2017 06:21 PM
@Star One... There are a lot of features of this mission that make me worry about costs. RTG powered missions are normally very expensive and rarely come in at less than $1billion. Low temperature operation causes trouble because some materials become brittle. Infra-red telescopes cast far more per unit of area than visible light ones because of this. While we are on the subject of embrittlement, hydrogen can also cause problems and the Titan atmosphere has it.

Flying vehicles are normally far more expensive than wheeled ones. Think of the cost difference between a car and a helicopter. While there is a lot of talk about advances in autonomous systems, why are they not being used to guide the next Mars rover to a pinpoint landing? Unlike Titan, we have high resolution imagery of Mars which could be used to train an autonomous system. Human pilots have always been able to find a runway using landmarks, which implies navigating with 10m precision. I'm not aware of an autonomous system that can reliably manage that feat.

Autonomous systems are you forgetting about the ExoMars rover?
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: vjkane on 09/09/2017 10:12 PM
When I first read about Dragonfly I was concerned about the autonomous flight and landing. I did some web searches and was impressed with how mature the technology has become. I also suspect that there's a lot more technology available on the military side that's classified but available to the team.

My guess is that the cost of integrating and especially thoroughly testing everything will prove too much for a new Frontiers budget (but I want to be proved wrong!).  If that's the case I hope that NASA will fund further technology development and the next Decadal will prioritize the mission.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Star One on 09/13/2017 07:15 PM
Quote
Jeff Foust @jeff_foust
NASA’s Jim Green: we’re in good stead for the next several decades regarding plutonium for RTG-powered future missions; won’t be limiting.
6:35 pm · 13 Sep 2017

https://mobile.twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/908021412362891265

Quote
Jeff Foust @jeff_foust
Green appeared to confirm that there were missions to Enceladus and/or Titan proposed in latest New Frontiers round (not surprising).
6:46 pm · 13 Sep 2017

https://mobile.twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/908024205123432461
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: redliox on 09/14/2017 05:04 AM
Quote
Jeff Foust @jeff_foust
Green appeared to confirm that there were missions to Enceladus and/or Titan proposed in latest New Frontiers round (not surprising).
6:46 pm · 13 Sep 2017

https://mobile.twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/908024205123432461

If that's correct, we could assume 2 out of the "3-ish" missions are Saturn themed with 1 non-Saturnian running mate.  I hope Venus fared better than in Discovery.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: vjkane on 09/14/2017 06:26 AM
Quote
Jeff Foust @jeff_foust
Green appeared to confirm that there were missions to Enceladus and/or Titan proposed in latest New Frontiers round (not surprising).
6:46 pm · 13 Sep 2017

https://mobile.twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/908024205123432461
I believe that he was only talking about what in the 12 submitted

If that's correct, we could assume 2 out of the "3-ish" missions are Saturn themed with 1 non-Saturnian running mate.  I hope Venus fared better than in Discovery.
I believe that Green was talking only about what is in the 12 submitted proposals.  I don't believe he would give any hint about what the possible down selects will be.  And considering that the announcement of the down selects are expected as a Christmas present, he may not know what those will be yet.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Blackstar on 09/14/2017 12:22 PM

I believe that Green was talking only about what is in the 12 submitted proposals.  I don't believe he would give any hint about what the possible down selects will be.  And considering that the announcement of the down selects are expected as a Christmas present, he may not know what those will be yet.

He doesn't know what they are because the decision has not been made yet. Also, it's not his decision. The review board produces its recommendations. That is presented to Green and to the AA for SMD. Green then provides his own input to the AA based upon a number of factors, including the available budgets and programmatic balance. The AA is the selecting official and makes the final decision.

I have talked to a previous AA for science about the Discovery selection process. He said that they have less maneuvering room than you would think--the review board provides a recommendation and a detailed explanation of their recommendation, and it's hard to go against that. For instance, if the review board says that the only viable missions are to go to planet Q and you really would like to select the planet P mission, it's not really possible to select the planet P mission.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: vjkane on 09/25/2017 06:46 PM
When I did my blog post on the New Frontiers proposals, there was one mystery proposal.  Several people told me this was a late entry JPL Venus proposal, the Venus Origins eXplorer (VOX).

This proposal takes a very different approach than either of the other two proposals which would use one or two entry probe-lander(s).

VOX combines the ideas of the not selected (but found selectable) Discovery VERITAS orbiter along with what appears to be the CUPID high atmosphere probe.  In submitting this proposal, JPL (which is also backing the VICI entry probe-proposal), is betting that a very different approach will be found acceptable.  The entry probe-lander approach would provide much richer atmospheric measurements and richer surface composition measurements at an area on Venus that might be a couple of square meters in size.  VOX would provide the key noble gas measurements along with less rich but global composition measurements.  VOX would also provide high resolution radar mapping and higher resolution gravity measurements than previous missions did.

The VOX team is hoping to pull a Juno.  The original Decadal Survey requirement for the Jovian mission was an orbiter and multiple entry probes.  The Juno mission accomplishes the goals of the entry probes via remote sensing instruments.  The VOX team is proposing that for the solid planet measurements and proposing a much simpler atmospheric probe.  Designing an entry probe-lander for Venus does have its challenges, although the Discovery DAVINCI entry probe from the same PI as for the VICI probe-lander was judged suitable for selection.

As a geomorphology kind of guy, I do like the VOX proposal.

Abstract from the upcoming DPS conference follows.


TITLE: New Frontiers Science at Venus from Orbit plus Atmospheric Gas Sampling
ABSTRACT BODY:
Abstract (2,250 Maximum Characters):
Venus remains the most Earth-like body in terms of size, composition, surface age, and insulation. Venus Origins Explorer (VOX) determines how Earth’s twin diverged, and enables breakthroughs in our understanding of rocky planet evolution and habitability. At the time of the Decadal Survey the ability to map mineralogy from orbit (Helbert et al.) and present-day radar techniques to detect active deformation were not fully appreciated. VOX leverages these methods and in-situ noble gases to answer New Frontiers science objectives:

1. Atmospheric physics/chemistry: noble gases and isotopes to constrain atmospheric sources, escape processes, and integrated volcanic outgassing; global search for current volcanically outgassed water.
2. Past hydrological cycles: global tessera composition to determine the role of volatiles in crustal formation.
3. Crustal physics/chemistry: global crustal mineralogy/chemistry, tectonic processes, heat flow, resolve the catastrophic vs. equilibrium resurfacing debate, active geologic processes and possible crustal recycling.
4. Crustal weathering: surface-atmosphere weathering reactions from redox state and the chemical equilibrium of the near-surface atmosphere.
5. Atmospheric properties/winds: map cloud particle modes and their temporal variations, and track cloud-level winds in the polar vortices.
6. Surface-atmosphere interactions: chemical reactions from mineralogy; weathering state between new, recent and older flows; possible volcanically outgassed water.

VOX’s Atmosphere Sampling Vehicle (ASV) dips into and samples the well-mixed atmosphere, using Venus Original Constituents Experiment (VOCE) to measure noble gases. VOX’s orbiter carries the Venus Emissivity Mapper (VEM) and the Venus Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (VISAR), and maps the gravity field using Ka-band tracking.

VOX is the logical next mission to Venus because it delivers: 1) top priority atmosphere, surface, and interior science; 2) key global data for comparative planetology; 3) high-resolution topography, composition, and imaging to optimize future landers; 4) opportunities for revolutionary discoveries with a 3-year long mission, proven implementation and 44 Tb of data.
CURRENT * CATEGORY: Future Missions, Instruments, and Facilities (Poster Only)
CURRENT : None
AUTHORS (FIRST NAME, LAST NAME): Suzanne Smrekar1, Melinda Dyar2, Scott Hensley1, Joern Helbert3
INSTITUTIONS (ALL): 1. Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA, United States.
2. Mount Holyoke College, Amherst, MA, United States.
3. German Space Agency, Berlin, Germany.
Contributing Teams: VOX Science and Engineering Teams
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: redliox on 09/26/2017 01:37 AM
When I did my blog post on the New Frontiers proposals, there was one mystery proposal.  Several people told me this was a late entry JPL Venus proposal, the Venus Origins eXplorer (VOX).

This proposal takes a very different approach than either of the other two proposals which would use one or two entry probe-lander(s).

VOX combines the ideas of the not selected (but found selectable) Discovery VERITAS orbiter along with what appears to be the CUPID high atmosphere probe.  In submitting this proposal, JPL (which is also backing the VICI entry probe-proposal), is betting that a very different approach will be found acceptable.  The entry probe-lander approach would provide much richer atmospheric measurements and richer surface composition measurements at an area on Venus that might be a couple of square meters in size.  VOX would provide the key noble gas measurements along with less rich but global composition measurements.  VOX would also provide high resolution radar mapping and higher resolution gravity measurements than previous missions did.

The VOX team is hoping to pull a Juno.  The original Decadal Survey requirement for the Jovian mission was an orbiter and multiple entry probes.  The Juno mission accomplishes the goals of the entry probes via remote sensing instruments.  The VOX team is proposing that for the solid planet measurements and proposing a much simpler atmospheric probe.  Designing an entry probe-lander for Venus does have its challenges, although the Discovery DAVINCI entry probe from the same PI as for the VICI probe-lander was judged suitable for selection.

As a geomorphology kind of guy, I do like the VOX proposal.

So this would be a combination orbiter/entry probe-lander?  I can understand the functions of an orbiter and atmospheric probe, but how would it obtain surface measurements...and more importantly by 'surface' are they implying gas or soil sampling?  I understand Huygens did some surface science on Titan, mainly in the form of physical properties, otherwise its priority was atmospheric and camera imaging.  Although I wouldn't think this particular mission would be as well-funded as Huygens, but it occurs to me that Huygens got some grand science about Titan in a time frame not unlike what a Venus probe might have: 2 hours.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: vjkane on 09/26/2017 05:25 AM
So this would be a combination orbiter/entry probe-lander?  I can understand the functions of an orbiter and atmospheric probe, but how would it obtain surface measurements...and more importantly by 'surface' are they implying gas or soil sampling?  I understand Huygens did some surface science on Titan, mainly in the form of physical properties, otherwise its priority was atmospheric and camera imaging.  Although I wouldn't think this particular mission would be as well-funded as Huygens, but it occurs to me that Huygens got some grand science about Titan in a time frame not unlike what a Venus probe might have: 2 hours.
More to come in a blog post I'm writing for publication probably this weekend.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: redliox on 09/26/2017 05:38 AM
So this would be a combination orbiter/entry probe-lander?  I can understand the functions of an orbiter and atmospheric probe, but how would it obtain surface measurements...and more importantly by 'surface' are they implying gas or soil sampling?  I understand Huygens did some surface science on Titan, mainly in the form of physical properties, otherwise its priority was atmospheric and camera imaging.  Although I wouldn't think this particular mission would be as well-funded as Huygens, but it occurs to me that Huygens got some grand science about Titan in a time frame not unlike what a Venus probe might have: 2 hours.
More to come in a blog post I'm writing for publication probably this weekend.

I'll be excited to see it!  :D
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: vjkane on 10/01/2017 05:47 PM
Just published my blog post on the New Frontiers Venus Origins eXplorer proposal

http://futureplanets.blogspot.com/2017/10/venus-origins-explorer-new-frontiers.html (http://futureplanets.blogspot.com/2017/10/venus-origins-explorer-new-frontiers.html)
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Star One on 10/01/2017 06:24 PM
Just published my blog post on the New Frontiers Venus Origins eXplorer proposal

http://futureplanets.blogspot.com/2017/10/venus-origins-explorer-new-frontiers.html (http://futureplanets.blogspot.com/2017/10/venus-origins-explorer-new-frontiers.html)

The only justification for NASA to go back to Venus would be if it was a mission carrying something truly revolutionary like a long duration lander/rover as we’ve recently seen proposed in concept. I’d rather the time and finances were put into developing something like this which could really help answer the numerous outstanding questions about Venus in a through manner with actual wheels on the ground. Sometimes it’s better to spend the money and expend the time to build a truly complete mission I’d have thought.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: hop on 10/01/2017 07:44 PM
The only justification for NASA to go back to Venus would be if it was a mission carrying something truly revolutionary like a long duration lander/rover as we’ve recently seen proposed in concept.
That's not how NASA selects missions. The criteria for a Venus mission in this New Frontiers call are spelled out in the AO (https://nspires.nasaprs.com/external/solicitations/summary.do?method=init&solId={F65A5657-0E72-362E-2D4C-DE87A16A82B7}&path=open):
Quote
The Venus In Situ Explorer mission theme is focused on examining the physics and chemistry of Venus’s atmosphere and crust by characterizing variables that cannot be measured from orbit, including the detailed composition of the lower atmosphere, and the elemental and mineralogical composition of surface materials. The science objectives (listed without priority) of this mission theme are:
• Understand the physics and chemistry of Venus’s atmosphere through measurement of its composition, especially the abundances of sulfur, trace gases, light stable isotopes, and noble-gas isotopes;
• Constrain the coupling of thermochemical, photochemical, and dynamical processes in Venus’s atmosphere and between the surface and atmosphere to understand radiative balance, climate, dynamics, and chemical cycles;
• Understand the physics and chemistry of Venus’s crust;
• Understand the properties of Venus’s atmosphere down to the surface and improve understanding of Venus’s zonal cloud-level winds;
• Understand the weathering environment of the crust of Venus in the context of the dynamics of the atmosphere of Venus and the composition and texture of its surface materials; and
• Search for evidence of past hydrological cycles, oceans, and life and constraints on the evolution of Venus’s atmosphere.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Star One on 10/01/2017 07:46 PM
The only justification for NASA to go back to Venus would be if it was a mission carrying something truly revolutionary like a long duration lander/rover as we’ve recently seen proposed in concept.
That's not how NASA selects missions. The criteria for a Venus mission in this New Frontiers call are spelled out in the AO (https://nspires.nasaprs.com/external/solicitations/summary.do?method=init&solId={F65A5657-0E72-362E-2D4C-DE87A16A82B7}&path=open):
Quote
The Venus In Situ Explorer mission theme is focused on examining the physics and chemistry of Venus’s atmosphere and crust by characterizing variables that cannot be measured from orbit, including the detailed composition of the lower atmosphere, and the elemental and mineralogical composition of surface materials. The science objectives (listed without priority) of this mission theme are:
• Understand the physics and chemistry of Venus’s atmosphere through measurement of its composition, especially the abundances of sulfur, trace gases, light stable isotopes, and noble-gas isotopes;
• Constrain the coupling of thermochemical, photochemical, and dynamical processes in Venus’s atmosphere and between the surface and atmosphere to understand radiative balance, climate, dynamics, and chemical cycles;
• Understand the physics and chemistry of Venus’s crust;
• Understand the properties of Venus’s atmosphere down to the surface and improve understanding of Venus’s zonal cloud-level winds;
• Understand the weathering environment of the crust of Venus in the context of the dynamics of the atmosphere of Venus and the composition and texture of its surface materials; and
• Search for evidence of past hydrological cycles, oceans, and life and constraints on the evolution of Venus’s atmosphere.

Why don’t you give me your opinion rather than telling me how NASA selects missions?
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: vjkane on 10/01/2017 08:28 PM
I'll respectfully disagree.  The remote sensing resolutions for Venus are less than mars following Viking.  No modern atmospheric composition instruments have flown to Venus.  We have no maps -- except crude VERTIS approximations for a part of the surface -- of composition. 

Imagine if we had tried to go directly from Viking to Curiosity.  We wouldn't have known where to land nor how to put the results into their local regional or global context.

Any capable Venusian rover will in terms of cost and difficulty put a Europa lander to shame I suspect.  In the meantime the planetary science community has identified $500 m to $1 b missions that answer high priority questions.

Look forward to your counter arguments
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Star One on 10/01/2017 09:02 PM
I'll respectfully disagree.  The remote sensing resolutions for Venus are less than mars following Viking.  No modern atmospheric composition instruments have flown to Venus.  We have no maps -- except crude VERTIS approximations for a part of the surface -- of composition. 

Imagine if we had tried to go directly from Viking to Curiosity.  We wouldn't have known where to land nor how to put the results into their local regional or global context.

Any capable Venusian rover will in terms of cost and difficulty put a Europa lander to shame I suspect.  In the meantime the planetary science community has identified $500 m to $1 b missions that answer high priority questions.

Look forward to your counter arguments

That if you’re going to construct a mission to Venus to answer as many questions as possible, you spend the money and take the time to go all in, if that makes it a flagship mission then so be it. Especially when the most recent missions have all been orbital radar mappers and other countries have plans for further such missions.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: vjkane on 10/01/2017 10:17 PM
What other countries have plans -- not concepts or proposals for open competitions-- for Venus radar missions?
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: hop on 10/02/2017 04:22 AM
Why don’t you give me your opinion rather than telling me how NASA selects missions?
Because this thread is about New Frontiers 4, which will be selected based on the criteria set out in the AO, not the stuff you described as the "only justification for NASA to go back to Venus"

My opinion is that NASA is pretty good at selecting missions, and anything that makes the final cut for NF4 will almost certainly be a good mission. I'm not qualified to judge how well VOX would meet the requirements, but the observations they propose would certainly add a lot to our knowledge of Venus.
Especially when the most recent missions have all been orbital radar mappers and other countries have plans for further such missions.
The last three Venus orbiter missions were Akatsuki, Venus Express and Magellan. Of those, only Magellan had radar, and being launched in 1989 it's hardly recent.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: redliox on 10/02/2017 04:45 AM
So the Cupid's Arrow concept, a version of VOX would be flying, is basically a nanosat with a heatshield that grazes the atmosphere of Venus deeply enough to sample more than just the ionosphere?  So kind of like that sample return idea for Mars, except in nanosat form.  Is that right?
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Star One on 10/02/2017 08:25 AM
Why don’t you give me your opinion rather than telling me how NASA selects missions?
Because this thread is about New Frontiers 4, which will be selected based on the criteria set out in the AO, not the stuff you described as the "only justification for NASA to go back to Venus"

My opinion is that NASA is pretty good at selecting missions, and anything that makes the final cut for NF4 will almost certainly be a good mission. I'm not qualified to judge how well VOX would meet the requirements, but the observations they propose would certainly add a lot to our knowledge of Venus.
Especially when the most recent missions have all been orbital radar mappers and other countries have plans for further such missions.
The last three Venus orbiter missions were Akatsuki, Venus Express and Magellan. Of those, only Magellan had radar, and being launched in 1989 it's hardly recent.

Planetary exploitation usually follows the route of flyby, orbiter and then lander. Mars has a veritable fleet of orbiters and rovers. I just would like to see Venus follow the same route as all the Venusian landers we’ve had so far have been frustratingly short lived and I don’t see what’s being offered in New Frontiers 4 being that much different other than having better instrumentation. They still aren’t going to offer you any more than a snapshot. The recent concept of a long lived Venusian rover is what I’ve been waiting to see for years and hope that the time and money be used to develop that rather than these other kind of missions. After all are you going to tell me that there aren’t a whole host of scientific questions that can only be answered by this kind of long lived surface mission. To me orbital missions are never the same as a surface presence.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Don2 on 10/08/2017 07:51 AM
I was hoping somebody would propose a Venus radar that also did some atmospheric sampling. Radar technology has made great strides since Magellan, and higher resolution data would give us lots of new insights into all the volcanic activity on the surface. I think Magellan data is about 100m / pixel, and some of the modern radar proposals mention 1m / pixel resolution over small areas.

@StarOne.....I don't think we will see long lived Venus landers or rovers in the near future. NASA has no experience in operating in highly corrosive high temperature environments. I can't think of any industry which operates under conditions that resemble the Venus surface. Some deep oil wells may come close, but they won't be as warm and they would be dealing with H2S rather than the more corrosive SO2. There is a refinery process called hydrocracking and the conditions for that are something like 200 bar and 500 Celsius. Oil contains sulfur, so H2S might be present in that process but I believe that is less corrosive than the surface of Venus.

There was a proposal for a balloon that would spend most of its time in the cooler upper atmosphere but would occasionally descend to the surface. That might be a good approach for exploring multiple surface sites, but given the cost I don't think it can compete with other opportunities that planetary science has.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Star One on 10/08/2017 08:33 AM
I was hoping somebody would propose a Venus radar that also did some atmospheric sampling. Radar technology has made great strides since Magellan, and higher resolution data would give us lots of new insights into all the volcanic activity on the surface. I think Magellan data is about 100m / pixel, and some of the modern radar proposals mention 1m / pixel resolution over small areas.

@StarOne.....I don't think we will see long lived Venus landers or rovers in the near future. NASA has no experience in operating in highly corrosive high temperature environments. I can't think of any industry which operates under conditions that resemble the Venus surface. Some deep oil wells may come close, but they won't be as warm and they would be dealing with H2S rather than the more corrosive SO2. There is a refinery process called hydrocracking and the conditions for that are something like 200 bar and 500 Celsius. Oil contains sulfur, so H2S might be present in that process but I believe that is less corrosive than the surface of Venus.

There was a proposal for a balloon that would spend most of its time in the cooler upper atmosphere but would occasionally descend to the surface. That might be a good approach for exploring multiple surface sites, but given the cost I don't think it can compete with other opportunities that planetary science has.

The best recent proposal I’ve seen for exploring the atmosphere of Venus was Northrop Grumman’s VAMP drone aircraft.

http://www.northropgrumman.com/Capabilities/VAMP/Pages/default.aspx
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Blackstar on 10/09/2017 10:01 PM
http://www.thespacereview.com/article/3345/1

The missions proposed for the New Frontiers program
by Van R. Kane
Monday, October 9, 2017


NASA’s managers are in the process of selecting the agency’s next planetary mission from a field of 12 competitors. This fourth mission in the New Frontiers program will follow in the footsteps of the three missions in this program that have already launched: The New Horizons Pluto spacecraft, the Juno Jupiter orbiter, and the OSIRIS-REx asteroid sample return mission.

NASA’s managers do not reveal information on the proposals submitted to protect the proprietary ideas of the proposing teams. However, the proposing teams often will disclose some information on their proposed missions at meetings and conferences. For the past year, I’ve been collecting their presentations and abstracts and can describe 10 of the 12 missions. For two other proposals, I know only their name and target.

New Frontiers missions are a key component of NASA’s program to explore the solar system. Like Goldilocks’ bears, NASA’s planetary missions come in three sizes. At the low end, costing $600–700 million, are the more frequent Discovery missions that address tightly-focused questions on (for planetary exploration, at least) tight budgets. NASA plans to fly several Discovery missions in the coming decade. At the high end, typically costing more than $2 billion, are the flagship missions that host a wide range of instruments for in-depth studies. NASA typically flies just one flagship mission a decade, although the next decade will see two launches, the Mars 2020 rover and the Europa Clipper.

However, there are a range of missions that the scientific community deems essential to understanding the solar system that can’t fit within the Discovery program, but don’t require a Flagship mission. This is the role of the New Frontiers program with missions costing around $1 billion with a planned flight rate of two per decade.

The list of possible missions for the New Frontiers program are pre-selected by a panel of scientists once a decade in a process that sets exploration priorities, known as the Decadal Survey. For this current competition, NASA’s managers added two additional targets, Saturn’s moons Enceladus and Titan.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Star One on 10/11/2017 03:46 PM
In the September 2017 issue of Astronomy Now as well as talking about Cassini Jonathan Lunine also talks a little about the ELF proposal.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: vjkane on 10/11/2017 06:48 PM
In the September 2017 issue of Astronomy Now as well as talking about Cassini Jonathan Lunine also talks a little about the ELF proposal.
How much material is on the ELF proposal.  Wondering if it's worth walk to the newsstand.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Star One on 10/11/2017 07:33 PM
In the September 2017 issue of Astronomy Now as well as talking about Cassini Jonathan Lunine also talks a little about the ELF proposal.
How much material is on the ELF proposal.  Wondering if it's worth walk to the newsstand.

I honestly wouldn’t buy the magazine just for it as in total the quotes only make up two or three longish paragraphs.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: redliox on 10/25/2017 03:58 PM
(https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DMYojYNVwAADpMj.jpg)
James Tuttle Keane tweeted some 'concept art' of the VOX mission Van Kane touched upon earlier this month.  The tweet itself here:
https://twitter.com/jtuttlekeane/status/920467779056107520
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Star One on 11/07/2017 04:46 PM
Good news for missions to Enceladus.

Powering prolonged hydrothermal activity inside Enceladus

Quote
Geophysical data from the Cassini spacecraft imply the presence of a global ocean underneath the ice shell of Enceladus1, only a few kilometres below the surface in the South Polar Terrain2,3,4. Chemical analyses indicate that the ocean is salty5 and is fed by ongoing hydrothermal activity6,7,8. In order to explain these observations, an abnormally high heat power (>20 billion watts) is required, as well as a mechanism to focus endogenic activity at the south pole9,10. Here, we show that more than 10 GW of heat can be generated by tidal friction inside the unconsolidated rocky core. Water transport in the tidally heated permeable core results in hot narrow upwellings with temperatures exceeding 363 K, characterized by powerful (1–5 GW) hotspots at the seafloor, particularly at the south pole. The release of heat in narrow regions favours intense interaction between water and rock, and the transport of hydrothermal products from the core to the plume sources. We are thus able to explain the main global characteristics of Enceladus: global ocean, strong dissipation, reduced ice-shell thickness at the south pole and seafloor activity. We predict that this endogenic activity can be sustained for tens of millions to billions of years.

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41550-017-0289-8
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Blackstar on 11/09/2017 02:13 PM
James Tuttle Keane tweeted some 'concept art' of the VOX mission

Apparently the guy who did this often doodles these kinds of things during talks. This is not official art.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: vjkane on 11/09/2017 03:04 PM
James Tuttle Keane tweeted some 'concept art' of the VOX mission

Apparently the guy who did this often doodles these kinds of things during talks. This is not official art.
Keane's work is quite popular.  I suspect that the VOX team appreciated this.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Blackstar on 11/11/2017 07:21 PM
“We formed a little workshop around this idea: Can we design a low-cost, privately funded mission to Enceladus which can be launched relatively soon, and that can look more thoroughly at those plumes, try to see what’s going on there?” he said."

Good luck with that. How do you do "cheap" at Saturn orbit? The lousy sunlight is going to lead to an expensive power system. Big solar panels then drive the rest of the spacecraft. And all that before you've even gotten to the instrument suite.

If he really wants to do this, probably the best way would be to guarantee funding of a number of instruments for a New Frontiers proposal, which would lower the NASA cost of such a mission and might really give it an edge up on the competition. But rich guys like to call the shots themselves, not work with other people. So I expect this idea to go nowhere.

https://www.geekwire.com/2017/yuri-milner-enceladus-breakthrough-paradise-papers-russian/?utm_source=GeekWire+Newsletters&utm_campaign=7221284470-daily-digest-email&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_4e93fc7dfd-7221284470-234384905&mc_cid=7221284470&mc_eid=83e80e3e98

Billionaire Yuri Milner discusses his plan to look for life on Saturn moon – and his Russian connections

by Alan Boyle on November 9, 2017 at 9:10 pm



Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: vjkane on 11/12/2017 05:26 PM
Good luck with that. How do you do "cheap" at Saturn orbit? The lousy sunlight is going to lead to an expensive power system. Big solar panels then drive the rest of the spacecraft. And all that before you've even gotten to the instrument suite.
A billionaire could just NASA to do a New Frontiers mission.  Total cost with launch is probably about $1.1-1.2 billion.  Can't take it with you.

We also don't know the cost of the ELF mission done as a NASA mission.   It's more than a Discovery mission (per OPAG presentations) but may be less than a full New Frontiers costs.

And if you want to get entrepreneurial, you can probably fly a credible mission for less.  SpaceX has shown that aerospace development can be done more cheaply than the traditional methods (including probably JPL's methods).  A lot of the engineering could be done in India where labor costs are far less than in the US.  My biggest concern with this approach isn't the design part but the reviews and testing.  Cutting corners on this has bad consequences, and so much of this is experience and the people with it are expensive.  JAXA, for example, runs a lean process and attempts mission at a fraction of NASA's costs, but their track record is spotty.  The Selene mission, though, did well.  How much risk are these guys willing to accept?
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Blackstar on 11/12/2017 05:45 PM
You don't really get to do trial and error for outer planets missions--if it breaks at Saturn because of something you missed because you went too cheap, then your next try comes many years later. So you want to engineer and test like crazy, and that's not cheap. You don't want an engineering team with no experience, so you want to hire people with experience, and that means JPL, and that's not cheap either.

Now you could do a mission cheaper than the New Frontiers cap, but I primarily see that as cutting instruments and capability, not cutting corners on engineering and testing. That might be acceptable for a billionaire who wants to put his name on something, but NASA's science community (and management) has long taken the approach of trying to maximize the science-per-dollar return. Roughly speaking, that might mean spending $1 billion to send 8 instruments somewhere rather than spending $600 million to send 2 instruments.

This idea of privately-sponsored space science missions is still rather new. There's the BoldlyGo Institute and a few other things floating around out there, but there's no real track record. B612 Foundation never got anywhere, and Red Dragon got canceled and Mars One (which had a Mars lander) never progressed. So we may go through a period of people proposing these things with nothing actually happening. 

Oh, here's the BoldlyGo Institute:

http://www.boldlygo.org/about.php

I know a few of the people involved in that and they're solid and credible. The issue is really money.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Space Ghost 1962 on 11/12/2017 06:08 PM
It's been interesting watching the EMM mission, with its LASP collaboration and its experiences with LM.

If one wanted to send a deep space mission, the first thing you do is find someone with a sat bus that's already done/doing deep space missions.

But for a few recent non LM missions, they've done differently. The idea is to build both indigenous capability as well as international collaborations to gain similar. For some used to dealing with accomplished capability like those at LASP, this other approach means a lot of sleepless nights and pulling hair out.

Learning how to build a deep space bus takes decades. Even those like LM find it hard to do long lived and hostile environment buses. How do you prove that they will last, or that you've enough margin for hostile environments ... is also a challenge. The cost to do all of these better is much higher than doing the missions themselves.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: vjkane on 11/12/2017 06:16 PM
You don't really get to do trial and error for outer planets missions--if it breaks at Saturn because of something you missed because you went too cheap, then your next try comes many years later. So you want to engineer and test like crazy, and that's not cheap. You don't want an engineering team with no experience, so you want to hire people with experience, and that means JPL, and that's not cheap either.

Now you could do a mission cheaper than the New Frontiers cap, but I primarily see that as cutting instruments and capability, not cutting corners on engineering and testing. That might be acceptable for a billionaire who wants to put his name on something, but NASA's science community (and management) has long taken the approach of trying to maximize the science-per-dollar return. Roughly speaking, that might mean spending $1 billion to send 8 instruments somewhere rather than spending $600 million to send 2 instruments.
Absolutely agree on all points except as noted below.  Almost every attempt to design and test planetary missions more cheaply have failed at least partially.  It would be good to see attempts to apply new development processes, but simpler, closer to home missions would seem the place to start.  But I expect that the members of this imitative are thinking along these lines.

The ELF mission only has two instruments -- a neutral/ion mass spec and a dust mass spec.  These are not cheap instruments, but their demands on the spacecraft and operations are about as simple as you can get beyond just flying the proverbial brick to Saturn orbit.  Chris McKay's proposed mission probably has more instruments based on his approach to other proposals that he's led.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: plutogno on 11/12/2017 06:28 PM
actually, there was a number of studies of privately-funded missions in the 1990s. Lunacorp, or ISELA to the Moon, or the NEAP asteroid prospector. I will believe in this kind of mission when I see one fly
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Blackstar on 11/12/2017 06:57 PM
actually, there was a number of studies of privately-funded missions in the 1990s. Lunacorp, or ISELA to the Moon, or the NEAP asteroid prospector. I will believe in this kind of mission when I see one fly

Yeah, privately-funded robotic mission proposals have been around for a long time. The original Lunar Prospector orbiter mission was supposed to be privately funded. I vaguely remember seeing something about that in the 1980s. They were going to use a leftover Apollo instrument. They never found traction, although the science goals were sound. Eventually, NASA came along and funded that mission.

I can remember attending a space conference in the latter 1990s where several groups talked about their privately funded space missions. There was one--maybe you remember what it was called?--where they were going to use Soviet-era Luna lander hardware. I can remember some guy pitching it and showing drawings of their mission control center. He claimed that they were going to sell tickets so people could watch from mission control. Having been in a mission control before during an actual mission event (the Bat Cave used for Clementine), I knew how non-exciting this could be and doubted their ability to sell tickets.

And thanks for mentioning LunaCorp, which I think was the most prominent example for a time, but is now forgotten.

Something I noticed with a number of these efforts was a disconnect between the people proposing them and others who had actually done such missions, both scientists and engineers. For example, they often thought that they knew the kind of science that could be performed, but didn't understand that it was not the kind of science that most scientists in that area were interested in. Similarly, they thought they had a great engineering idea, but they didn't have anybody on their team who had actually built a planetary spacecraft.

It was the typical variation of the young upstart who thought he had a brilliant idea and was too arrogant to actually bother to talk to people who had previously done that stuff. A lot of the suborbital spaceflight companies had similar problems, thinking that they were going to provide science capabilities without actually asking the scientists what they wanted.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Blackstar on 11/12/2017 07:09 PM
Absolutely agree on all points except as noted below.  Almost every attempt to design and test planetary missions more cheaply have failed at least partially.  It would be good to see attempts to apply new development processes, but simpler, closer to home missions would seem the place to start.  But I expect that the members of this imitative are thinking along these lines.

The ELF mission only has two instruments -- a neutral/ion mass spec and a dust mass spec.  These are not cheap instruments, but their demands on the spacecraft and operations are about as simple as you can get beyond just flying the proverbial brick to Saturn orbit.  Chris McKay's proposed mission probably has more instruments based on his approach to other proposals that he's led.

But Saturn is tough. They're not going to get an RTG (because of the legal issues), so they have to use solar. Solar requires big panels, and that's not cheap. And then there's other stuff that we don't think about, like components and engineering to handle the cold temperatures that far from the sun, and the deep space navigation experience, which really only resides at JPL and which has been honed through many decades of experience and training.

Could a privately-funded mission be done cheaper than NASA? Yeah. Would it be worth it? Maybe to a few scientists, probably not to the broader community. Would it be successful? Unlikely. We often discuss mission costs as if the high prices don't actually come with value. The reality is that with the higher costs for these missions you're also getting a much higher probably of success. You haven't saved any money if the spacecraft doesn't work.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: plutogno on 11/12/2017 07:13 PM
I can remember attending a space conference in the latter 1990s where several groups talked about their privately funded space missions. There was one--maybe you remember what it was called?--where they were going to use Soviet-era Luna lander hardware.

ISELA wanted to use ex-Soviet hardware. LA stood for Lavochkin Association, which manufactured all Soviet planetary probes since the mid-1960s
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Blackstar on 11/12/2017 07:15 PM
1-It's been interesting watching the EMM mission, with its LASP collaboration and its experiences with LM.

If one wanted to send a deep space mission, the first thing you do is find someone with a sat bus that's already done/doing deep space missions.

2-But for a few recent non LM missions, they've done differently. The idea is to build both indigenous capability as well as international collaborations to gain similar.

1-I have heard--I don't know how accurate it is, but it comes from some sources involved in the program--that the foreign sponsor is unhappy with their share of the work. It's more of an American mission than they want. But I would expect those kinds of complaints no matter what, since everybody wants to be Captain Kirk, not Ensign Leibovitz.

2-If by LM you mean Lockheed Martin, I was told many years ago by a former LM exec that they take a rather enlightened approach to their work on planetary missions. They only make a slim profit on them, but they find them valuable for keeping their engineers trained and challenged. Every planetary spacecraft is unique, so the engineering team is always engaged and forced to think. It's different than producing Military Comsat #7. Plus, it's more exciting to put their Mars lander on the cover of the company's annual report.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Blackstar on 11/12/2017 07:17 PM
I can remember attending a space conference in the latter 1990s where several groups talked about their privately funded space missions. There was one--maybe you remember what it was called?--where they were going to use Soviet-era Luna lander hardware.

ISELA wanted to use ex-Soviet hardware. LA stood for Lavochkin Association, which manufactured all Soviet planetary probes since the mid-1960s

That must be the one I'm thinking of.

Okay, googled them and came up with this:

http://www.outofthecradle.net/WordPress/wp-content/uploads/srn_v3n01.pdf

International Space Enterprises Lavochkin Association (ISELA).

Maybe I'm getting them confused with the several companies that wanted to offer circumlunar tourist flights using Soyuz hardware. Those companies have made various promises over the years (several years ago they claimed to have finally lined up their second required paying customer--and nothing has happened).
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Space Ghost 1962 on 11/12/2017 09:56 PM
1-It's been interesting watching the EMM mission, with its LASP collaboration and its experiences with LM.

If one wanted to send a deep space mission, the first thing you do is find someone with a sat bus that's already done/doing deep space missions.

2-But for a few recent non LM missions, they've done differently. The idea is to build both indigenous capability as well as international collaborations to gain similar.

1-I have heard--I don't know how accurate it is, but it comes from some sources involved in the program--that the foreign sponsor is unhappy with their share of the work. It's more of an American mission than they want. But I would expect those kinds of complaints no matter what, since everybody wants to be Captain Kirk, not Ensign Leibovitz.

2-If by LM you mean Lockheed Martin, I was told many years ago by a former LM exec that they take a rather enlightened approach to their work on planetary missions. They only make a slim profit on them, but they find them valuable for keeping their engineers trained and challenged. Every planetary spacecraft is unique, so the engineering team is always engaged and forced to think. It's different than producing Military Comsat #7. Plus, it's more exciting to put their Mars lander on the cover of the company's annual report.

1- I know. The irony is that many of the "non-systems types" from the domestic side are being worn weary having to do impromptu program management (which they've never done before), with the foreign side totally unbelieving as to how much has to be done to pull of the mission.

2-Yes, LM is so good at this that I think for some they make it look easy. (Eye's glaze over when even I do five minutes of the summary, even though I've just been the warm-up band before.) There's been an advantage for them on the NSS side because they can talk about how far they can take their stuff. Very effective - it also locks out other potential new vendors because they don't have such proven experience/heritage.

Back to the discussion upthread. I *have* talked to those vjkane referred to. Its very much like EMM, and how that effort started will be similar as to how these will start/progress. What is the problem in these is the appreciation of the skill, its sources (extremely rare), and the social/professional issues necessary to bring things off. (With nations, nationalist needs just like those of the wealthy, blur/complicate carrying off such programs/projects.) Which is why I chose to use a more public example. In both cases, neither are suited for a relationship with LM.

So its not budget or will that stops these from happening. It's appreciation, patience, and access to the necessary skill/capability.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Blackstar on 11/12/2017 11:54 PM
Very effective - it also locks out other potential new vendors because they don't have such proven experience/heritage.

I know a guy who used to work at Boeing. He tired to convince them to compete for planetary spacecraft (New Frontiers, Discovery). They weren't interested. They figured that a) they could not make any profit, and b) because it was competitive, they might actually lose. (The latter point also gives you some insight as to how they viewed military satellite contracts--i.e. they thought that they had much less chance of losing than when competing for NASA projects.) The argument that it would be good for Boeing's workforce and could give them space programs to brag about didn't impress anybody there.

There might actually be some interesting stories as to how Lockheed Martin uses these projects. They may rotate in both early career engineers and veterans when they compete, using the project as much for training and teamwork as an actual business opportunity. I dunno. I do know that they've gotten pretty good at it.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: vjkane on 11/13/2017 02:12 PM
But Saturn is tough. They're not going to get an RTG (because of the legal issues), so they have to use solar. Solar requires big panels, and that's not cheap. And then there's other stuff that we don't think about, like components and engineering to handle the cold temperatures that far from the sun, and the deep space navigation experience, which really only resides at JPL and which has been honed through many decades of experience and training.

Could a privately-funded mission be done cheaper than NASA? Yeah. Would it be worth it? Maybe to a few scientists, probably not to the broader community. Would it be successful? Unlikely. We often discuss mission costs as if the high prices don't actually come with value. The reality is that with the higher costs for these missions you're also getting a much higher probably of success. You haven't saved any money if the spacecraft doesn't work.
Agree on every point.  I could see a private organization doing a lunar or NEO mission.  For Saturn, the only viable approach I see would be to pay NASA or ESA to do it.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: vjkane on 11/13/2017 02:27 PM
I know a guy who used to work at Boeing. He tired to convince them to compete for planetary spacecraft (New Frontiers, Discovery). They weren't interested. They figured that a) they could not make any profit, and b) because it was competitive, they might actually lose. (The latter point also gives you some insight as to how they viewed military satellite contracts--i.e. they thought that they had much less chance of losing than when competing for NASA projects.) The argument that it would be good for Boeing's workforce and could give them space programs to brag about didn't impress anybody there.

There might actually be some interesting stories as to how Lockheed Martin uses these projects. They may rotate in both early career engineers and veterans when they compete, using the project as much for training and teamwork as an actual business opportunity. I dunno. I do know that they've gotten pretty good at it.

I believe that the Psyche mission is using a modified commercial satellite bus, and there are proposals to for the next Mars orbiter and/or sample return mission to use a commercial bus.  The CONDOR NF mission would use a Lockheed-Martin A2100 bus.  I suspect that some of the other NF proposals also would use commercial buses, but the public information on these proposals usually avoids information on the design implementation to protect proprietary information.

I believe that the now more robust capabilities of commercial spacecraft will enable cheaper planetary missions.  I don't know where the reuse of these designs breaks down.  Is Venus orbit too hot?  Hard to put a radiation vault for Jupiter orbit in a commercial craft (but a distant orbiter might be okay if there's a science mission there).  Is Saturn too cold for reasonably modify a commercial bus.  And would the length of the mission be a concern for the longevity of the spacecraft?
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Blackstar on 11/13/2017 05:41 PM
I believe that the Psyche mission is using a modified commercial satellite bus, and there are proposals to for the next Mars orbiter and/or sample return mission to use a commercial bus.  The CONDOR NF mission would use a Lockheed-Martin A2100 bus.  I suspect that some of the other NF proposals also would use commercial buses, but the public information on these proposals usually avoids information on the design implementation to protect proprietary information.

I think we could very easily wander into a confusing discussion here. For starters, when these programs claim that they are using a "commercial bus," that's misleading. They're using the commercial bus as the starting point, but they're modifying the heck out of it. It's not stock. Plus, they're putting an entirely new payload on it, not just a variation of communication antennas and transponders.

More importantly, they're doing systems engineering on a unique spacecraft, not just producing a near-copy of something that has already been done before. The thermal environment is significantly different. Power levels are different (no night/day/night/day--they could often have continuous day with decreasing power as the spacecraft travels away from the sun).

So when a company like Lockheed Martin bids on something like this, they are doing unique work, not production line stuff. Their engineers are designing a spacecraft, not just making minor modifications to something that they've done before.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Blackstar on 11/13/2017 05:44 PM
I believe that the now more robust capabilities of commercial spacecraft will enable cheaper planetary missions.  I don't know where the reuse of these designs breaks down.  Is Venus orbit too hot?  Hard to put a radiation vault for Jupiter orbit in a commercial craft (but a distant orbiter might be okay if there's a science mission there).  Is Saturn too cold for reasonably modify a commercial bus.  And would the length of the mission be a concern for the longevity of the spacecraft?

One other thing: many years ago somebody told me that Hughes built all their comsats to milspec. Now that might have made them more expensive, but in some ways the company saved money by applying a common standard to all their satellites. Also, because of that, it was easier to adapt from commercial to military, and some of their commercial comsats, like the Hughes 701 bus, were later adopted for military use.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: redliox on 11/13/2017 05:59 PM
Although it is surprising to hear that someone was bold enough to suggest a privately-funded mission to Saturn's moon, I'm starting to find its discussion in this thread more distracting than enlightening.  I agree with Blackstar that it is highly unlikely to succeed, not without active help from a larger entity like ESA or even a company like Boeing.  Unless they produce a blueprint or at least an instrument wish-list, I'd rather return conversation back to the New Frontier selection.

...on that last note, do we know when specifically this month an announcement was scheduled, or if it's delayed?
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: vjkane on 11/13/2017 06:17 PM
...on that last note, do we know when specifically this month an announcement was scheduled, or if it's delayed?

The announcement has been listed as December for a few months now.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Blackstar on 11/13/2017 06:17 PM
But Saturn is tough. They're not going to get an RTG (because of the legal issues), so they have to use solar. Solar requires big panels, and that's not cheap. And then there's other stuff that we don't think about, like components and engineering to handle the cold temperatures that far from the sun, and the deep space navigation experience, which really only resides at JPL and which has been honed through many decades of experience and training.

Could a privately-funded mission be done cheaper than NASA? Yeah. Would it be worth it? Maybe to a few scientists, probably not to the broader community. Would it be successful? Unlikely. We often discuss mission costs as if the high prices don't actually come with value. The reality is that with the higher costs for these missions you're also getting a much higher probably of success. You haven't saved any money if the spacecraft doesn't work.
Agree on every point.  I could see a private organization doing a lunar or NEO mission.  For Saturn, the only viable approach I see would be to pay NASA or ESA to do it.

Yeah, a private organization could do a lunar or NEO mission, but even those efforts haven't panned out so far. And sometimes even stuff that looks easy gets more expensive fast. A colleague has been working on a planetary CubeSat mission. You think that CubeSats cost a few hundred thousand dollars. But once you have to start designing them for longer lifetimes and radiation hardening and things like that so that they don't die two days after reaching the object--let alone before they reach the object--the cost quickly rises into the tens of millions of dollars.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: vjkane on 11/13/2017 06:22 PM
Yeah, a private organization could do a lunar or NEO mission, but even those efforts haven't panned out so far. And sometimes even stuff that looks easy gets more expensive fast. A colleague has been working on a planetary CubeSat mission. You think that CubeSats cost a few hundred thousand dollars. But once you have to start designing them for longer lifetimes and radiation hardening and things like that so that they don't die two days after reaching the object--let alone before they reach the object--the cost quickly rises into the tens of millions of dollars.
And I think that dollars is the rub for this.   I believe that commercial companies are capable of many lunar and NEO missions, probably even Martian.  My understanding is that Lockheed-Martin is/has been the lead on several of the Mars missions with NASA oversight.  But the dollars are significant!  So far the only bucket large enough has been the government.  So unless someone has hundreds of millions of dollars, it will be governments doing this.

And there's a whole class of missions that I think that only one or two space agencies have the technical capability to tackle.  That includes Saturn IMO.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Blackstar on 11/13/2017 09:36 PM
And I think that dollars is the rub for this.   I believe that commercial companies are capable of many lunar and NEO missions, probably even Martian.  My understanding is that Lockheed-Martin is/has been the lead on several of the Mars missions with NASA oversight.  But the dollars are significant!  So far the only bucket large enough has been the government.  So unless someone has hundreds of millions of dollars, it will be governments doing this.

And there's a whole class of missions that I think that only one or two space agencies have the technical capability to tackle.  That includes Saturn IMO.

If you go back to why the New Frontiers program was created in the first place (first planetary decadal survey; I was not involved in that one) part of the justification was that there are missions that are too big and/or complex to be addressed at the Discovery level. Realistically, that also meant that they were "big." So it's not surprising that they're out of reach of most other space agencies as well as private individuals.

Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Blackstar on 11/14/2017 04:42 PM
Another article on the Enceladus proposal:

http://www.popularmechanics.com/space/solar-system/a13579385/breakthrough-initiatives-launch-private-mission-enceladus/?src=socialflowTW

Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Blackstar on 11/14/2017 05:30 PM
Furthest out privately funded mission that I've heard of was to Uranus. Got to the mission planning stage. He wanted an orbiter...

A colleague who used to work at JPL looked at designing a "low cost" ice giants mission. It was going to be a magnetic field mission and I cannot remember if he targeted Uranus or Neptune. I think it was going to be flyby only, with a very minimal instrument suite. And he wanted to do it with solar, to avoid the RTG cost. He couldn't really get it to work, but the problem was in the details, not the basics. I seem to remember that he said that it would have very low power requirements and very big solar arrays, but the problem was that the spacecraft got really rickety with the big arrays and could not really do any course correction without shaking like crazy. This was not supposed to be privately funded, he was just trying to get the cost down where it might fit in a Discovery cost cap. Didn't work. Outer planets get really challenging.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Space Ghost 1962 on 11/14/2017 06:22 PM
Furthest out privately funded mission that I've heard of was to Uranus. Got to the mission planning stage. He wanted an orbiter...

A colleague who used to work at JPL looked at designing a "low cost" ice giants mission. It was going to be a magnetic field mission and I cannot remember if he targeted Uranus or Neptune.
Believe I heard of it. Don't know if they ever got my advice.

(My first deep space mission was as an intern on an early Pioneer mission to Venus that got cancelled (I'd done the software work on matching IR spectrum for a ARC planetary scientist as a prelude to an instrument, and got pulled into handling the press for Pioneer 10's encounter with Jupiter to buy them time as the images came in scan line by scan line, and the software failed to assemble them. Dancing around in N245's auditorium.)

Quote
I think it was going to be flyby only, with a very minimal instrument suite. And he wanted to do it with solar, to avoid the RTG cost.
Like what I was referring to. (If the guy gets off his orbiter fixation, perhaps it might happen.)

Quote
He couldn't really get it to work, but the problem was in the details, not the basics. I seem to remember that he said that it would have very low power requirements and very big solar arrays, but the problem was that the spacecraft got really rickety with the big arrays and could not really do any course correction without shaking like crazy.
Sounds like the one about 6-7 years back or so? Southern California "patron" IIRC?

Solar has changed a bit since them, and we solved the energy density problem by reusing the HGA as a solar concentrator ;) and used spin stablized platform with a single thruster, like with earlier Pioneers. Needs careful design.

Quote
This was not supposed to be privately funded, he was just trying to get the cost down where it might fit in a Discovery cost cap. Didn't work. Outer planets get really challenging.
They are. But it's on the edge of doing. Think it wil be eventually done.

By the way, the LASPies have a great cubesat program, interesting experiences with MAVEN and EMM. Not a bad place for an deep space cubesat/smallsat program, as long as the Caltech connection could be handled somehow. There's a certain key asset there for this kind of thing.

(Some of what I experienced from McKay/others is that the "lesser" programs/projects at Caltech get unstable responses where they bump elbows with the "big budget" guys.) I've found that at UC Berkeley's SSL they don't take smallsat projects seriously, especially for interplanetary. This extends to Arizona's LPL and JHU's APL too. Touchy crowd.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: DarkenedOne on 11/14/2017 07:24 PM
Furthest out privately funded mission that I've heard of was to Uranus. Got to the mission planning stage. He wanted an orbiter...

A colleague who used to work at JPL looked at designing a "low cost" ice giants mission. It was going to be a magnetic field mission and I cannot remember if he targeted Uranus or Neptune. I think it was going to be flyby only, with a very minimal instrument suite. And he wanted to do it with solar, to avoid the RTG cost. He couldn't really get it to work, but the problem was in the details, not the basics. I seem to remember that he said that it would have very low power requirements and very big solar arrays, but the problem was that the spacecraft got really rickety with the big arrays and could not really do any course correction without shaking like crazy. This was not supposed to be privately funded, he was just trying to get the cost down where it might fit in a Discovery cost cap. Didn't work. Outer planets get really challenging.

RTGs do not cost that much.  If you look at the budget requests for the plutonium production it comes out to millions of dollars per kilogram.   While that sounds expensive the cost of trying to do it with solar is far more if it is even possible.  The real problem with RTGs is that there is no commercial market for them.   I do not think that it is the case that it would be illegal for a commercial company to produce it.   There are plenty of commercial operations producing radioisotopes for the medical and scientific industries.  I think that historically because only NASA and the Soviet Union had a need for them no real commercial market developed.  The situation is changing though.  There are many more organizations now who are interested in operations that require RTGs.  These organizations include space agencies like ESA, CNSA, and ISRO.  There are also private companies who want to do things like land on the moon.  Ultimately someone is going to start selling this stuff.  I just hope that our regulatory bodies don't prevent that from being us.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Blackstar on 11/14/2017 07:39 PM
Furthest out privately funded mission that I've heard of was to Uranus. Got to the mission planning stage. He wanted an orbiter...

A colleague who used to work at JPL looked at designing a "low cost" ice giants mission. It was going to be a magnetic field mission and I cannot remember if he targeted Uranus or Neptune. I think it was going to be flyby only, with a very minimal instrument suite. And he wanted to do it with solar, to avoid the RTG cost. He couldn't really get it to work, but the problem was in the details, not the basics. I seem to remember that he said that it would have very low power requirements and very big solar arrays, but the problem was that the spacecraft got really rickety with the big arrays and could not really do any course correction without shaking like crazy. This was not supposed to be privately funded, he was just trying to get the cost down where it might fit in a Discovery cost cap. Didn't work. Outer planets get really challenging.

RTGs do not cost that much.  If you look at the budget requests for the plutonium production it comes out to millions of dollars per kilogram.   While that sounds expensive the cost of trying to do it with solar is far more if it is even possible.  The real problem with RTGs is that there is no commercial market for them.   I do not think that it is the case that it would be illegal for a commercial company to produce it.   There are plenty of commercial operations producing radioisotopes for the medical and scientific industries.  I think that historically because only NASA and the Soviet Union had a need for them no real commercial market developed.  The situation is changing though.  There are many more organizations now who are interested in operations that require RTGs.  These organizations include space agencies like ESA, CNSA, and ISRO.  There are also private companies who want to do things like land on the moon.  Ultimately someone is going to start selling this stuff.  I just hope that our regulatory bodies don't prevent that from being us.

There's so much wrong with this that I wouldn't know where to start in correcting it, so I won't bother. It's just wrong.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Blackstar on 11/14/2017 08:18 PM
For the past four years or so, NASA has been spending something like $50 million per year to restart Pu-238 production. I believe that this year, for the first time in about three decades, they made about 700 grams of Pu-238. So, if anybody is counting, that works out to about $200 million for 700 grams of Pu-238...

But, once they get up to full production, they'll be spending about $50 million for 1.5 kilograms, so the cost will be... $50 million for 1.5 kilograms. For comparison, 1.5 kilograms of gold would cost you about $65K.

Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: ArbitraryConstant on 11/14/2017 09:32 PM
Mind you Thorium is omnipresent, and its most common isotope is has a long half life. You can get low energy density RTG's using a Berkeley prof's liquid crystal to extract energy.
Apologies if I'm missing something but adding up the Thorium-232 decay chain I get ~0.033 Wth/ton, which is low power density indeed. Hard to believe solar wouldn't beat that, even in the Kuiper Belt. My understanding was Americium-241 was the next best RTG material, it can be extracted from civilian reactor waste (already done for smoke detectors etc).
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Blackstar on 11/15/2017 12:26 AM
My understanding was Americium-241 was the next best RTG material, it can be extracted from civilian reactor waste (already done for smoke detectors etc).

There's public information on that. You can google it. The Europeans are going to use that material. Pu-238 is better, but the Europeans don't have a source, so they are going with something they can produce.

As a colleague explained to me, one of the benefits of Pu-238 is that it is not soluble in water, so if if comes down from orbit or lands in the water after a launch accident, it won't dissolve and can be recovered. I don't know if the same is true for Americium.

The U.S. government treats isotopes very carefully. There are proliferation concerns, meaning that they don't want them to fall into the wrong hands. Originally this was mostly about somebody building a nuclear bomb, but it evolved into concern about dirty bombs. That concern increased after 9/11.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: DarkenedOne on 11/15/2017 03:08 AM
For the past four years or so, NASA has been spending something like $50 million per year to restart Pu-238 production. I believe that this year, for the first time in about three decades, they made about 700 grams of Pu-238. So, if anybody is counting, that works out to about $200 million for 700 grams of Pu-238...

But, once they get up to full production, they'll be spending about $50 million for 1.5 kilograms, so the cost will be... $50 million for 1.5 kilograms. For comparison, 1.5 kilograms of gold would cost you about $65K.

Ok sounds like what I was saying.  On top of that there are plenty of proposals for significantly increasing the yield of the production.  While tens of millions per kilogram sounds expensive they are usually a small expense compared to the larger mission. 
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Blackstar on 11/15/2017 03:11 AM
For the past four years or so, NASA has been spending something like $50 million per year to restart Pu-238 production. I believe that this year, for the first time in about three decades, they made about 700 grams of Pu-238. So, if anybody is counting, that works out to about $200 million for 700 grams of Pu-238...

But, once they get up to full production, they'll be spending about $50 million for 1.5 kilograms, so the cost will be... $50 million for 1.5 kilograms. For comparison, 1.5 kilograms of gold would cost you about $65K.

Ok sounds like what I was saying.  On top of that there are plenty of proposals for significantly increasing the yield of the production.  While tens of millions per kilogram sounds expensive they are usually a small expense compared to the larger mission. 

No, it sounds like the complete opposite of what you were saying. But carry on.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Danderman on 11/15/2017 03:22 AM
I can remember attending a space conference in the latter 1990s where several groups talked about their privately funded space missions. There was one--maybe you remember what it was called?--where they were going to use Soviet-era Luna lander hardware.

ISELA wanted to use ex-Soviet hardware. LA stood for Lavochkin Association, which manufactured all Soviet planetary probes since the mid-1960s

IIRC, the US side were ex-GD people. I explained to them at the time that Luna hardware required Protons to get beyond LEO, but they did not seem to mind.

Lavochkin has since demonstrated that Soyuz can be used to launch modified Luna hardware that can propel itself beyond LEO, except that it doesn't work. Yet.

Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: DarkenedOne on 11/15/2017 03:32 AM
For the past four years or so, NASA has been spending something like $50 million per year to restart Pu-238 production. I believe that this year, for the first time in about three decades, they made about 700 grams of Pu-238. So, if anybody is counting, that works out to about $200 million for 700 grams of Pu-238...

But, once they get up to full production, they'll be spending about $50 million for 1.5 kilograms, so the cost will be... $50 million for 1.5 kilograms. For comparison, 1.5 kilograms of gold would cost you about $65K.

Ok sounds like what I was saying.  On top of that there are plenty of proposals for significantly increasing the yield of the production.  While tens of millions per kilogram sounds expensive they are usually a small expense compared to the larger mission. 

No, it sounds like the complete opposite of what you were saying. But carry on.

It is a massive waste of time to sit around trying to figure out how to get around using nuclear power for surface and deep space missions.  There is a reason why NASA resumed Pu-238 production.  It was unavoidable.   

All it takes is a few back napkin level calculations to see that solar irradiance for destinations beyond Jupiter simply do not make solar power viable.

Even for surface missions like to the Moon and Mars where solar power might be possible RTGs still come out as the superior option.  Remember it costs you hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars per kilogram to get to places like the Marian surface in the first place.   People who have tried to come up with systems that do not use RTGs have found such systems to be more expensive than ones with RTGs.  RTGs save you money despite their cost.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: plutogno on 11/15/2017 05:43 AM
Lavochkin has since demonstrated that Soyuz can be used to launch modified Luna hardware that can propel itself beyond LEO, except that it doesn't work. Yet.

not entirely true. Soyuz has been used to launch (successfully) Mars and Venus Express for ESA, in both cases using Luna-derived Fregat stages.
but this is entirely OT
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: vjkane on 11/15/2017 04:03 PM

All it takes is a few back napkin level calculations to see that solar irradiance for destinations beyond Jupiter simply do not make solar power viable.
There are at least three New Frontiers (we don't know what power ELSAH is proposing to use) and one European proposals that would use solar power at Saturn.  I'm going to go with thinking the engineers on the proposing teams probably are pretty smart people.  There are almost certainly problems with using solar that far out (selecting cells for low light and low temperatures and the mass and size of the large panels), but these teams think they have solutions.  And the they decided that the tradeoffs for solar are better than the $ costs of using the offered RTGs.  (Well, not for the ESA proposal, which wouldn't have been offered an RTG.)

Assuming these guys are right, then the solar cell line falls somewhere beyond Saturn.  I haven't seen anyone proposal solar for Uranus and beyond.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: whitelancer64 on 11/15/2017 04:29 PM

All it takes is a few back napkin level calculations to see that solar irradiance for destinations beyond Jupiter simply do not make solar power viable.
There are at least three New Frontiers (we don't know what power ELSAH is proposing to use) and one European proposals that would use solar power at Saturn.  I'm going to go with thinking the engineers on the proposing teams probably are pretty smart people.  There are almost certainly problems with using solar that far out (selecting cells for low light and low temperatures and the mass and size of the large panels), but these teams think they have solutions.  And the they decided that the tradeoffs for solar are better than the $ costs of using the offered RTGs.  (Well, not for the ESA proposal, which wouldn't have been offered an RTG.)

Assuming these guys are right, then the solar cell line falls somewhere beyond Saturn.  I haven't seen anyone proposal solar for Uranus and beyond.

Solar power is certainly feasible as far out as Saturn. An RTG would be a better option, both for consistency of power and weight (and it's a heat source for the probe to keep warm) ... if RTGs were available.

Missions being proposed with solar that far out are more a matter of necessity than being the superior engineering option.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Blackstar on 11/15/2017 05:00 PM
Solar power is certainly feasible as far out as Saturn. 

For certain definitions of "feasible."

The problem, of course, is that the farther out you go, the bigger the solar panels have to get, and simply carrying all that mass and that bulk can then limit operations. Some observations and activities become impossible because there's a giant solar array to maneuver around or it blocks your field of view or line of sight for communications.

When we did the Academies' report on restarting Pu-238 production back in 2008/9, one of the things we noted was that NASA had fallen into a nasty circle whereby Pu-238 was so precious and running out that NASA had started to rule it out for missions. This extended the supply, which had the adverse effect of making it look like they did not need to restart production. That only created more pressure not to use it--and also meant that the material that was sitting in the unused stockpile was continuing to decay. They were reaching a point where the existing material was going to be too weak to use effectively.

Some of us worried that when JPL switched to solar for Europa Clipper this could undercut the argument for restarting Pu-238 production. Fortunately, that has not happened, and one of the surprising things about EC is that the mission designers later learned that they could not have done the mission with RTGs. But managing the Pu-238 stockpile is a case of keeping one foot on the gas and the other foot on the brakes, and also not allowing people to start thinking that Pu-238 is not needed for Mars, Jupiter and Saturn missions because solar power can do it all.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: vjkane on 11/15/2017 05:12 PM

Solar power is certainly feasible as far out as Saturn. An RTG would be a better option, both for consistency of power and weight (and it's a heat source for the probe to keep warm) ... if RTGs were available.

Missions being proposed with solar that far out are more a matter of necessity than being the superior engineering option.
NASA is making RTGs available for the next New Frontiers mission.  At least three teams chose to go with solar despite all the issues that I and others have listed.  I presume those were informed decisions by knowledgeable and smart engineers and PIs.  So far as I know, only Dragonfly, which must use an RTG under Titan's haze layers, among all the NF proposals to all targets is proposing to use an RTG.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Blackstar on 11/15/2017 06:40 PM
I presume those were informed decisions by knowledgeable and smart engineers and PIs. 

Yes, although I would add that there have been complaints in the recent past about how NASA was allocating the costs of integrating RTGs. I don't remember the specifics, but it had something to do with the ancillary costs--like you would get the RTG for a set price, but you then had to pay to nuclear certify the launch. That might have helped push some teams to avoid the RTGs.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: vjkane on 11/15/2017 07:16 PM
Yes, although I would add that there have been complaints in the recent past about how NASA was allocating the costs of integrating RTGs. I don't remember the specifics, but it had something to do with the ancillary costs--like you would get the RTG for a set price, but you then had to pay to nuclear certify the launch. That might have helped push some teams to avoid the RTGs.
Based on comments in meetings, price is the issue.  I'm sure that if NASA covered the RTG costs or only charged the equivalent cost of the solar alternative, then teams would love to have the compact power source that also produces a lot of spare heat to pipe around the spacecraft.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Blackstar on 11/15/2017 08:30 PM
Based on comments in meetings, price is the issue.  I'm sure that if NASA covered the RTG costs or only charged the equivalent cost of the solar alternative, then teams would love to have the compact power source that also produces a lot of spare heat to pipe around the spacecraft.

I don't know how NASA allocated the costs of an RTG to the missions. No matter how they did it, they're not allocating full costs, because they couldn't--the infrastructure costs are huge, and dividing them into such a low production run would be killer.

For example, Cassini was launched in 1997, New Horizons in 2006, and MSL/Curiosity in 2011. So that's 14 years for two RTG-powered spacecraft (NH and MSL). How would you apportion that 14 years of infrastructure cost? Should NH pay for half of it? That would have been a few hundred million dollars--and this was before Pu-238 production was restarted, increasing the annual infrastructure cost.

For the Discovery round prior to the most recent one, NASA was going to offer the ASRG to the programs for "free," although requiring them to pay some part of the certification cost. Later the ASRG got canceled.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Targeteer on 12/19/2017 02:29 AM
December 18, 2017
MEDIA ADVISORY M17-151
NASA to Name Finalists for Future Solar System Mission

NASA will announce finalist concepts for a future robotic mission to explore the solar system during a media teleconference at 2 p.m. EST Wednesday, Dec. 20.

The mission, targeted to launch in the mid-2020s, would be the fourth in NASA’s New Frontiers portfolio – a series of cost-capped missions led by a principal investigator. Current New Frontiers missions are New Horizons to Pluto and the Kuiper Belt, Juno at Jupiter, and the OSIRIS-REx asteroid sample return mission, now heading to the asteroid Bennu for arrival in 2018.

Participating in the telecon will be:

    Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington
    Jim Green, director of the Planetary Science Division at NASA Headquarters in Washington
    Curt Niebur, New Frontiers program scientist at at NASA Headquarters
    Principal investigators of the selected missions

The mission concepts were chosen from 12 proposals submitted in May to address top solar system exploration goals, as identified by the planetary science community. Investigations were limited to six mission themes:

    Comet Surface Sample Return
    Lunar South Pole-Aitken Basin Sample Return
    Ocean Worlds (Titan and/or Enceladus)
    Saturn Probe
    Trojan Tour and Rendezvous
    Venus In Situ Explorer

The teleconference will be streamed live on NASA’s website.

To participate in the call, media must email their name and affiliation to Dwayne Brown at [email protected] by noon Dec. 20. Briefing materials will be posted at 2 p.m. at:

https://www.nasa.gov/mediaresources

For more information about NASA’s New Frontiers program:

https://planetarymissions.nasa.gov
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: redliox on 12/19/2017 05:57 AM
Ah finally!  Something non-holiday to look forward to this month & week!  :)

The Venus option deserves a new mission, but I guess a Saturn/Titan/Enceladus option may end up favored in light of Cassini nastalsia.  I will be most surprised if one of the other options is selected.  Do we know how many finalists?  I can only assume 4 like Discovery was.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: jebbo on 12/19/2017 06:22 AM
From twitter chatter, I'm hearing the official line is "three-ish" ...

There's a decent summary of the contenders here:

http://futureplanets.blogspot.co.uk/2017/08/proposed-new-frontiers-missions.html (http://futureplanets.blogspot.co.uk/2017/08/proposed-new-frontiers-missions.html)

My bets:
* the Venus lander (poor old Venus has not seen much love lately)
* ELF (flying through the Enceladus plumes; how can they not pick that!)

The third is tricky. I'd love to see Dragonfly but it might be over ambitious; failing that possibly a political nod towards the Moon ...

--- Tony
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: zubenelgenubi on 12/19/2017 05:53 PM
https://www.nasa.gov/press-release/nasa-to-name-finalists-for-future-solar-system-mission

Dec. 18, 2017
MEDIA ADVISORY M17-151
NASA to Name Finalists for Future Solar System Mission

NASA will announce finalist concepts for a future robotic mission to explore the solar system during a media teleconference at 2 p.m. EST Wednesday, Dec. 20.

The mission, targeted to launch in the mid-2020s, would be the fourth in NASA’s New Frontiers portfolio – a series of cost-capped missions led by a principal investigator. Current New Frontiers missions are New Horizons to Pluto and the Kuiper Belt, Juno at Jupiter, and the OSIRIS-REx asteroid sample return mission, now heading to the asteroid Bennu for arrival in 2018.

Participating in the telecon will be:

Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington
Jim Green, director of the Planetary Science Division at NASA Headquarters in Washington
Curt Niebur, New Frontiers program scientist at at NASA Headquarters
Principal investigators of the selected missions

The mission concepts were chosen from 12 proposals submitted in May to address top solar system exploration goals, as identified by the planetary science community. Investigations were limited to six mission themes:

Comet Surface Sample Return
Lunar South Pole-Aitken Basin Sample Return
Ocean Worlds (Titan and/or Enceladus)
Saturn Probe
Trojan Tour and Rendezvous
Venus In Situ Explorer

The teleconference will be streamed live on NASA’s website.

To participate in the call, media must email their name and affiliation to Dwayne Brown at [email protected] by noon Dec. 20. Briefing materials will be posted at 2 p.m. at:

https://www.nasa.gov/mediaresources

For more information about NASA’s New Frontiers program:

https://planetarymissions.nasa.gov

-end-
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Blackstar on 12/20/2017 03:53 AM
* the Venus lander (poor old Venus has not seen much love lately)
* ELF (flying through the Enceladus plumes; how can they not pick that!)

The third is tricky. I'd love to see Dragonfly but it might be over ambitious; failing that possibly a political nod towards the Moon ...

So the way this works is that a review process selects the missions that are scientifically productive, technically feasible, and fit within the cost cap. If a mission cannot make it past those gates, then it cannot get selected.

The final selection can include programmatic considerations like balance (i.e. there has not been a Venus mission forever, and doing such a mission would redress that fact). But keep in mind that they are not selecting targets, they are selecting missions, meaning specific implementations of ways to explore the targets. If the implementation fails, it won't get into the final round.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Star One on 12/20/2017 05:53 AM
Ah finally!  Something non-holiday to look forward to this month & week!  :)

The Venus option deserves a new mission, but I guess a Saturn/Titan/Enceladus option may end up favored in light of Cassini nastalsia.  I will be most surprised if one of the other options is selected.  Do we know how many finalists?  I can only assume 4 like Discovery was.

Not in my view until they perfect the technologies to do a proper Venus lander/rover.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Star One on 12/20/2017 06:43 AM
Article covering this week’s upcoming decision and the contenders. Makes a change to see a newspaper covering this before the choice is made rather than after it is.

https://mobile.nytimes.com/2017/12/19/science/nasa-new-frontiers-finalists.html?referer=
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: redliox on 12/20/2017 06:52 AM
Ah finally!  Something non-holiday to look forward to this month & week!  :)

The Venus option deserves a new mission, but I guess a Saturn/Titan/Enceladus option may end up favored in light of Cassini nastalsia.  I will be most surprised if one of the other options is selected.  Do we know how many finalists?  I can only assume 4 like Discovery was.

Not in my view until they perfect the technologies to do a proper Venus lander/rover.

Most of the technology is here, specifically for orbital and upper atmospheric missions. If you looked into the Advanced Concepts thread, there are developments in silicon carbide and clockwork computing that could enable surface ventures able to tolerate heat.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Star One on 12/20/2017 08:38 AM
Ah finally!  Something non-holiday to look forward to this month & week!  :)

The Venus option deserves a new mission, but I guess a Saturn/Titan/Enceladus option may end up favored in light of Cassini nastalsia.  I will be most surprised if one of the other options is selected.  Do we know how many finalists?  I can only assume 4 like Discovery was.

Not in my view until they perfect the technologies to do a proper Venus lander/rover.

Most of the technology is here, specifically for orbital and upper atmospheric missions. If you looked into the Advanced Concepts thread, there are developments in silicon carbide and clockwork computing that could enable surface ventures able to tolerate heat.

That’s what I was referring to and they don’t appear to be ready yet for an actual mission.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: vapour_nudge on 12/20/2017 08:55 AM
I have my favourites but I'm happy to see any of them get the go ahead. It's wonderful to see the 3 previous missions all underway. I only wish they'd come along more often, Discovery too.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Blackstar on 12/20/2017 12:52 PM
Most of the technology is here, specifically for orbital and upper atmospheric missions. If you looked into the Advanced Concepts thread, there are developments in silicon carbide and clockwork computing that could enable surface ventures able to tolerate heat.

There is sufficient technology to do the Venus mission described in the planetary science decadal survey. Now whether or not that mission can be done under the cost cap is another question. Of the other ones in the running, I think that the comet sampling mission is the one that would most push the technology. But none of these are very difficult missions, it's just a question of what they can do within the cost cap.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: jebbo on 12/20/2017 12:54 PM
But none of these are very difficult missions, it's just a question of what they can do within the cost cap.

Hmm ... Dragonfly seems pretty hard - basically an autonomous helicopter!  [ BTW, I love the idea ]

--- Tony
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Blackstar on 12/20/2017 04:11 PM
But none of these are very difficult missions, it's just a question of what they can do within the cost cap.

Hmm ... Dragonfly seems pretty hard - basically an autonomous helicopter!  [ BTW, I love the idea ]

--- Tony

You are referring to the missions that were proposed, whereas I was referring to the missions that were outlined in the decadal survey. Titan and Enceladus missions were not in the DS.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Blackstar on 12/20/2017 04:57 PM
There's something in the NY Times article that I wanted to comment on:

"The European Space Agency’s Rosetta mission spent a couple of years flying around Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, even putting a small lander down on the surface.

Comet Nucleus Dust and Organics Return, or Condor, proposed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, would return to Comet 67P, scoop up samples and bring them to Earth for closer study."

When a team proposes a mission concept, they are asked a lot of questions, like "How do you know the composition of the surface, and if you don't know it, how will you gather sufficient data about it before you touch it? And how can you design a sampling mechanism that can deal with the unknown qualities of the surface?" Clearly the CONDOR team chose to remove a big degree of uncertainty by picking a comet that is already well characterized. That would work in their favor, although there might be other factors that would work in the favor of other teams.

I know some people on OSIRIS-REx and they've explained all the issues they have had to deal with in designing their mission. One of the things they are planning is an extensive analysis of the entire asteroid before they go down to take a sample. That increases their confidence in getting a good sample, but of course it makes the mission longer which increases cost. Those are the tradeoffs that all these missions do.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Blackstar on 12/20/2017 05:01 PM
* the Venus lander (poor old Venus has not seen much love lately)
* ELF (flying through the Enceladus plumes; how can they not pick that!)

The third is tricky. I'd love to see Dragonfly but it might be over ambitious; failing that possibly a political nod towards the Moon ...

So the way this works is that a review process selects the missions that are scientifically productive, technically feasible, and fit within the cost cap. If a mission cannot make it past those gates, then it cannot get selected.

The final selection can include programmatic considerations like balance (i.e. there has not been a Venus mission forever, and doing such a mission would redress that fact). But keep in mind that they are not selecting targets, they are selecting missions, meaning specific implementations of ways to explore the targets. If the implementation fails, it won't get into the final round.

Let me add something to my earlier post to provide a little more clarity:

NASA received 12 proposals. Those all go through reviews. The review team then submits a list of the missions that they believe are "selectable." It's possible that all of them could be selectable, but the chances are that the review team is going to eliminate at least 50-60% of them. Suppose they say that 6 of the 12 are selectable. NASA officials (and this decision is really made by the AA, I believe) can then winnow that down a bit and choose only a subset to go forward. For instance, they could pick 4 of the 6 to continue forward. That's what happened during the last Discovery round, when there was apparently at least one additional mission that could have gone on to the second phase but was ruled out. There are a number of reasons for doing that, including available money to continue the studies.


Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: arachnitect on 12/20/2017 05:58 PM
starting soon:

https://www.nasa.gov/nasalive
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Blackstar on 12/20/2017 06:06 PM
CAESAR comet mission and Dragonfly Titan mission.

I didn't see that coming. Those are two very ambitious missions.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: as58 on 12/20/2017 06:07 PM
CAESAR and Dragonfly. Didn't see that coming.

edit: I swear I didn't plagiarise Blackstar. I wrote my post before I saw his...
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Blackstar on 12/20/2017 06:10 PM
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: K-P on 12/20/2017 06:10 PM
Comet mission? Again...???

:(

Well, let's hope for some radical price reduction in the upcoming years with launch prices (*some undefined launch vehicles here*) so we can send a bunch of new missions to all those other interesting places (Enceladus, Venus surface, Phobos...).

But really. Comets? Again?


edit: edited for viewer pleasure
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Blackstar on 12/20/2017 06:15 PM
I gotta give Steve credit: when we were putting together the decadal survey he said that he thought it would be really difficult for a proposer to get a comet sample return mission to fit into the cost cap. But he said that we should put it in the decadal and let people try. (Steve was the chair of the decadal survey.) My guess is that after the decadal was over he looked at that and thought it would be a real challenge and decided to accept that challenge. But if anybody can pull it off, I believe Steve can. He's amazing.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: arachnitect on 12/20/2017 06:20 PM
If I were in charge of a functioning spacecraft on the surface of Titan, I don't think I'd have the courage to risk taking off and flying around...
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: TheFallen on 12/20/2017 06:27 PM
I'm very excited for the Dragonfly mission...though I'll try not to get my hopes up like I did with TiME five years ago...
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Blackstar on 12/20/2017 06:28 PM
CAESAR will use a JAXA-supplied reentry vehicle. They chose that because it drops its heat shield in flight, which eliminates a lot of heat before it can soak through and heat up the sample.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Archibald on 12/20/2017 06:57 PM
And South Pole - Aitken lost again.  :(  As usual since 2000.

That mission is really unfortunate.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Blackstar on 12/20/2017 07:01 PM
Something that I've picked up from talking to some of the losing Discovery proposals is that it is not easy from the outside to figure out why a mission was selected or not selected based upon the technology. Sometimes there are hidden details that we may never know about that resulted in a proposal being rejected.

Put another way, imagine you have two missions: an orbiter and a lander. From the outside it seems apparent that the orbiter is easier than the lander to do. But the orbiter mission could be rejected because the team that proposed it did not do a good job of answering some specific technical details. For instance, they might have not explained how the required science would be obtained with the specific orbit that they chose. So yeah, it's easier to orbit in general, but their specific proposal had weaknesses. Meanwhile, the lander team might have put together all of its pieces in a very meticulous and careful manner, and so they demonstrated to the reviewers that even though their mission is more technically challenging, they can answer all of the challenges.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Blackstar on 12/20/2017 07:08 PM
And South Pole - Aitken lost again.  :(  As usual since 2000.

That mission is really unfortunate.

I was hoping it would be in the selection space. But landing on the lunar farside is challenging. Not impossible, but maybe they just cannot fit it into the cost cap. The Chinese may not have to worry about a cost cap.
Title: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Star One on 12/20/2017 07:09 PM
I am happy but also really, really surprised Dragonfly got through this round. Happy because it’s a Titan mission and I really want us to go back there. Surprised because for a New Frontiers mission, in fact for any kind of mission in general, it’s unbelievable ambitious.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Star One on 12/20/2017 07:22 PM
Here’s the NASA press release

NASA Invests in Concept Development for Missions to Comet, Saturn Moon Titan

NASA has selected two finalist concepts for a robotic mission planned to launch in the mid-2020s: a comet sample return mission and a drone-like rotorcraft that would explore potential landing sites on Saturn's largest moon, Titan.

The agency announced the concepts Wednesday, following an extensive and competitive peer review process. The concepts were chosen from 12 proposals submitted in April under a New Frontiers program announcement of opportunity.

"This is a giant leap forward in developing our next bold mission of science discovery," said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. "These are tantalizing investigations that seek to answer some of the biggest questions in our solar system today."

The finalists are:
artist concept drawing of spacecraft
The CAESAR (Comet Astrobiology Exploration SAmple Return) mission will acquire a sample from the nucleus of comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko, returning it safely to Earth. Comets are made up of materials from ancient stars, interstellar clouds, and the birth of our Solar System. The CAESAR sample will reveal how these materials contributed to the early Earth, including the origins of the Earth's oceans, and of life. Click to enlarge. Credits: NASA
Comet Astrobiology Exploration Sample Return (CAESAR)
The CAESAR mission seeks to return a sample from 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, a comet that was successfully explored by the European Space Agency's Rosetta spacecraft, to determine its origin and history. Led by Steve Squyres of Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, CAESAR would be managed by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

Dragonfly

Dragonfly is a drone-like rotorcraft that would explore the prebiotic chemistry and habitability of dozens of sites on Saturn's moon Titan, an ocean world in our solar system. Elizabeth Turtle from the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Maryland, is the lead investigator, with APL providing project management.

The CAESAR and Dragonfly missions will receive funding through the end of 2018 to further develop and mature their concepts. NASA plans to select one of these investigations in the spring of 2019 to continue on to subsequent mission phases.

The selected mission will be the fourth in NASA's New Frontiers portfolio, a series of principal investigator-led planetary science investigations that fall under a development cost cap of approximately $850 million. Its predecessors are the New Horizons mission to Pluto and a Kuiper Belt object known as 2014 MU69, the Juno mission to Jupiter, and OSIRIS-REx, which will rendezvous with and return a sample of the asteroid Bennu.

NASA also announced the selection of two mission concepts that will receive technology development funds to prepare them for future mission competitions.

The concepts selected for technology development are:

Enceladus Life Signatures and Habitability (ELSAH)

The ELSAH mission concept will receive funds to develop cost-effective techniques that limit spacecraft contamination and thereby enable life detection measurements on cost-capped missions. The principal investigator is Chris McKay of NASA's Ames Research Center in California's Silicon Valley, and the managing NASA center is Goddard.

Venus In situ Composition Investigations (VICI)

Led by Lori Glaze at Goddard, the VICI mission concept will further develop the Venus Element and Mineralogy Camera to operate under the harsh conditions on Venus. The instrument uses lasers on a lander to measure the mineralogy and elemental composition of rocks on the surface of Venus.

The call for concepts was limited to six mission themes: comet surface sample return, lunar south pole-Aitken Basin sample return, ocean worlds (Titan and/or Enceladus), Saturn probe, Trojan asteroid tour and rendezvous, and Venus in situ explorer.

New Frontiers Program investigations address NASA's planetary science objectives as described in the 2014 NASA Strategic Plan and the 2014 NASA Science Plan. The program is managed by the Planetary Missions Program Office at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, for the agency's Planetary Science Division in Washington.

Read more about NASA's New Frontiers Program and missions at:

https://planetarymissions.nasa.gov
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Alpha_Centauri on 12/20/2017 08:10 PM
Personally i'm a little disappointed a more astrobiology-relevant mission to Enceladus wasn't selected.  It is very encouraging however to see technologically innovative missions get through.

And South Pole - Aitken lost again.  :(  As usual since 2000.

That mission is really unfortunate.

If the Deep Space Gateway happens I can see a similar mission with mix of human/robotic exploration being approved, perhaps led by an international partner, so I'm sure aspects of the mission will find a use even if not as a New Frontiers.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: gosnold on 12/20/2017 08:28 PM
CAESAR will use a JAXA-supplied reentry vehicle. They chose that because it drops its heat shield in flight, which eliminates a lot of heat before it can soak through and heat up the sample.

I have a feeling the JAXA funding for heat shields will not go away anytime soon...
Title: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Star One on 12/20/2017 08:41 PM
Dragonfly certainly seems to have caught the interest of the Twittersphere. I suppose drones are a technology that most cab understand and thanks to Cassini Titan has become more well known.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Bynaus on 12/20/2017 09:30 PM
Exciting, both missions. I'd love to see a return to Titan - with its "Earth-like" landscapes, it is likely to capture the imagination and fascination of the public. Lets hope that this drone approach is not too risky, in the end.

Sample return from a comet is a very old dream within the planetary science community. Rosetta got close to that, with the ability of measuring chemical and even isotopic compositions "in situ". But nothing pars with the labs back on Mother Earth.

No love for Venus, again, which is, well, expected these days. We'll never find these upper atmospheric organisms... ;)
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Space Ghost 1962 on 12/20/2017 09:40 PM
We don't have the instrumentation to analyze the complex carbon compounds and related chemistry/processes on Titan.

So what you're left with is understanding topography and arrangement of the surface. Unclear that the science product helps much advancing understanding much.

Comet sample return does advance understanding however.

Title: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Star One on 12/20/2017 10:15 PM
We don't have the instrumentation to analyze the complex carbon compounds and related chemistry/processes on Titan.

So what you're left with is understanding topography and arrangement of the surface. Unclear that the science product helps much advancing understanding much.

Comet sample return does advance understanding however.

Any evidence to back up such strong claims?

I wouldn’t normally say this but I struggle to believe these statements are supportable especially as the mission being picked argues against them.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: GWH on 12/20/2017 10:23 PM
I saw in twitter the missions selected won't have landed or returned samples for almost 20 years.  Do we know the trajectories, and if they rely on flybys? Wondering if that type of planning is dated with the plethora of heavy lifters coming into the market.
Edit: From the abstract launch is intended for before end of 2025, arrival in mid 2030's. A direct Hohmann transfer orbit would take https://saturn-archive.jpl.nasa.gov/faq/FAQTrajectory/ (http://6 years). Casisini with its multiple flybys had a transit time of roughly 7 years - pretty insignificant in the grand scheme of things. 

If the Deep Space Gateway happens I can see a similar mission with mix of human/robotic exploration being approved, perhaps led by an international partner, so I'm sure aspects of the mission will find a use even if not as a New Frontiers.

Between Moon Express, and Astrobotic it would seem better to simply buy the services for sample return than custom design a mission.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Blackstar on 12/20/2017 10:25 PM
We don't have the instrumentation to analyze the complex carbon compounds and related chemistry/processes on Titan.

So what you're left with is understanding topography and arrangement of the surface. Unclear that the science product helps much advancing understanding much.

Comet sample return does advance understanding however.

Any evidence to back up such strong claims?

I wouldn’t normally say this but I struggle to believe these statements are supportable especially as the mission being picked argues against them.

Please read the decadal survey.
Title: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Star One on 12/20/2017 10:29 PM
We don't have the instrumentation to analyze the complex carbon compounds and related chemistry/processes on Titan.

So what you're left with is understanding topography and arrangement of the surface. Unclear that the science product helps much advancing understanding much.

Comet sample return does advance understanding however.

Any evidence to back up such strong claims?

I wouldn’t normally say this but I struggle to believe these statements are supportable especially as the mission being picked argues against them.

Please read the decadal survey.

The problem with the Decadel survey is it’s every ten years I fail to see how something that could be considered so out of date at least in terms of the discoveries of Cassini could be at all relevant to Titan. The more things go on the more things like the Decadel survey seems as useful as the old communist five year plans. No wonder some in the wider world sometimes see NASA drowning in bureaucracy.

Perhaps it’s time that these things were planned in a more evolving way that’s more responsive to the rapidly changing scientific situation. I am used to working with longer term plans but the maximum is always five years as anything beyond this brings diminishing returns.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: robertross on 12/20/2017 11:08 PM
I'm excited that Enceladus Life Signatures and Habitability (ELSAH) and Venus In situ Composition Investigations (VICI) received funding.

I'll wait for the final choice between Dragonfly & CAESAR to clink the champagne glasses.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Star One on 12/20/2017 11:10 PM
I'm excited that Enceladus Life Signatures and Habitability (ELSAH) and Venus In situ Composition Investigations (VICI) received funding.

I'll wait for the final choice between Dragonfly & CAESAR to clink the champagne glasses.

The problem with the comet mission is though it simplifies the project by going to an already well studied target. You also have to wonder how much actual useful data it could add to such a well studied target.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: redliox on 12/21/2017 12:14 AM
CAESAR and Dragonfly. Didn't see that coming.

I have to agree although I assumed something was going to be picked for Titan, but Dragonfly definitely was the surprise.

There is some mention of supplemental funding for the Venus and Enceladus missions as studies.  I have a feeling, especially for the Venus folk, it feels like a "participation award."  This is twice in a row they've been hit, although I will admit the Lunar folks have been trying to get the Aitken Crater Sample Return done for quite a while now.

The comet mission, CEASAR, at a glance seemed like a reflight of OSIRIS-REX, but looking into the mission it's surprising for numerous reasons.  Apparently JAXA is going to supply the sample capsule and even arrange for the heat shield to jettison to avoid heating the samples; I would have expected reusing Stardust's design but interesting!  Visiting Churyumov-Gerasimenko is a surprise as opposed to a brand new comet, but Rosetta's mission proved there was a lot there and obviously provides a map to chart a landing.

Thomas Zurbuchen was right about "visionary science" regarding these choices I must say.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Blackstar on 12/21/2017 12:59 AM
The problem with the Decadel survey is it’s every ten years I fail to see how something that could be considered so out of date at least in terms of the discoveries of Cassini could be at all relevant to Titan. The more things go on the more things like the Decadel survey seems as useful as the old communist five year plans. No wonder some in the wider world sometimes see NASA drowning in bureaucracy.

Perhaps it’s time that these things were planned in a more evolving way that’s more responsive to the rapidly changing scientific situation. I am used to working with longer term plans but the maximum is always five years as anything beyond this brings diminishing returns.


I originally wrote a detailed response to this nonsense, but then deleted it. It's just not worthwhile. Continue to bask in ignorance.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Blackstar on 12/21/2017 01:04 AM
1-There is some mention of supplemental funding for the Venus and Enceladus missions as studies.  I have a feeling, especially for the Venus folk, it feels like a "participation award."  This is twice in a row they've been hit, although I will admit the Lunar folks have been trying to get the Aitken Crater Sample Return done for quite a while now.

2-The comet mission, CEASAR, at a glance seemed like a reflight of OSIRIS-REX, but looking into the mission it's surprising for numerous reasons.  Apparently JAXA is going to supply the sample capsule and even arrange for the heat shield to jettison to avoid heating the samples; I would have expected reusing Stardust's design but interesting!  Visiting Churyumov-Gerasimenko is a surprise as opposed to a brand new comet, but Rosetta's mission proved there was a lot there and obviously provides a map to chart a landing.

1-It's not a participation award. NASA doesn't give out money to make people feel good. They obviously believe that there is some technology development that could benefit from additional funding.

2-Risk reduction. Risk reduction. Risk reduction. The JAXA success with Hayabusa reduced the risk for the comet cryo sample return mission. The Rosetta mission at that comet produced an extensive understanding of the surface and topology, which reduced the risk for picking out a sampling site and getting in close. Comet cryo sample return was always going to be a difficult mission, but this is a great example where the work of NASA partners has substantively helped the proposal for a NASA mission.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: John-H on 12/21/2017 01:17 AM
They  may be trying to minimize risk. Both of these objects have good target data - from European probes.

John
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: hop on 12/21/2017 02:23 AM
You also have to wonder how much actual useful data it could add to such a well studied target.
Or you can compare what has been done with lunar samples and in situ analysis by spacecraft and stop wondering.  Rosetta was an amazing mission, but a few days of off-nominal lander operations can't produce anything like what  labs on Earth will be able to do with cryogenic samples. People are still doing productive work with Apollo samples today, using techniques that weren't even imagined when the samples were collected.

It would certainly be nice to get Rosetta level reconnaissance of a different comet along with sample return, but that's quite distinct from the science value of the returned samples themselves.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Dalhousie on 12/21/2017 02:38 AM
Rosetta was an amazing mission, but a few days of off-nominal lander operations... 

I think you have forgotten for than two years of close range observations by the main spacecraft.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: hop on 12/21/2017 02:50 AM
I think you have forgotten for than two years of close range observations by the main spacecraft.
No. I was referring specifically to surface sample analysis.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: redliox on 12/21/2017 03:24 AM
I think you have forgotten for than two years of close range observations by the main spacecraft.
No. I was referring specifically to surface sample analysis.

Poor Phillae did have a hard time.  If CAESAR flies it would almost make up for what the poor lander was unable to achieve.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Blackstar on 12/21/2017 04:01 AM
If CAESAR flies it would almost make up for what the poor lander was unable to achieve.

Huh?

Sample return is far far FAR more valuable than in situ data. If CAESAR is successful, it will be a tremendous scientific accomplishment. Squyres is aiming high.
Title: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Star One on 12/21/2017 07:30 AM
The problem with the Decadel survey is it’s every ten years I fail to see how something that could be considered so out of date at least in terms of the discoveries of Cassini could be at all relevant to Titan. The more things go on the more things like the Decadel survey seems as useful as the old communist five year plans. No wonder some in the wider world sometimes see NASA drowning in bureaucracy.

Perhaps it’s time that these things were planned in a more evolving way that’s more responsive to the rapidly changing scientific situation. I am used to working with longer term plans but the maximum is always five years as anything beyond this brings diminishing returns.


I originally wrote a detailed response to this nonsense, but then deleted it. It's just not worthwhile. Continue to bask in ignorance.

In recent years I’ve been working with a lot of questioning of existing systems and how they work, plus those who work within them and how they can be part of a outdated system even if unintentionally.

Has anyone genuinely questioned if the existing system is fit for purpose, is the system reviewed regularly, does the system still fit within the goals of the organisation employing it? Have any of these questions been asked about the Decadel survey? If not why not?
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Blackstar on 12/21/2017 12:05 PM
The problem with the Decadel survey is it’s every ten years I fail to see how something that could be considered so out of date at least in terms of the discoveries of Cassini could be at all relevant to Titan. The more things go on the more things like the Decadel survey seems as useful as the old communist five year plans. No wonder some in the wider world sometimes see NASA drowning in bureaucracy.

Perhaps it’s time that these things were planned in a more evolving way that’s more responsive to the rapidly changing scientific situation. I am used to working with longer term plans but the maximum is always five years as anything beyond this brings diminishing returns.


I originally wrote a detailed response to this nonsense, but then deleted it. It's just not worthwhile. Continue to bask in ignorance.

In recent years I’ve been working with a lot of questioning of existing systems and how they work, plus those who work within them and how they can be part of a outdated system even if unintentionally.

Has anyone genuinely questioned if the existing system is fit for purpose, is the system reviewed regularly, does the system still fit within the goals of the organisation employing it? Have any of these questions been asked about the Decadel survey? If not why not?

Yes they have. Go look it up.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: robertross on 12/21/2017 12:25 PM
I'm excited that Enceladus Life Signatures and Habitability (ELSAH) and Venus In situ Composition Investigations (VICI) received funding.

I'll wait for the final choice between Dragonfly & CAESAR to clink the champagne glasses.

The problem with the comet mission is though it simplifies the project by going to an already well studied target. You also have to wonder how much actual useful data it could add to such a well studied target.

Both missions have great merit. I wish we had the money to approve most of the missions under consideration, but we are lucky to at least have an opportunity to do 'something' (except sit here, look up at the stars, and simply wish).

My one concern is the time frame. Launching in 2025 after an announcement by 2019? Seems like a rushed paced.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Blackstar on 12/21/2017 01:13 PM
A more detailed look at Dragonfly:

http://dragonfly.jhuapl.edu/docs/DragonflyTechDigestAPL.pdf

Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Lar on 12/21/2017 01:27 PM
Yes they have. Go look it up.

Maybe you could give us a slightly better clue?

I tried "decadal survey effectiveness" https://www.google.com/search?q=Decadal+survey+effectiveness&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8 and got a LOT of returns... .winnowing if one has no background might not be trivial...

However, do you think this book is a good one to review ?  "The Space Science Decadal Surveys: Lessons Learned and Best Practices"  https://books.google.com/books?isbn=0309377382

It doesn't appear to be free so one would have to be fairly devoted to the question to pursue it further on the off chance it was a good fit. ... but the frontispiece says the report it is based on is available free of charge from www.nap.edu
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: UltraViolet9 on 12/21/2017 02:34 PM

The NRC's decadal surveys are supplemented by smaller mid-term reviews.  So the direction of the various space sciences and the progress of NASA and other agencies against that direction is reviewed every 5 years.

Planetary science happens to be in the middle of its mid-term review as we type, which Blackstar is no doubt quite busy with:

http://sites.nationalacademies.org/ssb/currentprojects/ssb_177619 (http://sites.nationalacademies.org/ssb/currentprojects/ssb_177619)

It's easy to criticize a priority-setting process when our various pet projects aren't taken up as priorities by the larger community or government.  But having worked the decadal survey and mid-term review processes in a past life and been a customer for their products in an even earlier life, these processes are very well disciplined.  They are one of a few keys to why the space sciences are, as Augustine put it, NASA's "crown jewels".

It is unfortunate there is not a similar process collecting, informing, and helping set priorities in other parts of the agency, especially human space flight.

It would be very healthy if organizations other than the US federal government (and other national governments) funded space science research and missions.  More opportunities for good science is a good thing.  Towards that end, I would suggest visiting and potentially donating to the non-profit Boldly Go Institute or one of its space science missions, like SCIM (Mars atmospheric sample return) or Project Blue (imaging exoplanets at Alpha Centauri):

http://www.boldlygo.org/ (http://www.boldlygo.org/)
http://scim-mars.org/ (http://scim-mars.org/)
http://www.projectblue.org/ (http://www.projectblue.org/)

If folks don't think there are enough NASA space science missions or that they not responsive enough to certain priorities, supporting Boldly Go is a very direct and meaningful way to enlarge the pot for space science, address those issues, and make positive change.  (I am not affiliated in any way with Boldly Go.)

Hope this is helpful.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Star One on 12/21/2017 03:12 PM
The problem with the Decadel survey is it’s every ten years I fail to see how something that could be considered so out of date at least in terms of the discoveries of Cassini could be at all relevant to Titan. The more things go on the more things like the Decadel survey seems as useful as the old communist five year plans. No wonder some in the wider world sometimes see NASA drowning in bureaucracy.

Perhaps it’s time that these things were planned in a more evolving way that’s more responsive to the rapidly changing scientific situation. I am used to working with longer term plans but the maximum is always five years as anything beyond this brings diminishing returns.


I originally wrote a detailed response to this nonsense, but then deleted it. It's just not worthwhile. Continue to bask in ignorance.

In recent years I’ve been working with a lot of questioning of existing systems and how they work, plus those who work within them and how they can be part of a outdated system even if unintentionally.

Has anyone genuinely questioned if the existing system is fit for purpose, is the system reviewed regularly, does the system still fit within the goals of the organisation employing it? Have any of these questions been asked about the Decadel survey? If not why not?

Yes they have. Go look it up.

It’s not up to me to defend your viewpoint.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Blackstar on 12/21/2017 03:36 PM

The NRC's decadal reviews are supplemented by smaller mid-term reviews.  So the direction of the various space sciences and the progress of NASA and other agencies against that direction is reviewed every 5 years.

Planetary science happens to be in the middle of its mid-term review as we type, which Blackstar is no doubt quite busy with:


Considering that I'm the study director, yeah, I'm a bit busy with it.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Blackstar on 12/21/2017 03:44 PM
However, do you think this book is a good one to review ?  "The Space Science Decadal Surveys: Lessons Learned and Best Practices"  https://books.google.com/books?isbn=0309377382

It doesn't appear to be free so one would have to be fairly devoted to the question to pursue it further on the off chance it was a good fit. ... but the frontispiece says the report it is based on is available free of charge from www.nap.edu

That's the one. It's available for free here:

https://www.nap.edu/catalog/21788/the-space-science-decadal-surveys-lessons-learned-and-best-practices

Also Joe Alexander's recent monograph on science advice to NASA has an entire chapter on it.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Archibald on 12/21/2017 05:33 PM
And South Pole - Aitken lost again.  :(  As usual since 2000.

That mission is really unfortunate.

I was hoping it would be in the selection space. But landing on the lunar farside is challenging. Not impossible, but maybe they just cannot fit it into the cost cap.

The Chinese may not have to worry about a cost cap.

You nailed it pretty well. Propaganda and dictatorships don't care about money, they just care about, well, propaganda. See the Soviet Union and well, the PRC is kind of modern offspring of that.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Archibald on 12/21/2017 05:40 PM
Quote
Dragonfly

Dragonfly is a drone-like rotorcraft that would explore the prebiotic chemistry and habitability of dozens of sites on Saturn's moon Titan, an ocean world in our solar system. Elizabeth Turtle from the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Maryland, is the lead investigator, with APL providing project management.

A drone flying through Titan atmosphere. That's one hell of a bold mission  concept, but probably extremely challenging.
Dare I say, that's the kind of hare-brained concept Elon Musk certainly enjoys (this is half serious. Don't take it seriously. Unlike the "Tesla to Mars" siliness and hype, Dragonfly had serious scientific credentials)

https://spaceflightnow.com/2017/12/20/nuclear-powered-titan-drone-comet-sampler-picked-as-finalists-for-new-nasa-mission/

And nuclear with that (RTG would be a more appropriate word, damn clickbait headline)

A nuclear powered drone flying over Titan. I will tell you, Arthur C. Clarke would have loved that mission. Carl Sagan, too.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Archibald on 12/21/2017 05:51 PM
Quote
In recent years I’ve been working with a lot of questioning of existing systems and how they work, plus those who work within them and how they can be part of a outdated system even if unintentionally.

Has anyone genuinely questioned if the existing system is fit for purpose, is the system reviewed regularly, does the system still fit within the goals of the organisation employing it? Have any of these questions been asked about the Decadel survey? If not why not?

You do realize you are talking about the U.S National Academy of Sciences, which has Nobel Prizes among its members ? (an example- they had Charles H. Townes a while back, a man that got a Nobel Prize in 1966 for the invention of MASER)
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: vjkane on 12/21/2017 06:06 PM
There's been a thread here questioning the Decadal Survey process and whether or not it should be more frequent.  If you look at the last two Survey reports, the key questions and key recommendations have been very stable.  The biggest change (Blackstar or other might think of additional ones) was adding a Trojan asteroid mission to the New Frontiers candidate list to address the models of planetary migration in the early solar system that had come to maturity in the period of the 2000s.

Blackstar and I have had email conversations about whether there should be a mechanism to *tweak* the Survey mid-term or not either to address a compelling new finding or groundbreaking new concepts/technologies that made a previously unaffordable high priority question addressable or not.  The problem is that that can become a slippery slope because different interest groups would interpret what is compelling or truly groundbreaking.  As a citizen, I'm happy that NASA added ocean worlds, but as a former manager of planning complex and expensive roadmaps, I'd have been happier if there had been a more formal process and review followed.  The Decadal loses much of its power if changes can be made arbitrarily.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: vjkane on 12/21/2017 06:09 PM
It's interesting that what are potentially the two most complex proposals made it to the finals. My congratulations to the teams that proposed them -- their proposals must have been stellar.

In doing my research for my blog posts on the New Frontiers proposals, I learned how complex gathering a sample from some depth and potentially through a hard crust would be. There's also the problem of trying to preserve -- essentially keep frozen -- the volatiles in the sample. One of the three teams proposed not to try, and instead measure the volatiles through instrumentation. CAESAR apparently would return the volatiles (as would have the other proposal to return samples from P67). By comparison, OSIRIS-REx is seeking to collect "just" surface samples from a body not believed to have volatiles at the surface, and its sampling mechanisms are complex.

I liked Dragonfly from the time I first saw it, but feared it would be to risky for selection -- autonomous flight over poorly mapped terrain, uncertain surface conditions, and the like. That proposal must have been incredible to address those concerns.

My only concern about the finalists is that I'll be in my young 80s by the time they either begin exploring Titan or return a sample. The invention of warp drive would be much appreciated.  ;)
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: zubenelgenubi on 12/21/2017 06:19 PM
re: Lunar South Pole-Aitken Basin Sample Return--another means to accomplish it?

Personally i'm a little disappointed a more astrobiology-relevant mission to Enceladus wasn't selected.  It is very encouraging however to see technologically innovative missions get through.

And South Pole - Aitken lost again.  :(  As usual since 2000.

That mission is really unfortunate.

If the Deep Space Gateway happens I can see a similar mission with mix of human/robotic exploration being approved, perhaps led by an international partner, so I'm sure aspects of the mission will find a use even if not as a New Frontiers.

[visualize a big IF here] IF some funding actually accompanies the current directive to return humans to the Moon (example: funding DSG),

THEN is it possible or plausible that this mission might be partially funded via a NASA human lunar exploration program?

(IIRC, Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter was funded via Constellation.)

(Admittedly, my hypothetical could be a pipe dream hallucinated during a pipe dream.)
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Space Ghost 1962 on 12/21/2017 06:38 PM
Dare I say, that's the kind of hare-brained concept Elon Musk certainly enjoys...

A nuclear powered drone flying over Titan. I will tell you, Arthur C. Clarke would have loved that mission. Carl Sagan, too.
Can't let that stand.

While all three appreciate vision and risk, two are scientists by training/education, and the third was an engineer who appreciated functionality of the endeavor. Know for a fact that Sagan would be more interested in the science product than the vision.

Understanding planets, solar system in general, actually advances Musk's agenda as much or more than pure vision. There's likely more of Mars in substance on that comet than on Titan, and the high quality analysis of it on Earth has a direct benefit as opposed to indirect evidence acquired on site.

Like the platform of the heli. However, the instrument package on the heli and what it sends back is the issue. (The instruments don't inform on long chain hydrocarbons/origins, like those instruments the petrochemical industry uses to answer related questions. Also, like the heli, unflown.)

While the comet sample return means you use the best instruments ever on the comet's samples.

(Like isotope ratios, residual/trace analysis, fingerprints of possible organic precursors to life, stuff that may have landed on Mars/Earth/Venus and thus might still be present in some form.) All that pesky science stuff that might help with ISRU, planetary formation, planetary exploration. As excellent science products do.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: AegeanBlue on 12/21/2017 06:55 PM
I was wondering what the platform carrying Dragonfly through the solar system looks like. Is it going to be something simple and jettisonable like the carrier of Curiosity or is it something complex that can have an afterlife?
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: TrevorMonty on 12/21/2017 07:11 PM
re: Lunar South Pole-Aitken Basin Sample Return--another means to accomplish it?

Personally i'm a little disappointed a more astrobiology-relevant mission to Enceladus wasn't selected.  It is very encouraging however to see technologically innovative missions get through.

And South Pole - Aitken lost again.  :(  As usual since 2000.

That mission is really unfortunate.

If the Deep Space Gateway happens I can see a similar mission with mix of human/robotic exploration being approved, perhaps led by an international partner, so I'm sure aspects of the mission will find a use even if not as a New Frontiers.

[visualize a big IF here] IF some funding actually accompanies the current directive to return humans to the Moon (example: funding DSG),

THEN is it possible or plausible that this mission might be partially funded via a NASA human lunar exploration program?

(IIRC, Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter was funded via Constellation.)

(Admittedly, my hypothetical could be a pipe dream hallucinated during a pipe dream.)
One of selling points of this mission was developing 1000kg cargo lander. With all commercial cargo landers coming online soon their is no need for NASA to develop another cargo lander.

Moon Express will be offering commercial sample return service in next few years. Allowing MX to return samples to DSH would increase sample size and lower mission risk. The earth return capsule adds risk, mass and cost.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: matthewkantar on 12/21/2017 07:11 PM
I am geting a kick out of informing not-so-tuned-in friends about this mission. NASA jus approved a plan to send an autonomous nuclear powered electric helicopter to fly over lakes of cryogenic methane on a distant world. For the average person, even an  educated one, this is indistinguishable from scifi. The science is compelling, but the spectacle is off the charts.

Matthew
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Archibald on 12/21/2017 07:50 PM
Dare I say, that's the kind of hare-brained concept Elon Musk certainly enjoys...

A nuclear powered drone flying over Titan. I will tell you, Arthur C. Clarke would have loved that mission. Carl Sagan, too.
Can't let that stand.


If you had read my post entirely, you would have noted this
Quote
Dare I say, that's the kind of hare-brained concept Elon Musk certainly enjoys (this is half serious. Don't take it seriously. Unlike the "Tesla to Mars" siliness and hype, Dragonfly had serious scientific credentials)

Which mean I made a distinction between Musk on one side, and Clarke / Sagan on the other.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Blackstar on 12/21/2017 08:26 PM
NASA jus approved a plan...

No. They downselected mission options. That's not the same as a go-ahead for development.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Blackstar on 12/21/2017 08:30 PM
One of selling points of this mission was developing 1000kg cargo lander. With all commercial cargo landers coming online soon their is no need for NASA to develop another cargo lander.

Moon Express will be offering commercial sample return service in next few years. Allowing MX to return samples to DSH would increase sample size and lower mission risk. The earth return capsule adds risk, mass and cost.

No. Look, it doesn't work like that. I don't understand why you guys don't get this. A few years ago a bunch of you were all saying that NASA no longer needed to develop Mars landers because SpaceX was building Red Dragon, so it was a done deal. And then Red Dragon got canceled. Why the heck would you say that these lunar landers are "going to happen" and think that you could design a program based upon that assumption?

If NASA wants to accomplish a mission, then it has to fund the hardware development to accomplish that mission, not sit back and assume that it's just going to happen by magic. Now commercial capabilities are improving, which may lower the amount of what NASA ultimately has to buy, but leaving it all to chance means that it may never happen at all. If you want to do it, you have to fund it yourself.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Blackstar on 12/21/2017 08:48 PM
[visualize a big IF here] IF some funding actually accompanies the current directive to return humans to the Moon (example: funding DSG),

THEN is it possible or plausible that this mission might be partially funded via a NASA human lunar exploration program?

(IIRC, Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter was funded via Constellation.)

(Admittedly, my hypothetical could be a pipe dream hallucinated during a pipe dream.)

It's reasonable to speculate about this, but you have to be fully aware of how the agency works, how the different components of the agency work, and why things like LRO worked. You also have to be aware that other attempts at cooperation did not pan out. For example, a few years ago when NASA's human spaceflight program was officially going to send astronauts to an asteroid, the Science Mission Directorate had a perfectly reasonable asteroid survey mission named NEOCam to offer. If the human spaceflight side had offered to throw in half the cost, I'm sure that the science side would have looked at a way to pay for the other half. But nothing ever came of that.

LRO was an exception and an example of great cooperation, but that's because it had unique synergies. The problem with South Pole Aitken Basin Sample Return is that it's purely scientific and doesn't really solve any human spaceflight objectives, unless "landing something on the Moon" is a sufficient goal.

I'd like to see NASA go in on that. The Orion-MoonRise mission proposal seemed like an interesting way to increase the amount of returned lunar sample and involve both humans and robotics in Moon exploration. But I just don't think that the human spaceflight side wants to spend any more money.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Blackstar on 12/21/2017 08:54 PM
You nailed it pretty well. Propaganda and dictatorships don't care about money, they just care about, well, propaganda. See the Soviet Union and well, the PRC is kind of modern offspring of that.

So it turns out that this is not quite true. The Chinese have to meet budget projections as well. One of my colleagues was dealing with some Chinese scientists awhile back and they were apparently bemoaning some cuts to their budgets. They are not given infinite money to do stuff.

I think that it's important to recognize that New Frontiers is a cost-capped program. That means specific things, including that stuff does not get approved that is above that cost cap. Figure that it's roughly $1 billion. That means that a proposal that comes in at $1.1 billion is going to get rejected. But maybe a SPAB sample return mission is a $1.1 billion mission. Maybe it just doesn't fit in the cost cap. My point was that the Chinese may have a different cost cap ($1.2 billion?), or no clearly-defined cost cap (but if they overrun their cost projections, they could get canceled).

Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Star One on 12/21/2017 08:57 PM
There's been a thread here questioning the Decadal Survey process and whether or not it should be more frequent.  If you look at the last two Survey reports, the key questions and key recommendations have been very stable.  The biggest change (Blackstar or other might think of additional ones) was adding a Trojan asteroid mission to the New Frontiers candidate list to address the models of planetary migration in the early solar system that had come to maturity in the period of the 2000s.

Blackstar and I have had email conversations about whether there should be a mechanism to *tweak* the Survey mid-term or not either to address a compelling new finding or groundbreaking new concepts/technologies that made a previously unaffordable high priority question addressable or not.  The problem is that that can become a slippery slope because different interest groups would interpret what is compelling or truly groundbreaking.  As a citizen, I'm happy that NASA added ocean worlds, but as a former manager of planning complex and expensive roadmaps, I'd have been happier if there had been a more formal process and review followed.  The Decadal loses much of its power if changes can be made arbitrarily.

Thank you for taking the time actually responding on this.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Star One on 12/21/2017 09:06 PM
One of selling points of this mission was developing 1000kg cargo lander. With all commercial cargo landers coming online soon their is no need for NASA to develop another cargo lander.

Moon Express will be offering commercial sample return service in next few years. Allowing MX to return samples to DSH would increase sample size and lower mission risk. The earth return capsule adds risk, mass and cost.

No. Look, it doesn't work like that. I don't understand why you guys don't get this. A few years ago a bunch of you were all saying that NASA no longer needed to develop Mars landers because SpaceX was building Red Dragon, so it was a done deal. And then Red Dragon got canceled. Why the heck would you say that these lunar landers are "going to happen" and think that you could design a program based upon that assumption?

If NASA wants to accomplish a mission, then it has to fund the hardware development to accomplish that mission, not sit back and assume that it's just going to happen by magic. Now commercial capabilities are improving, which may lower the amount of what NASA ultimately has to buy, but leaving it all to chance means that it may never happen at all. If you want to do it, you have to fund it yourself.

It’s pointless you saying this as I can assure as far as the wider audience out there that take an interest in space this argument is already lost with Space X’s PR being most effective. Combined with the idea that tax dollars on space bad private money good.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: gongora on 12/21/2017 09:31 PM
One of selling points of this mission was developing 1000kg cargo lander. With all commercial cargo landers coming online soon their is no need for NASA to develop another cargo lander.

Moon Express will be offering commercial sample return service in next few years. Allowing MX to return samples to DSH would increase sample size and lower mission risk. The earth return capsule adds risk, mass and cost.

No. Look, it doesn't work like that. I don't understand why you guys don't get this. A few years ago a bunch of you were all saying that NASA no longer needed to develop Mars landers because SpaceX was building Red Dragon, so it was a done deal. And then Red Dragon got canceled. Why the heck would you say that these lunar landers are "going to happen" and think that you could design a program based upon that assumption?

If NASA wants to accomplish a mission, then it has to fund the hardware development to accomplish that mission, not sit back and assume that it's just going to happen by magic. Now commercial capabilities are improving, which may lower the amount of what NASA ultimately has to buy, but leaving it all to chance means that it may never happen at all. If you want to do it, you have to fund it yourself.

It’s pointless you saying this as I can assure as far as the wider audience out there that take an interest in space this argument is already lost with Space X’s PR being most effective. Combined with the idea that tax dollars on space bad private money good.

It's pointless to discuss reality because a company's PR is good?  Huh?
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Star One on 12/21/2017 10:06 PM
One of selling points of this mission was developing 1000kg cargo lander. With all commercial cargo landers coming online soon their is no need for NASA to develop another cargo lander.

Moon Express will be offering commercial sample return service in next few years. Allowing MX to return samples to DSH would increase sample size and lower mission risk. The earth return capsule adds risk, mass and cost.

No. Look, it doesn't work like that. I don't understand why you guys don't get this. A few years ago a bunch of you were all saying that NASA no longer needed to develop Mars landers because SpaceX was building Red Dragon, so it was a done deal. And then Red Dragon got canceled. Why the heck would you say that these lunar landers are "going to happen" and think that you could design a program based upon that assumption?

If NASA wants to accomplish a mission, then it has to fund the hardware development to accomplish that mission, not sit back and assume that it's just going to happen by magic. Now commercial capabilities are improving, which may lower the amount of what NASA ultimately has to buy, but leaving it all to chance means that it may never happen at all. If you want to do it, you have to fund it yourself.

It’s pointless you saying this as I can assure as far as the wider audience out there that take an interest in space this argument is already lost with Space X’s PR being most effective. Combined with the idea that tax dollars on space bad private money good.

It's pointless to discuss reality because a company's PR is good?  Huh?

If anyone is not engaging with the reality in this case it’s you. I am not normally one to come out swinging on behalf of companies like Space X. But in this case some in the so called old space realm seem to have their heads stuck in the ground. It didn’t take me long to see plenty of comment online that NASA shouldn’t be involved in missions to comets as such objects should be left in the realm of the commercial sector to deal with so to speak.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Archibald on 12/22/2017 07:09 AM
Quote
One of selling points of this mission was developing 1000kg cargo lander. With all commercial cargo landers coming online soon their is no need for NASA to develop another cargo lander.

Moon Express will be offering commercial sample return service in next few years. Allowing MX to return samples to DSH would increase sample size and lower mission risk. The earth return capsule adds risk, mass and cost.

Quote
No. Look, it doesn't work like that. I don't understand why you guys don't get this. A few years ago a bunch of you were all saying that NASA no longer needed to develop Mars landers because SpaceX was building Red Dragon, so it was a done deal. And then Red Dragon got canceled. Why the heck would you say that these lunar landers are "going to happen" and think that you could design a program based upon that assumption?

If NASA wants to accomplish a mission, then it has to fund the hardware development to accomplish that mission, not sit back and assume that it's just going to happen by magic. Now commercial capabilities are improving, which may lower the amount of what NASA ultimately has to buy, but leaving it all to chance means that it may never happen at all. If you want to do it, you have to fund it yourself.

My opinion is a mix of the two above.

Fact: Google lunar X-prize (or whatever the name is) had a deadline (was it 2012 ?) that has been pushed back two or three times just because the private companies found so hard to design a lunar lander. Many of them have gone bankrupt.
As of today there are barely two serious contenders which face further difficulties, one of them being finding a rocket to launch the lander at a reasonable price, either as a primary or secondary payload.

Quote
Moon Express will be offering commercial sample return service in next few years.

Moon Express, then let's talk about them. There are many things that can go wrong with that company alone.
Such as:
1) it goes bankrupt like XCOR. Surely, XCOR was building their Lynx, they had most of it completed... and they went belly up.
2) the first lunar mander is lost in a mishap (hello, Spaceship 2).
3) they manage to land safely. Fine. So what ? people lose interest like happened to Apollo
4) Or sample return proves to be a money pit, and the company goes bankrupt after the first landing

Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Archibald on 12/22/2017 07:20 AM
Quote
It’s pointless you saying this as I can assure as far as the wider audience out there that take an interest in space this argument is already lost with Space X’s PR being most effective. Combined with the idea that tax dollars on space bad private money good.

Quote
If anyone is not engaging with the reality in this case it’s you. I am not normally one to come out swinging on behalf of companies like Space X. But in this case some in the so called old space realm seem to have their heads stuck in the ground. It didn’t take me long to see plenty of comment online that NASA shouldn’t be involved in missions to comets as such objects should be left in the realm of the commercial sector to deal with so to speak.

Fallacies, fallacies, and more failed logics. What the "wider audience" think (hype, hype, hype more) should not drive the space program (nor politics, see the president whose initials are D.J.T).
Not at all.
Those arguments are really tiring.

Quote
I am geting a kick out of informing not-so-tuned-in friends about this mission. NASA just approved a plan to send an autonomous nuclear powered electric helicopter to fly over lakes of cryogenic methane on a distant world. For the average person, even an  educated one, this is indistinguishable from scifi. The science is compelling, but the spectacle is off the charts.

When I heard about it yesterday, I had the vision of NASA thinking exactly what you wrote in your comment, and adding
 "IN YOUR FACE, ELON MUSK"
(that is, so much for NASA being the so called old space realm seem to have their heads stuck in the ground.)

WE ARE GOING TO FLY A NUCLEAR POWERED HELICOPTER ACROSS THE SKIES OF TITAN. AIN'T THAT COOL  ? Even freakkin' Elon Musk can't do that.

And by the way, this is no PR or hype: we are doing this for science.

Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Archibald on 12/22/2017 07:29 AM
You nailed it pretty well. Propaganda and dictatorships don't care about money, they just care about, well, propaganda. See the Soviet Union and well, the PRC is kind of modern offspring of that.

So it turns out that this is not quite true. The Chinese have to meet budget projections as well. One of my colleagues was dealing with some Chinese scientists awhile back and they were apparently bemoaning some cuts to their budgets. They are not given infinite money to do stuff.


So much for that much hyped, Chicken-little "the sky is falling" fear of a Chinese ogre with unlimited budgets beating NASA into submission, and humiliating America.
 Looks like the budget wasn't unlimited after all.
Nowadays China has been replaced by SpaceX, and the hype is continuing. Some decades ago it was the Soviets.
Maybe NASA needs a "best ennemy" at least in the eye of the media, or politicians.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: jarnu on 12/22/2017 08:55 AM
Quote
WE ARE GOING TO FLY A NUCLEAR POWERED HELICOPTER ACROSS THE SKIES OF TITAN. AIN'T THAT COOL  ? Even freakkin' Elon Musk can't do that.

It is my understanding no private company can have RTG or any other nuclear fueled device. By law. So, what's your point? Is this era only a sort of competition in social media? Elon needs to reach the public using his ways and a strategy he thinks fits the intended public and company goals. So a Tesla is going to a solar orbit. NASA is a government agency that has a completely different set of goals, procedures, constraints, allowances, privileges, etc. In fact one is the customer of the other and they share knowledge to build better hardware as a common need.

Since when comic books, Hollywood movies and poor, empty, hollowed people and public attitudes, dominate the communication, decision making process or important strategy decisions?

I'm sure two astounding projects are being put forward. And that as a minimum 'filter' to get approval to the next phase. Other constraints, tinted with politics, prestige, familiarity with the team responsible for the project, etc. should be also responsible for the decision. As it happen every single time with any other research project world-wide in any field.
Title: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Star One on 12/22/2017 11:57 AM
Quote
It’s pointless you saying this as I can assure as far as the wider audience out there that take an interest in space this argument is already lost with Space X’s PR being most effective. Combined with the idea that tax dollars on space bad private money good.

Quote
If anyone is not engaging with the reality in this case it’s you. I am not normally one to come out swinging on behalf of companies like Space X. But in this case some in the so called old space realm seem to have their heads stuck in the ground. It didn’t take me long to see plenty of comment online that NASA shouldn’t be involved in missions to comets as such objects should be left in the realm of the commercial sector to deal with so to speak.

Fallacies, fallacies, and more failed logics. What the "wider audience" think (hype, hype, hype more) should not drive the space program (nor politics, see the president whose initials are D.J.T).
Not at all.
Those arguments are really tiring.

Quote
I am geting a kick out of informing not-so-tuned-in friends about this mission. NASA just approved a plan to send an autonomous nuclear powered electric helicopter to fly over lakes of cryogenic methane on a distant world. For the average person, even an  educated one, this is indistinguishable from scifi. The science is compelling, but the spectacle is off the charts.

When I heard about it yesterday, I had the vision of NASA thinking exactly what you wrote in your comment, and adding
 "IN YOUR FACE, ELON MUSK"
(that is, so much for NASA being the so called old space realm seem to have their heads stuck in the ground.)

WE ARE GOING TO FLY A NUCLEAR POWERED HELICOPTER ACROSS THE SKIES OF TITAN. AIN'T THAT COOL  ? Even freakkin' Elon Musk can't do that.

And by the way, this is no PR or hype: we are doing this for science.

The people saying the things I reported above online are often the very same ones who support the current occupant of the Oval Office. Who do you think any politician is going to take most note of the often derided experts or the politicians supporters. I am not saying it’s necessarily a good thing, just how things are out there.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Blackstar on 12/22/2017 01:33 PM
Man, the discussion here got really stupid and pointless.

Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Nomadd on 12/22/2017 02:14 PM
Man, the discussion here got really stupid and pointless.

I thought it had been decided to keep reality out of it.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: UltraViolet9 on 12/22/2017 04:05 PM

Back on topic, the technical risks being taken with the selection of CAESAR and Dragonfly may partly be a reflection of Zurbuchen's background.  He held a dual professorship in space science and aerospace engineering at the U. of Michigan and founded their entrepreneurship center.  Zurbuchen's engineering/innovation exposure may have given him more tolerance for proposals with greater technical risk and a desire for more innovative proposals than an AA with a stricter science background.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Blackstar on 12/22/2017 09:43 PM

Back on topic, the technical risks being taken with the selection of CAESAR and Dragonfly may partly be a reflection of Zurbuchen's background.  He held a dual professorship in space science and aerospace engineering at the U. of Michigan and founded their entrepreneurship center.  Zurbuchen's engineering/innovation exposure may have given him more tolerance for proposals with greater technical risk and a desire for more innovative proposals than an AA with a stricter science background.


Well...

The mission proposals never would have gotten that far if the review committee did not consider them selectable. The AA doesn't just roll dice, he has to take the results of a detailed review process. The fact that these missions got to this point is a stamp of approval from the review team.

It's possible that the review team looked at the 12 proposals and winnowed them down to, say, 4 that were "selectable" and sent them forward, then the AA picked 2 out of those 4 based upon various factors.

Note also my post up-thread about how the CAESAR mission has reduced its risk by: 1-going to a pre-mapped comet, and 2-using a proven reentry vehicle that apparently solves the heating problem.

Something that I noticed during the press conference is that Squyres never mentioned the sampling mechanism. It may be based upon OSIRIS-REx hardware in some ways. Even if the actual sampling mechanism is not, then the sampling arm and other parts and equipment may be based upon OREX. All of that could count as risk reduction, thus making this seem like a non-technically risky mission.

Comet samples kept at cryo temperatures are a big deal for the sampling community. They really want that for a lot of reasons. And it's going to really challenge the sampling community--how do you get data out of the sample without changing it by heating it up? That's exactly the kind of challenge that lots of scientists salivate over.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: UltraViolet9 on 12/22/2017 11:49 PM
The mission proposals never would have gotten that far if the review committee did not consider them selectable.

Sure, in order to be selectable, these two proposals were judged to be implementable.  And we can infer what may have helped them in that evaluation, like components and target data from prior missions.

But these proposals also appeared to be two of the most technically challenging or complex missions of the NF-4 proposals.  And therefore they were probably the two most technically challenging or complex of the selectable NF-4 proposals.

Having worked with a couple prior AAs when they were AAs, I think another AA would probably have steered away from the technical challenges of these two missions within the pool of selectable missions.

Having worked with him a little before he was AA and knowing his background, I think Zurbuchen's broader exposure in engineering and technology may not have scared him away from those technical challenges, or even steered him towards them.

The complex sample return of CAESAR and the atmospheric rover of Dragonfly seem discontinuous with the flybys, orbiters, and simpler sample returns of prior New Frontiers and Discovery selections.

The background of the current AA may have something to do with that.

I'm not passing judgment either way.  Just making an observation that the person who occupies the AA seat may make a substantive difference in the types of proposals that are selected.

Quote
Something that I noticed during the press conference is that Squyres never mentioned the sampling mechanism. It may be based upon OSIRIS-REx hardware in some ways. Even if the actual sampling mechanism is not, then the sampling arm and other parts and equipment may be based upon OREX. All of that could count as risk reduction, thus making this seem like a non-technically risky mission.

The prior art on the O-REx sampler probably reduced development costs and helped CAESAR fit within the NF-4 cost cap.  But since O-REx won't encounter Bennu for some time, that sampler may not have counted for a lot of risk reduction in the evaluation.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Blackstar on 12/23/2017 12:51 AM
The prior art on the O-REx sampler probably reduced development costs and helped CAESAR fit within the NF-4 cost cap.  But since O-REx won't encounter Bennu for some time, that sampler may not have counted for a lot of risk reduction in the evaluation.

OREX tested the heck out of that sampling mechanism. But I don't think a comet can use the same mechanism. I think the risk reduction came in all the other things, like the arm and rendezvous/sampling. If you look at the CAESAR image, it appears that the solar panels are angled backwards for the approach.

I think that when you list all the risk aspects of the CAESAR mission, you can check a lot of them off. Heck, the biggest two were the reentry vehicle and the sampling mechanism, and they appear to have completely checked off the first, and probably checked off much of the second. Detailed mapping and knowledge of the target is now a non-risk because of Rosetta. Double heck, using the JAXA reentry vehicle probably saved a lot of money.

Compare that to the risks for a Venus lander, or even SPABSR, which has the whole issue of how to communicate with a lander on the far side, and CAESAR may have ended up as lower risk than a number of other proposals.

The sampling mechanism, however, could still be higher risk. It will be interesting to learn what it is and how they tested it.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Fequalsma on 12/23/2017 08:50 AM
Selected, not downselected - yet. Downselect happens after the phase A.
F=ma


No. They downselected mission options. That's not the same as a go-ahead for development.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Lar on 12/23/2017 02:01 PM
Is there anything in between "We have to design ALL the hardware ourselves" and "Just hang back and let commercial do it"? Someting like an RFP for a lander that can land X tonnes on bodies that meet certain specifications with a guaranteed purchase of N of them over Z years.... that would let commercial do some of the work without just assuming miracles happen?
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: ccdengr on 12/23/2017 03:58 PM
Is there anything in between "We have to design ALL the hardware ourselves" and "Just hang back and let commercial do it"?
You do realize that for many planetary missions the spacecraft is entirely built by a commercial company (e.g., Insight was built by Lockheed Martin.)  And many of the payloads are built commercially too.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Blackstar on 12/23/2017 06:02 PM
Is there anything in between "We have to design ALL the hardware ourselves" and "Just hang back and let commercial do it"?
You do realize that for many planetary missions the spacecraft is entirely built by a commercial company (e.g., Insight was built by Lockheed Martin.)  And many of the payloads are built commercially too.


He doesn't understand it.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: UltraViolet9 on 12/23/2017 06:26 PM
Is there anything in between "We have to design ALL the hardware ourselves" and "Just hang back and let commercial do it"? Someting like an RFP for a lander that can land X tonnes on bodies that meet certain specifications with a guaranteed purchase of N of them over Z years.... that would let commercial do some of the work without just assuming miracles happen?

Yes.  NASA has Other Transaction Authority (OTA), which it implements through various types of Space Act Agreements (SAAs).  The kind of SAA for this would be Funded SAAs, which means NASA shares some of the costs with the performers.  NASA could go out with a Broad Agency Accouncement (BAA), asking for a milestone-driven demonstration of capabilities against a set of lunar transportation needs (various landing sites, cargo sizes and types, instrument types, etc.). 

I helped start COTS and create the model above.  But we had an ongoing ISS program with well understood transportation needs.  The problem is the human side of NASA doesn't know what it wants to do on the Moon (or arguably if it's even going to the surface).  2 or 4 crew?  How often?  For how long?  Where?  What are we doing?  Lunar ice ISRU?  Low-gravity research?  Far-side radio observatory?  Who are our international partners?  What are they contributing?  Where are the transportation gaps?  What confidence do we need?  Etc.

I don't think NASA needs an established lunar base before going out with an OTA solicitation for it lunar transportation needs.  It would be stupid to do so given ongoing developments like Blue Moon and Moon Express. But the agency has to move beyond its Potemkin exploration program plan -- the plan has to be more than a heavy lifter and capsule that fly once every couple of years and a little habitat research on the side with the remaining tiny budget.  Beyond a couple salutes in the direction of the NSC and WH, there's no evidence yet that the agency is turning its ship in such a direction.  It probably can't until an Administrator is on board, and even then, it's very uncertain how much longer this Administration will be in power.

On the science/robotic side of NASA, there's just not a lot of demand at the Moon (or any particular solar system destination).  There's a decadal priority for a one-off sample return and concepts for maybe another lander mission or two percolating at the field centers.  But that's it.  Such science missions might benefit if they could buy a +1 landing from an ongoing service.  But there's not enough critical mass within the science side of NASA to justify spending to create the service in the first place.  I think it would have to start on the human space flight side of the house, assuming it gets its act together.

Another model I helped start is Centennial Challenges, NASA's technology inducement prize competition program.  We created the Lunar Lander Challenge with the X PRIZE Foundation, among other prize competitions.  The prize or even data buy model doesn't necessarily work well for the science side of NASA, where researchers, usually at universities, want to be in charge and hands-on with their instruments, data, research sites, and samples.  But it could fit well with human space flight engineers who just need low-cost ground truth on what they're dealing with.  I could see prizes, data buys, or sample buys on things like lunar ice or NEOs to feed an ISRU development program.  But like fusion and humans on Mars, ISRU always seems to be a couple decades over the horizon, at least.  It's not clear that the human side wants to do more than fund some very low-level, mid-TRL research on extraction/conversion widgets for the foreseeable future.

In short, there is some promise in these areas, but some other, bigger things have to fall into place first.  And no one knows if they will.

Hope this helps.

Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Blackstar on 12/23/2017 08:41 PM
But none of that is relevant to how the New Frontiers program is run. For New Frontiers, NASA issues an announcement of opportunity, and solicits proposals. Those proposals are made by teams led by a principal investigator. NASA selects a subset of the initial proposals for further study, awarding small study contracts (which is what they just did). Then NASA selects a finalist (they'll do that a year from now). After that, it's pretty much a traditional procurement, with the caveat that a principal investigator is in charge and this person does not have to be a civil servant. (That said, there are civil servants with management authority involved, but generally the PI is the person in charge.)
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Lar on 12/23/2017 08:59 PM
Is there anything in between "We have to design ALL the hardware ourselves" and "Just hang back and let commercial do it"?
You do realize that for many planetary missions the spacecraft is entirely built by a commercial company (e.g., Insight was built by Lockheed Martin.)  And many of the payloads are built commercially too.


He doesn't understand it.
Someone doesn't understand what I'm asking, yes. My fault for not asking clearly enough.

I am asking if it is possible to do useful science by designing the payload only, not the delivery mechanism.  We do that already for launchers, but not for cruise and not for orbiters or landers. (yes, some start from commercial buses but they are not off the shelf)

Suppose it comes to pass that one of the NASA initiatives for cargo service to Luna actually happens, and it's possible to buy "land X tonnes at location Y without subjecting it to more than these forces". At that point, does it still make sense to design and develop custom lunar landers?

If you still don't get what I am asking, do us all a favor and don't be snarky about it. (Ultraviolet9 got it just fine and was able to discuss rationally what some of the issues were without being cavalierly dismissive)
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Space Ghost 1962 on 12/23/2017 09:04 PM
The chief problem with planetary science mission rate increase is that it isn't funded by anything but government largess, when it is present. So given the few, and the intense work on even fewer making it to the pad, the economics are far from scale.

The second problem is with rarity, how do you afford the difficult/proven SC that limit the scope of such programs? LMT does it because they reapply the knowledge base for other difficult missions as a form of constant reinvestment. And Boeing doesn't even bother with that (which is why they play "second fiddle" often).

The explosion of microsats here with "newspace" doesn't help, because while they evolve fast, like insects, they don't live long enough to matter. Nor is there a cheap way to fling them at planets in bushel's  to statistically evolve them for use as a planetary science platform (like having an N km/second accelerator hanging off the ISS/DSG that could spit a 1u cubesat on a transfer orbit).

With the coming changes to NSS, it'll be difficult for LMT to maintain the same skill set, so even keeping what we have at the moment will be hard, let alone trying to add "newspace" challengers into the already marginally funded planetary spacecraft "business".

And that's not even mentioning our current limits in building spacecraft for outer planet missions, where the best we can do, built upon decades of concerted work, isn't good enough for such long lived, hostile environment, missions.

And it's also likely that government will like to fund less risky not more risky missions, for less budget.

(There are wealthy individuals that could fund some risky missions, but they have no patience/understanding for this described difficulty as well.)

But none of that is relevant to how the New Frontiers program is run. For New Frontiers, NASA issues an announcement of opportunity, and solicits proposals. Those proposals are made by teams led by a principal investigator. NASA selects a subset of the initial proposals for further study, awarding small study contracts (which is what they just did). Then NASA selects a finalist (they'll do that a year from now).

And to win, it's considerable effort on those study contracts.

Quote
After that, it's pretty much a traditional procurement, with the caveat that a principal investigator is in charge and this person does not have to be a civil servant. (That said, there are civil servants with management authority involved, but generally the PI is the person in charge.)
And those PI's are very, very dependent on good relations/understanding of those who have built prior missions.

It's really hard to do anything differently than the way prior successes have been done, largely with derivatives of prior flown instruments.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: hop on 12/23/2017 09:14 PM
I am asking if it is possible to do useful science by designing the payload only, not the delivery mechanism.
Would you say NASA designed the "delivery mechanism" for MAVEN, Osiris-REX or Juno? If so, why? If not, how does the process for those missions differ from what you are proposing?
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: ccdengr on 12/23/2017 09:24 PM
I am asking if it is possible to do useful science by designing the payload only, not the delivery mechanism.
For all the missions I've been involved with, the payload has been designed after the spacecraft, though the spacecraft specs are usually based on some kind of strawman payload.  It's not like anything is ever designed "from scratch" (there's always inheritance from earlier missions) and "off the shelf" is nearly meaningless for planetary spacecraft.

Is the way NASA selects planetary missions perfect?  No.  Is it hands-down the most structured, fair, and objective procurement mechanism in the entire US federal government?  There's a good chance it is.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Star One on 12/23/2017 11:02 PM
The chief problem with planetary science mission rate increase is that it isn't funded by anything but government largess, when it is present. So given the few, and the intense work on even fewer making it to the pad, the economics are far from scale.

The second problem is with rarity, how do you afford the difficult/proven SC that limit the scope of such programs? LMT does it because they reapply the knowledge base for other difficult missions as a form of constant reinvestment. And Boeing doesn't even bother with that (which is why they play "second fiddle" often).

The explosion of microsats here with "newspace" doesn't help, because while they evolve fast, like insects, they don't live long enough to matter. Nor is there a cheap way to fling them at planets in bushel's  to statistically evolve them for use as a planetary science platform (like having an N km/second accelerator hanging off the ISS/DSG that could spit a 1u cubesat on a transfer orbit).

With the coming changes to NSS, it'll be difficult for LMT to maintain the same skill set, so even keeping what we have at the moment will be hard, let alone trying to add "newspace" challengers into the already marginally funded planetary spacecraft "business".

And that's not even mentioning our current limits in building spacecraft for outer planet missions, where the best we can do, built upon decades of concerted work, isn't good enough for such long lived, hostile environment, missions.

And it's also likely that government will like to fund less risky not more risky missions, for less budget.

(There are wealthy individuals that could fund some risky missions, but they have no patience/understanding for this described difficulty as well.)

But none of that is relevant to how the New Frontiers program is run. For New Frontiers, NASA issues an announcement of opportunity, and solicits proposals. Those proposals are made by teams led by a principal investigator. NASA selects a subset of the initial proposals for further study, awarding small study contracts (which is what they just did). Then NASA selects a finalist (they'll do that a year from now).

And to win, it's considerable effort on those study contracts.

Quote
After that, it's pretty much a traditional procurement, with the caveat that a principal investigator is in charge and this person does not have to be a civil servant. (That said, there are civil servants with management authority involved, but generally the PI is the person in charge.)
And those PI's are very, very dependent on good relations/understanding of those who have built prior missions.

It's really hard to do anything differently than the way prior successes have been done, largely with derivatives of prior flown instruments.

You almost make it sound like it’s a dying art that may get lost in future government cutbacks and the expansion of commercial space?
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: UltraViolet9 on 12/23/2017 11:14 PM
But none of that is relevant to how the New Frontiers program is run...

Of course not.  I was responding to Lar's question, not trying to pass a test of relevancy to the New Frontiers Program.

(Incidentally, I helped initially fund the New Frontiers Program in a past life many moon ago.  I have nothing against the PI-led model and think some elements of that competitive review model should migrate up the chain to our persistently overrunning flagship programs).

To Lar's question:

I am asking if it is possible to do useful science by designing the payload only, not the delivery mechanism.

Yes.  They're called Missions of Opportunity (MOOs).  For example, ESA or JAXA is already sending Mission X to Target Y.  They have space and power available aboard their spacecraft for a US instrument.  Through the Discovery Program, PIs can apply to have their instrument become that US instrument and have NASA fund the relevant development, testing, operation, and data analysis.  There are similar MOOs for astrophysics/space physics through the Explorer Program and for Earth science, too.

If something like a Moon Express, Blue Moon, or Red Dragon established regular service to certain planetary bodies, it's not inconceivable that a PI like Alan Stern could propose through a MOO to fly their instrument on such landers (maybe repeatedly for certain kinds of data).  Stern and others certainly pushed human suborbital vehicles as research platforms, although that clearly has yet to pan out.

It's also not inconceivable that an AA like Zurbuchen would go out with an announcement specifically targeting science enabled by such commercial planetary spacecraft.  He's already testing the waters for smallsat-enabled science and data buys for Earth science through separate announcements.  If something like Moon Express or Planetary Resources succeeds, it would make sense to see if there are any good ideas for performing priority/quality planetary research on those kinds of platforms.

The big caveat in all of this is that, regardless of platform, the data itself still has to be of interest to, and a priority for, the relevant research community.  Just taking the lunar surface temperature every time Blue Moon makes a delivery to Lunar Base Alpha isn't going to be of interest to researchers and thus earn any limited NASA science dollars.  Even if a science AA is forward-leaning, it's ultimately up to the individuals in the research community to come up with the research/instrument/mission concepts.

The other important role played by suborbital missions, MOOs, and other low-cost research opportunities is training researchers, instrument-makers, and PIs for the big leagues.  You don't want put a PI with no hardware or mission experience in charge of a billion-dollar New Frontiers mission.  You want him to run a million-dollar class project or two first.

All that said, although the science side of NASA will piggyback on a non-NASA planetary lander capability -- probably including future commercial landers if they emerge -- I don't think a science AA will share the costs of developing such a lander.  There's just not enough demand from NASA science alone.  That will have to come from elsewhere, most likely the human space flight side of NASA.  Again, if it ever gets its house in order.

Is it hands-down the most structured, fair, and objective procurement mechanism in the entire US federal government?  There's a good chance it is.

I cannot agree strongly enough with this statement.  Whether they promise more efficiency, effectiveness, or just open different pathways, I think it's important to explore new ways of getting NASA's business done, including science missions and getting answers to research questions.  But I would not replace or mess in any substantive way with the Explorer, Discovery, New Frontiers, and similar programs for many years to come.  They are arguably the best-run programs at NASA and probably within the entire federal research budget.

Hope this helps.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: vjkane on 12/23/2017 11:29 PM

OREX tested the heck out of that sampling mechanism. But I don't think a comet can use the same mechanism. I think the risk reduction came in all the other things, like the arm and rendezvous/sampling. If you look at the CAESAR image, it appears that the solar panels are angled backwards for the approach.

The sampling mechanism, however, could still be higher risk. It will be interesting to learn what it is and how they tested it.
OSIRIS-REx samples directly from the surface of the asteroid.  For a comet, the sample needs to be taken some depth below the surface to get unaltered volatiles.  Based on Philae, there may also be a hard crust that needs to be punched through.  As I recall, the other two proposed comet sample return missions essentially shot a sampling mechanism into the surface (one from within an arm and the other as an actual harpoon). 
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: redliox on 12/23/2017 11:49 PM
The sampling mechanism, however, could still be higher risk. It will be interesting to learn what it is and how they tested it.
OSIRIS-REx samples directly from the surface of the asteroid.  For a comet, the sample needs to be taken some depth below the surface to get unaltered volatiles.  Based on Philae, there may also be a hard crust that needs to be punched through.  As I recall, the other two proposed comet sample return missions essentially shot a sampling mechanism into the surface (one from within an arm and the other as an actual harpoon).

Excellent point on how CAESAR might prove more challenging than face value.  Just anchoring in the micro-gravity was poor Philae's bane.  A jackhammer may as well be a pogo-stick.  The thermal probe INSIGHT is taking to Mars using some kind of self-hammering mechanism that makes me wonder, if refined for mico-gravity, if something akin to that would function for sampling comets and asteroids.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Space Ghost 1962 on 12/24/2017 12:57 AM
You almost make it sound like it’s a dying art that may get lost in future government cutbacks and the expansion of commercial space?
Spend time advancing planetary missions (absent smart scientists who sometimes insist on being stupid) and you'll find this perspective.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Blackstar on 12/24/2017 01:39 AM
OSIRIS-REx samples directly from the surface of the asteroid.  For a comet, the sample needs to be taken some depth below the surface to get unaltered volatiles.  Based on Philae, there may also be a hard crust that needs to be punched through.  As I recall, the other two proposed comet sample return missions essentially shot a sampling mechanism into the surface (one from within an arm and the other as an actual harpoon). 

When we did the decadal, I think we were aware of three potential comet sampling mechanisms, two that were public and one that was proprietary and that we were not allowed to know about, but which was provided to the cost estimators with an NDA. I can only remember one of the two public ones, and it involved a kind of wire brush and scoop mechanism--think of it like a vacuum cleaner with wire brushes up front that would scoop the sample into the collector. The strength of such a mechanism is that it works with multiple samples. If the surface is snow, it scoops it right up. If the surface is hard ice, it scrapes it up. I think the downside is that what you get is an aggregated sample (I'm probably using the wrong word). It's a collection of all the stuff mixed together. What you may want is a small ice core from one spot, and some snow from another spot, and some ice chunks from another spot. So maybe you use this method and you use some other sampling device.

With regards to the other comment about "anchoring," that may not be necessary. In talking to somebody involved in OREX (I may be misremembering this a bit because it was awhile ago) one of the things they did with OREX is worked out the relationship between the spacecraft body and the sampling arm and how to use the mass together when touching the surface. So you push the sampling mechanism against the surface and use the spacecraft mass to anchor it there, but carefully control all that so that you're balancing everything out as you do it.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Blackstar on 12/24/2017 01:49 AM
I am asking if it is possible to do useful science by designing the payload only, not the delivery mechanism.  We do that already for launchers, but not for cruise and not for orbiters or landers. (yes, some start from commercial buses but they are not off the shelf)

Suppose it comes to pass that one of the NASA initiatives for cargo service to Luna actually happens, and it's possible to buy "land X tonnes at location Y without subjecting it to more than these forces". At that point, does it still make sense to design and develop custom lunar landers?

If you still don't get what I am asking, do us all a favor and don't be snarky about it. (Ultraviolet9 got it just fine and was able to discuss rationally what some of the issues were without being cavalierly dismissive)

No, I got it. You were asking an ideologically-driven question based upon the ideology that "the government doesn't have to do everything, government is inefficient and sloppy and populated by lazy bureaucrats and commercial can do stuff better," and not understanding how New Frontiers is done in the first place. NASA is not designing the mission, a PI is. And it is up to the PI to come up with the science instruments and the mission implementation (which are tightly intertwined). That means that the PI puts together a team to design the instruments and finds a spacecraft builder to assemble the spacecraft. That spacecraft team can be a contractor like Lockheed Martin or Boeing, or even a NASA center like Goddard. It's the PI's responsibility for doing all this stuff. (Recognizing that the target list is prioritized at the beginning of the competition.)

This is the science section and the New Frontiers thread, so I thought I'd keep the discussion to New Frontiers.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Blackstar on 12/24/2017 01:58 AM
And to win, it's considerable effort on those study contracts.

Seven years ago a little bird who worked at JPL told me that they spent on average $500K per Discovery proposal and $750K per New Frontiers proposal. I'm sure it's considerably higher now. If you go back and count how many JPL Discovery proposals there were in the last round, you get a sense of how much internal money JPL spent. That's not counting all the other participants who are doing things like the instrument proposals. I'll just ballpark it and figure that each New Frontiers proposal probably costs $1.5 million to put forth, and each Discovery proposal is probably a million dollars. And that's not including sweat equity.

All things considered, that's ultimately rather cheap. The JIMO/Prometheus contract proposal by Northrop Grumman cost $80 million.* The Future Imagery Architecture reconnaissance satellite proposal cost Boeing $100 million. (You can look up the results of both of those contracts.) It's not unusual for large aerospace contractors to spend a hundred million bucks on a contract that will ultimately be worth billions.







*Told to me by somebody who was on the NG team. The really shocking thing is that they fully knew that the program was going to be canceled, but they spent the money in order to not anger the NASA administrator by making a no-bid.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Dalhousie on 12/24/2017 02:04 AM
And that's not even mentioning our current limits in building spacecraft for outer planet missions, where the best we can do, built upon decades of concerted work, isn't good enough for such long lived, hostile environment, missions.

Huh?  Not ONE outer planet mission has failed prior to completing it's primary mission, barring Juno, which still has several months to go.  All the others (barring Huygens with lts limited battery life) have had their mission extended, often multiple times.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Blackstar on 12/24/2017 02:08 AM
Seven years ago a little bird who worked at JPL told me that they spent on average $500K per Discovery proposal and $750K per New Frontiers proposal. I'm sure it's considerably higher now. If you go back and count how many JPL Discovery proposals there were in the last round, you get a sense of how much internal money JPL spent. That's not counting all the other participants who are doing things like the instrument proposals. I'll just ballpark it and figure that each New Frontiers proposal probably costs $1.5 million to put forth, and each Discovery proposal is probably a million dollars. And that's not including sweat equity.

Allow me to comment on my own post...

This high cost of proposals is actually an argument for having fewer competitions for Discovery and selecting two each time instead of one. The reason is that if you have a competition every couple of years, then proposers are spending a lot of money each round for a low selection rate.

Put it this way: suppose you hold one competition in 2016, and then another competition in 2018, and each time you have 28 proposers and you select one winner each time. For those two competitions the proposers have spent $56 million for two winners over two years. Instead, if you do one competition in 2016 and another in 2020 and you select two winners each time, over four years you've spent $56 million, but selected four winners. It's a more efficient approach and it doesn't kill everybody putting together proposals. Of course, this also assumes that you have the budget to support more missions, and you might not. But NASA is aware that a lot of non-NASA money is being spent for each competition and they want to maximize effectiveness.

New Frontiers doesn't benefit the same way. The decadal recommended two NF selections this decade, and NASA is not on course to do that. But New Frontiers is also a much higher cost cap, and it's not really possible to select two during one competition.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Space Ghost 1962 on 12/24/2017 02:33 AM
And that's not even mentioning our current limits in building spacecraft for outer planet missions, where the best we can do, built upon decades of concerted work, isn't good enough for such long lived, hostile environment, missions.

Huh?  Not ONE outer planet mission has failed prior to completing it's primary mission, barring Juno, which still has several months to go.  All the others (barring Huygens with lts limited battery life) have had their mission extended, often multiple times.
Yes I know. So I've in more detail, more cases, more loudly (but diplomatically) ... said.

But when you propose even more taxing missions ... you get this thrown in your face. How do you prove a potential negative?
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Lar on 12/24/2017 03:34 AM
No, I got it.
No, you didn't.

My question, which wasn't ideological at all, however much you might want it to be, was answered satisfactorily by people who aren't as quick to misjudge as you. And I agree with those that say that this process for deciding what science missions to fund is superb.

Subtopic closed as far as I am concerned.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: vapour_nudge on 12/24/2017 04:12 AM
And that's not even mentioning our current limits in building spacecraft for outer planet missions, where the best we can do, built upon decades of concerted work, isn't good enough for such long lived, hostile environment, missions.

Huh?  Not ONE outer planet mission has failed prior to completing it's primary mission, barring Juno, which still has several months to go.  All the others (barring Huygens with lts limited battery life) have had their mission extended, often multiple times.
Galileo didn’t do too well but these weren’t all New Frontiers missions which is the topic
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Dalhousie on 12/24/2017 08:21 AM
And that's not even mentioning our current limits in building spacecraft for outer planet missions, where the best we can do, built upon decades of concerted work, isn't good enough for such long lived, hostile environment, missions.

Huh?  Not ONE outer planet mission has failed prior to completing it's primary mission, barring Juno, which still has several months to go.  All the others (barring Huygens with lts limited battery life) have had their mission extended, often multiple times.
Galileo didn’t do too well but these weren’t all New Frontiers missions which is the topic

Apart from the antenna problem (due to storage) it performed very well and was twice extended.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: vjkane on 12/24/2017 02:08 PM
When we did the decadal, I think we were aware of three potential comet sampling mechanisms, two that were public and one that was proprietary and that we were not allowed to know about, but which was provided to the cost estimators with an NDA. I can only remember one of the two public ones, and it involved a kind of wire brush and scoop mechanism--think of it like a vacuum cleaner with wire brushes up front that would scoop the sample into the collector. The strength of such a mechanism is that it works with multiple samples. If the surface is snow, it scoops it right up. If the surface is hard ice, it scrapes it up. I think the downside is that what you get is an aggregated sample (I'm probably using the wrong word). It's a collection of all the stuff mixed together. What you may want is a small ice core from one spot, and some snow from another spot, and some ice chunks from another spot. So maybe you use this method and you use some other sampling device.
For really small bodies such as P67 or Bennu, sampling is a challenge.  The gravity is too low to hold the spacecraft on the body, so you can take your time and use a scoop or a drill.  You have a very brief contact in which the momentum of the spacecraft is pressing your sampling mechanism to the surface.  OSIRIS-REx uses a blast of gas to push material off the surface and into the sample container.  To get a sample from depth at a comet, at least two proposed sampling mechanisms shot a tube/harpoon into the surface.  (On was at the end of an arm, the other was an actual tethered harpoon.)  This had the added advantage of preserving the stratigraphy of the sample.

For a larger body such as Phobos, the gravity is sufficiently high that the spacecraft can sit on  the surface and use more conventional approaches.  This is what JAXA's MMX mission will do.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: vjkane on 12/24/2017 02:43 PM

Allow me to comment on my own post...

This high cost of proposals is actually an argument for having fewer competitions for Discovery and selecting two each time instead of one. The reason is that if you have a competition every couple of years, then proposers are spending a lot of money each round for a low selection rate.

Put it this way: suppose you hold one competition in 2016, and then another competition in 2018, and each time you have 28 proposers and you select one winner each time. For those two competitions the proposers have spent $56 million for two winners over two years. Instead, if you do one competition in 2016 and another in 2020 and you select two winners each time, over four years you've spent $56 million, but selected four winners. It's a more efficient approach and it doesn't kill everybody putting together proposals. Of course, this also assumes that you have the budget to support more missions, and you might not. But NASA is aware that a lot of non-NASA money is being spent for each competition and they want to maximize effectiveness.
NASA has announced its intention to begin its next Discovery selection in about a year leading to a launch no later than 2025.  Any decisions on whether to select one or two missions would likely be made closer to the time of the selection when future funding flows would be better understood.

Two popular categories of proposals from the last competition may not be in this new one.  With JAXA's Phobos sample return/Deimos multiple flyby MMX mission, these two destinations would seem to be out of the running.  From an OPAG presentation this past summer, the outer planets community appears to have concluded that Discovery missions to those destinations don't fit within the budget cap.  I expect retries for Venus and more comet and asteroid proposals.  Not sure if a meaningful Ceres follow on mission can fit within the budget cap, but there are those main belt comets...  And I expect more Mars proposals.  The Next Mars Orbiter SDT identified several priority orbital studies, and the Mars community is making noise about stationary landers for sites with current water or ice (with attention to planetary protection) or small rovers to explore the diversity of ancient aqueous sites.
Title: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Star One on 12/24/2017 03:12 PM

Allow me to comment on my own post...

This high cost of proposals is actually an argument for having fewer competitions for Discovery and selecting two each time instead of one. The reason is that if you have a competition every couple of years, then proposers are spending a lot of money each round for a low selection rate.

Put it this way: suppose you hold one competition in 2016, and then another competition in 2018, and each time you have 28 proposers and you select one winner each time. For those two competitions the proposers have spent $56 million for two winners over two years. Instead, if you do one competition in 2016 and another in 2020 and you select two winners each time, over four years you've spent $56 million, but selected four winners. It's a more efficient approach and it doesn't kill everybody putting together proposals. Of course, this also assumes that you have the budget to support more missions, and you might not. But NASA is aware that a lot of non-NASA money is being spent for each competition and they want to maximize effectiveness.
NASA has announced its intention to begin its next Discovery selection in about a year leading to a launch no later than 2025.  Any decisions on whether to select one or two missions would likely be made closer to the time of the selection when future funding flows would be better understood.

Two popular categories of proposals from the last competition may not be in this new one.  With JAXA's Phobos sample return/Deimos multiple flyby MMX mission, these two destinations would seem to be out of the running.  From an OPAG presentation this past summer, the outer planets community appears to have concluded that Discovery missions to those destinations don't fit within the budget cap.  I expect retries for Venus and more comet and asteroid proposals.  Not sure if a meaningful Ceres follow on mission can fit within the budget cap, but there are those main belt comets...  And I expect more Mars proposals.  The Next Mars Orbiter SDT identified several priority orbital studies, and the Mars community is making noise about stationary landers for sites with current water or ice (with attention to planetary protection) or small rovers to explore the diversity of ancient aqueous sites.

By the time those Mars projects get to the red planet Elon Musk could have his booted feet everywhere so maybe other destinations not due an influx of humans full of microorganisms might be a more worthy bet if you’re looking for life or anything in that line.

It might well be the case that any scientific missions to the moon and Mars from the mid-2030s onwards is liable to face the challenge that these destinations will be seen as the primary remit of private industry. Let’s not even start on the possibilities of asteroid mining. Hopefully by then the technology will be ready that Venus becomes a primary focus of scientific missions again as I really can’t see any private industry interest in it.

Perhaps some form of informal slicing up of the solar system will have to take place to avoid standing on each other’s toes when it comes to targets of interest.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Lar on 12/24/2017 03:39 PM
It would be foolish to completely discount the possibility of regular cargo transport to multiple destinations by 2030. It would also be foolish to count on it. So it seems like a challenging time for mission planning. 

Venus might well be of commercial interest, as a source of volatiles if nothing else. But probably not for a while.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: redliox on 12/24/2017 09:22 PM
Borderline off topic to bring Musk into this thread, although you guys have a point in that the launch industry may be more competitive and flexible in the coming decade.

Well for better or worse it looks like the upcoming Frontier and Discovery missions will be about comets, Titan, and asteroids.  Titan was the definite wildcard.  Given how all the respective missions, while not the first to visit any of these types of targets, are all doing something unique in their missions.

Regarding New Frontiers let's focus the discussion to Dragonfly and CAESAR.  They're the finalists and both are pretty ambitious.  As for Venus and it's second kick in its asteroid deposit those complaints in the Venus threads.  I feel as much for Venus as I do the overlooked Deimos/Phobos missions in the Discovery lineup, but the choice is made and the (space) traveler shall come.
Title: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Star One on 12/24/2017 10:14 PM
Borderline off topic to bring Musk into this thread, although you guys have a point in that the launch industry may be more competitive and flexible in the coming decade.

Well for better or worse it looks like the upcoming Frontier and Discovery missions will be about comets, Titan, and asteroids.  Titan was the definite wildcard.  Given how all the respective missions, while not the first to visit any of these types of targets, are all doing something unique in their missions.

Regarding New Frontiers let's focus the discussion to Dragonfly and CAESAR.  They're the finalists and both are pretty ambitious.  As for Venus and it's second kick in its asteroid deposit those complaints in the Venus threads.  I feel as much for Venus as I do the overlooked Deimos/Phobos missions in the Discovery lineup, but the choice is made and the (space) traveler shall come.

Thinking to talk of such missions without considering the wider world especially when the industry is likely to change so greatly over the coming decade or two seems a curious argument to make. Even such a basic element of launch cost which has often been a large factor in such projects cost projections is liable to greatly be impacted. One might almost think someone was seeking to stifle debate.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: ccdengr on 12/24/2017 10:45 PM
One might almost think someone was seeking to stifle debate.
It's not a debate, it's just a tiresome rehash of every other SpaceX thread on this forum.

If launch costs decrease, I'm sure NASA's planetary program will take advantage of it to the extent that it politically can.
Title: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Star One on 12/24/2017 10:51 PM
One might almost think someone was seeking to stifle debate.
It's not a debate, it's just a tiresome rehash of every other SpaceX thread on this forum.

If launch costs decrease, I'm sure NASA's planetary program will take advantage of it to the extent that it politically can.

It is a topic for debate unless you somehow think the New Horizons program exists in some kind of magical bubble outside of the changing reality of the industry.

By the way I am not sure why you thought anyone was automatically referring to Space X being as the changes are larger than one company.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: hop on 12/24/2017 11:00 PM
Thinking to talk of such missions without considering the wider world especially when the industry is likely to change so greatly over the coming decade or two seems a curious argument to make. Even such a basic element of launch cost which has often been a large factor in such projects cost projections is liable to greatly be impacted. One might almost think someone was seeking to stifle debate.
One of the NF finalists will be selected in 2019. Final design and construction will follow immediately, with little margin to meet launch dates in '24 or '25. Existing or firmly planned LVs with appropriate capabilities need to be identified by the time the mission is selected, and actual LV selection needs to happen not terribly long after that.

This isn't about "stifling debate" it's about timescales that real missions development actually happens on. NF class missions take ~4 years to build. Speculative new capabilities arriving after ~2020 or so are irrelevant to NF4 missions that need to meet a hard launch date in the '24-'25 timeframe.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Lar on 12/24/2017 11:08 PM
Borderline off topic to bring Musk into this thread, although you guys have a point in that the launch industry may be more competitive and flexible in the coming decade.

Well for better or worse it looks like the upcoming Frontier and Discovery missions will be about comets, Titan, and asteroids.  Titan was the definite wildcard.  Given how all the respective missions, while not the first to visit any of these types of targets, are all doing something unique in their missions.

Regarding New Frontiers let's focus the discussion to Dragonfly and CAESAR.  They're the finalists and both are pretty ambitious.  As for Venus and it's second kick in its asteroid deposit those complaints in the Venus threads.  I feel as much for Venus as I do the overlooked Deimos/Phobos missions in the Discovery lineup, but the choice is made and the (space) traveler shall come.

Titan and the various asteroids are not likely to see routine cargo service by the time these missions fly. Mars by 2030 maybe. But not in time for the 2020 rover... So mostly moot for this round.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: notsorandom on 12/25/2017 04:27 PM
Even if the launch vehicle were free a New Frontiers mission is still quite expensive. The difference in cost between launch providers is something like less than ten percentage points of the total cost of the mission when all is said and done. So while it's nice that cheaper launch costs are on the way it's not a game changing thing for these missions.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: vjkane on 12/25/2017 04:51 PM
Even if the launch vehicle were free a New Frontiers mission is still quite expensive. The difference in cost between launch providers is something like less than ten percentage points of the total cost of the mission when all is said and done. So while it's nice that cheaper launch costs are on the way it's not a game changing thing for these missions.
The PI cost limit for this competition is $850M, which includes design, build, and testing of the hardware and software as well as the analysis of the returned data.  NASA separately pays for its management costs, launch, and operations.  The latter two vary by mission (but note, both the finalists have very long prime missions; Dragonfly might operate for a decade or so in extended missions).  In looking at the actual full costs of prior New Frontiers missions, the NASA costs can be $200M or more than the PI costs.  So notsorandom is correct, even a free launch wouldn't dramatically change the economics of these missions. 

However, a $100M here, $30M saved there using less expensive launches eventually adds up to enough money for a new mission (but it might not be planetary and Congress might just reduce the budget allocation).

The long flight times of these missions is one reason that I don't think we'll see billionaires investing in them, as much as I'd like to see that (but there is that group trying to fund a private Enceladus mission).  How old would Musk or Bezos be, for example, before any of these missions returned their primary data?
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Zed_Noir on 12/25/2017 06:53 PM
@Blackstar

What happens if the finalist in NF-4 for whatever reasons fails to be ready for launch on time?

Will they get more funding, just get cancel or something else.

Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Nomadd on 12/25/2017 06:56 PM
Even if the launch vehicle were free a New Frontiers mission is still quite expensive. The difference in cost between launch providers is something like less than ten percentage points of the total cost of the mission when all is said and done. So while it's nice that cheaper launch costs are on the way it's not a game changing thing for these missions.
The PI cost limit for this competition is $850M, which includes design, build, and testing of the hardware and software as well as the analysis of the returned data.  NASA separately pays for its management costs, launch, and operations.  The latter two vary by mission (but note, both the finalists have very long prime missions; Dragonfly might operate for a decade or so in extended missions).  In looking at the actual full costs of prior New Frontiers missions, the NASA costs can be $200M or more than the PI costs.  So notsorandom is correct, even a free launch wouldn't dramatically change the economics of these missions. 

However, a $100M here, $30M saved there using less expensive launches eventually adds up to enough money for a new mission (but it might not be planetary and Congress might just reduce the budget allocation).

The long flight times of these missions is one reason that I don't think we'll see billionaires investing in them, as much as I'd like to see that (but there is that group trying to fund a private Enceladus mission).  How old would Musk or Bezos be, for example, before any of these missions returned their primary data?
Cheaper launch costs might not be a game changer for these missions, but with a set launch budget, a different provider might not mean cheaper cost, but increased payload, which could be a game changer.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: hop on 12/25/2017 07:52 PM
What happens if the finalist in NF-4 for whatever reasons fails to be ready for launch on time?
Dawn, Kepler and InSight provide some previous examples. Historically, NASA has gone to quite a bit of effort to fly mission that got into trouble but were basically viable, but it would clearly depend on the circumstances. Missing a once-a-decade launch window is a lot different than missing a 18 month window.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Star One on 12/27/2017 07:30 PM
Article somewhat countering the insinuations of certain posters about if this mission could do much useful science.

Quote
Thus the news that Dragonfly has won approval as a finalist concept for a robotic launch to Titan in the mid-2020s is encouraging. Dragonfly offers not just a useful instrument package but mobility on the surface in the form of a rotorcraft that could explore numerous sites on the moon. We have to be creative indeed in imagining life that would exist at -180 degrees Celsius in an environment that gets a tenth of one percent of the sunlight Earth’s surface receives. But as Rahm, Lunine and colleagues have reminded us, mechanisms may exist to make it happen.

https://www.centauri-dreams.org/?p=39019
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Blackstar on 12/28/2017 02:59 PM
@Blackstar

What happens if the finalist in NF-4 for whatever reasons fails to be ready for launch on time?

Will they get more funding, just get cancel or something else.

There are cost-capped missions. That actually means something. One of the things it means is that the people involved work hard to stay within the cost cap, and understand that they could be replaced if it looks like they are going to miss the cost cap. Launch windows (i.e. deadlines) directly affect the cost caps. If you start falling behind schedule, the way you catch up is to burn more money, and of course that raises the risk of blowing the cost cap. So a good management team keeps one foot on the gas pedal and one foot on the brake.

To sort of not answer your question: a good management team (and the people looking over their heads) are going to work really hard to not miss a launch window, especially if it has major consequences (like a multi-year delay). They're going to trade off on things, which could include spending more money, or cutting off capability (for instance sacrificing a late instrument), or making other trades. A good management team is going to have a lot of options in their toolbox, and that could include things you never even think of, like launching a lander without its landing software and then uploading the software later, while in flight.

That cost cap is going to loom over them, however. So if they think that they really need to spend more money to meet a launch window, the first thing they're going to have to do is look at other stuff that they can cut within the program so that they don't bust the cost cap, like chopping off an instrument. If they decide that is insufficient, they could go to HQ and ask for more money, but they realize that doing so might come with a cost--"Okay, we will give you an extra $50 million, but we're going to cut it out of your science crunching phase." Or: "Okay, we will give you an extra $50 million, but we're going to fire your program manager." You can see why they want to solve the problem internally rather than have to go asking for more cash.

InSight missed its launch window and did not get canceled, and it cost more money. But there have been several Earth science missions that looked like they were going to blow their cost caps and NASA canceled them. There was a mess-up with Juno where NASA selected the mission without having the funding to start development, and that ultimately resulted in a delay that cost more money (that was an HQ screwup of the kind that really should not have happened).

If you read the recent National Academies report "Powering Science," you'll see that we noted that NASA has gotten a lot better at both estimating costs and managing missions to cost. But there can always be unpredictable development that crop up and require more money or harsh management decisions:

https://www.nap.edu/catalog/24857/powering-science-nasas-large-strategic-science-missions

But in the end, exceeding a budget is not the worst thing in the world. The goal of everybody involved is to do good science, and it's not easy to predict what it will cost to do things that have never been done before. In some cases getting the data is considered really important, which is why InSight missed its launch window but was not canceled.


Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: vjkane on 12/28/2017 03:01 PM
Article somewhat countering the insinuations of certain posters about if this mission could do much useful science.

Quote
Thus the news that Dragonfly has won approval as a finalist concept for a robotic launch to Titan in the mid-2020s is encouraging. Dragonfly offers not just a useful instrument package but mobility on the surface in the form of a rotorcraft that could explore numerous sites on the moon. We have to be creative indeed in imagining life that would exist at -180 degrees Celsius in an environment that gets a tenth of one percent of the sunlight Earth’s surface receives. But as Rahm, Lunine and colleagues have reminded us, mechanisms may exist to make it happen.

https://www.centauri-dreams.org/?p=39019
There's a good reason that the ultimate goal for almost every type of solar system body is to return samples to Earth.  The exquisite and varied investigations that can be done on a returned sample can never be matched by instruments on a spacecraft.  Every grain can tell its own unique story. 

However, a planetary program that just returns samples without any other type of mission would be highly unbalanced.  Imagine if the only goal was to have a piece of Mars in a terrestrial laboratory -- we'd be done (I even own a tiny fragment of a Martian meteorite).  Imagine trying to understand Mars without the orbital missions to provide the planetary and regional contexts, or without landers and rovers to provide local context.  If we had rushed to a Mars sample return 20 or 30 years ago (and it's been the ultimate goal of Martian exploration for that long), we'd have picked the wrong samples and not understood their place in time or history.

Sample return missions are also usually more expensive than orbiters and landers/rovers.  So do we wait on further exploration of, for example, Ceres until we have the budget wedge for a sample return or do we return with a less expensive lander whose instruments will advance our understanding of the surface materials but nowhere near as much as could be done with returned samples?

Dragonfly takes Titan exploration to the second level (with Cassini having provided the global and regional contexts (albeit at low resolutions compared to our mapping of Mars, the moon, or even Venus)).  Depending on what it finds, getting samples back from Titan may be the absolute must do of the 2040s.

The real challenge is not designing a balanced program but of affording it.  Standard planetary budgets can pay for one Flagship mission, around 1.5 New Frontiers, and 3-4 Discovery missions per decade.  (We get two Flagship missions this coming decade because Congressman Culberson has pushed extra money into NASA's coffers earmarked for the Europa Clipper.)  And so NASA may bet either taking the exploration of Titan or returning samples from a comet as its only New Frontiers mission for the 2020s.
Title: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Star One on 12/28/2017 03:08 PM
Article somewhat countering the insinuations of certain posters about if this mission could do much useful science.

Quote
Thus the news that Dragonfly has won approval as a finalist concept for a robotic launch to Titan in the mid-2020s is encouraging. Dragonfly offers not just a useful instrument package but mobility on the surface in the form of a rotorcraft that could explore numerous sites on the moon. We have to be creative indeed in imagining life that would exist at -180 degrees Celsius in an environment that gets a tenth of one percent of the sunlight Earth’s surface receives. But as Rahm, Lunine and colleagues have reminded us, mechanisms may exist to make it happen.

https://www.centauri-dreams.org/?p=39019
There's a good reason that the ultimate goal for almost every type of solar system body is to return samples to Earth.  The exquisite and varied investigations that can be done on a returned sample can never be matched by instruments on a spacecraft.  Every grain can tell its own unique story. 

However, a planetary program that just returns samples without any other type of mission would be highly unbalanced.  Imagine if the only goal was to have a piece of Mars in a terrestrial laboratory -- we'd be done (I even own a tiny fragment of a Martian meteorite).  Imagine trying to understand Mars without the orbital missions to provide the planetary and regional contexts, or without landers and rovers to provide local context.  If we had rushed to a Mars sample return 20 or 30 years ago (and it's been the ultimate goal of Martian exploration for that long), we'd have picked the wrong samples and not understood their place in time or history.

Sample return missions are also usually more expensive than orbiters and landers/rovers.  So do we wait on further exploration of, for example, Ceres until we have the budget wedge for a sample return or do we return with a less expensive lander whose instruments will advance our understanding of the surface materials but nowhere near as much as could be done with returned samples?

Dragonfly takes Titan exploration to the second level (with Cassini having provided the global and regional contexts (albeit at low resolutions compared to our mapping of Mars, the moon, or even Venus)).  Depending on what it finds, getting samples back from Titan may be the absolute must do of the 2040s.

The real challenge is not designing a balanced program but of affording it.  Standard planetary budgets can pay for one Flagship mission, around 1.5 New Frontiers, and 3-4 Discovery missions per decade.  (We get two Flagship missions this coming decade because Congressman Culberson has pushed extra money into NASA's coffers earmarked for the Europa Clipper.)  And so NASA may bet either taking the exploration of Titan or returning samples from a comet as its only New Frontiers mission for the 2020s.

My annoyance throughout these recent developments is my dislike of the idea that appears to being pushed by certain posters, even if unintentionally or incidentally that sample return equates to CAESAR being the superior mission scientifically because of this aspect of it.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: vjkane on 12/28/2017 03:18 PM
If you read the recent National Academies report "Powering Science," you'll see that we noted that NASA has gotten a lot better at both estimating costs and managing missions to cost. But there can always be unpredictable development that crop up and require more money or harsh management decisions:

https://www.nap.edu/catalog/24857/powering-science-nasas-large-strategic-science-missions

NASA had a near crisis of cost overruns in the 1990s and 2000s in the planetary missions (see, for example, http://futureplanets.blogspot.com/2013/05/implementing-missions-within-budget.html).  The people running its program are smart and have seemingly largely fixed the problem, although surprises still happen such as with InSight. 

With Juno's early funding problems, the team had an extended definition and design phase.  It's PI has remarked on how much that helped mature the design and avoid later cost overruns.  Clipper also had an extended definition phase -- so far, I'm not hearing of major cost problems on this very complex mission.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Blackstar on 12/28/2017 03:24 PM
The latter two vary by mission (but note, both the finalists have very long prime missions; Dragonfly might operate for a decade or so in extended missions).

The long primary mission for CAESAR is due to the fact that the primary phase ends when the sample reaches Earth, so that means going all the way out there and then coming back. I assume that Dragonfly has a long primary phase because of the long transit time to Saturn.

Trading off prime and extended phase budgets is an interesting subject. We got into it a bit with our 2016 report "Extending Science":

https://www.nap.edu/catalog/23624/extending-science-nasas-space-science-mission-extensions-and-the-senior

That's a pretty good report, if I may say so myself. One of the things we heard was the complaint that NASA "games" the budgets by having shorter prime phases when they "know" that a spacecraft is likely to last a long time in extended phase, so they have simply shifted the budget out of the mission cost and are not showing the full lifetime cost of a mission. As an example, if NASA "accurately" (I'm deliberately using quotation marks here to indicate that these are allegations and not actually the truth) accounted for full lifetime costs, some of their missions would appear to cost hundreds of millions of dollars more, because they can last a decade or longer.

Turns out that's just not true. For starters, NASA science budgets already include a budget category for extended phase missions. It's a pool of money that NASA can allocate appropriately to all the missions in extended phase. So while somebody might claim that the agency has not included the full lifetime cost of a mission up front, it's not like the money is being hidden--it's right there in the overall budget, it just has not been allocated for mission operations that might not occur for 5-10+ years.

Also, a spacecraft's predicted lifetime is based upon its engineering design, but also upon how it is tested. If a spacecraft is not tested for a longer lifetime, NASA cannot claim that it will have a longer lifetime. So, imagine that you have a mission to Saturn and you design it for a 7-year lifetime. That's 5 years of transit, and then 2 years of prime mission operations. You only test it for the 7 year lifetime. But then it gets there and you discover that it lasts a lot longer and you ultimately get 10 years out of it. You never tested it to 10 years, so it would not have been legitimate to budget it up front as a 10-year mission. It was totally realistic to budget it for 7 years and then have additional money in another budget that you could allocate to mission extensions as needed. And the reality is that it could have died at 7 years and still have achieved all the Phase 1 goals. (There have been several spacecraft that have died right around their predicted lifetimes, so it happens.)

Now the really interesting aspect of this is that a lot of times the best science happens after the prime phase, when you're into extended phase. There are a lot of reasons for this, but one of them is that during the prime phase the operators and scientists are still figuring out how best to use the spacecraft. They're learning what works well and how to maximize performance and so on. They might get really good at it a year or so into the prime phase, so productivity then is higher when they enter extended phase.

And finally, extended phase science operations are cheap. Our calculation was that they are about 12% of the science budget. You get a lot of science for that 12%.

All of this goes back to the issue that the overall cost of a mission can be much higher than the initial project cost (and so focusing on launch is really rather silly). But it also reminds one of the old saying about knowing the cost of everything and the value of nothing.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Blackstar on 12/28/2017 03:32 PM
1-NASA had a near crisis of cost overruns in the 1990s and 2000s in the planetary missions (see, for example, http://futureplanets.blogspot.com/2013/05/implementing-missions-within-budget.html).  The people running its program are smart and have seemingly largely fixed the problem, although surprises still happen such as with InSight. 

2-With Juno's early funding problems, the team had an extended definition and design phase.  It's PI has remarked on how much that helped mature the design and avoid later cost overruns.  Clipper also had an extended definition phase -- so far, I'm not hearing of major cost problems on this very complex mission.

1-The more relevant issue was JWST in the 2000s, along with Curiosity/MSL. JWST sent such a shock through the system that it forced everybody to do things differently. See chapter 3 of the "Powering Science" report which goes into the issue in some detail. There are a lot of management techniques that were implemented to keep a better handle on costs. For instance, one issue is where the budget reserves are held. Previously most of the reserves were in the project level, meaning that when stuff started to cost more, the manager simply spent the money. But by shifting the reserves to a higher level, it meant that when stuff started to cost more, the manager now had to go to HQ and ask permission to spend money. This forces managers to try to solve problems without having to ask for cash. It reduces cost overruns.

2-Somebody could probably go into this in more detail. I think that the screw-up with Juno early on cost something like $100 million, which was a big hit (almost 20% of the budget?). Now they did have an extended definition phase that might have saved money later on, but it may not have saved them as much as it cost up front. The bottom line of the Juno experience is that NASA learned the hard way that it should not choose a mission unless it has the money to pay for that mission. (They did an even bigger screw up with an earlier Discovery selection. They definitely learned some lessons in the 2000s that they have applied later on.)

Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: vjkane on 12/28/2017 03:56 PM
1-NASA had a near crisis of cost overruns in the 1990s and 2000s in the planetary missions (see, for example, http://futureplanets.blogspot.com/2013/05/implementing-missions-within-budget.html).  The people running its program are smart and have seemingly largely fixed the problem, although surprises still happen such as with InSight. 

2-With Juno's early funding problems, the team had an extended definition and design phase.  It's PI has remarked on how much that helped mature the design and avoid later cost overruns.  Clipper also had an extended definition phase -- so far, I'm not hearing of major cost problems on this very complex mission.

1-The more relevant issue was JWST in the 2000s, along with Curiosity/MSL. JWST sent such a shock through the system that it forced everybody to do things differently. See chapter 3 of the "Powering Science" report which goes into the issue in some detail. There are a lot of management techniques that were implemented to keep a better handle on costs. For instance, one issue is where the budget reserves are held. Previously most of the reserves were in the project level, meaning that when stuff started to cost more, the manager simply spent the money. But by shifting the reserves to a higher level, it meant that when stuff started to cost more, the manager now had to go to HQ and ask permission to spend money. This forces managers to try to solve problems without having to ask for cash. It reduces cost overruns.

2-Somebody could probably go into this in more detail. I think that the screw-up with Juno early on cost something like $100 million, which was a big hit (almost 20% of the budget?). Now they did have an extended definition phase that might have saved money later on, but it may not have saved them as much as it cost up front. The bottom line of the Juno experience is that NASA learned the hard way that it should not choose a mission unless it has the money to pay for that mission. (They did an even bigger screw up with an earlier Discovery selection. They definitely learned some lessons in the 2000s that they have applied later on.)
If you click through on the link I provided, you'll see that Discovery missions regularly went over budget, too.  NASA seems much more focused on assessing costs up front and picking lower risk missions.

Juno is a special case where the cost overrun occurred because of NASA's budget planning and because of anything in the PI's control.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Blackstar on 12/28/2017 04:09 PM
If you click through on the link I provided, you'll see that Discovery missions regularly went over budget, too. 

Yeah, but it didn't really matter for the big picture--JWST is what caught Congress' attention and forced changes in law and big changes in how programs are managed across all of SMD.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Blackstar on 12/28/2017 04:52 PM
Two popular categories of proposals from the last competition may not be in this new one.  With JAXA's Phobos sample return/Deimos multiple flyby MMX mission, these two destinations would seem to be out of the running.  From an OPAG presentation this past summer, the outer planets community appears to have concluded that Discovery missions to those destinations don't fit within the budget cap.  I expect retries for Venus and more comet and asteroid proposals.  Not sure if a meaningful Ceres follow on mission can fit within the budget cap, but there are those main belt comets...  And I expect more Mars proposals.  The Next Mars Orbiter SDT identified several priority orbital studies, and the Mars community is making noise about stationary landers for sites with current water or ice (with attention to planetary protection) or small rovers to explore the diversity of ancient aqueous sites.

This discussion properly belongs in a Discovery thread, but you left out a big category: lunar missions. There were relatively few the last Discovery round, but I would expect more proposals for the next round. There are some interesting reasons for that, but it really belongs in a different thread.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: vjkane on 12/28/2017 04:53 PM
This discussion properly belongs in a Discovery thread, but you left out a big category: lunar missions. There were relatively few the last Discovery round, but I would expect more proposals for the next round. There are some interesting reasons for that, but it really belongs in a different thread.

I hope that you'll post in the Discovery thread
Title: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Star One on 01/10/2018 04:49 PM
Here’s something from Pg 453, Vol 59 December 2017 issue of Spaceflight magazine that I rather agree with. My bolding.

“NASA is locked into the Decadal Survey published every ten years by the National Research Council, which while an admirable coalition of multifarious proposals, is too inflexible to absorb discoveries made by missions recommended by the preceding survey. Findings about the moons of Jupiter and Saturn, their liquid subsurface oceans, and the way they interact with each other and their parent planet, failed to factor in to the most recent survey in 2013, prepared in the preceding years.”
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Alpha_Centauri on 01/10/2018 05:19 PM
I assume that's why there's no Ocean Worlds program in New Frontiers.

Oh wait...
Title: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Star One on 01/10/2018 05:58 PM
I assume that's why there's no Ocean Worlds program in New Frontiers.

Oh wait...

They went onto mention that but still pointed out that the Decadal system lacks flexibility.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: vjkane on 01/11/2018 05:07 PM
Here’s something from Pg 453, Vol 59 December 2017 issue of Spaceflight magazine that I rather agree with. My bolding.

“NASA is locked into the Decadal Survey published every ten years by the National Research Council, which while an admirable coalition of multifarious proposals, is too inflexible to absorb discoveries made by missions recommended by the preceding survey. Findings about the moons of Jupiter and Saturn, their liquid subsurface oceans, and the way they interact with each other and their parent planet, failed to factor in to the most recent survey in 2013, prepared in the preceding years.”

There are at least three ways to modify the priorities set by a Decadal Survey:

There is a mid-term assessment (one is underway now) and either NASA or the committee can bring up issues that could be resolved by modifying the priorities

The Committee on Astrobiology and Planetary Science is an National Academies of Science committee and it can also bring up issues or recommendations and NASA can take the same to them

NASA can make changes on its own (the Decadals are input with considerable weight and Congressional backing, but not contracts).  In the one case where NASA did this that I know of (adding ocean worlds to the New Frontiers candidate mission list) NASA reviewed their decision afterwards with CAPS at one of their meetings
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Star One on 05/02/2018 09:04 PM
Quote
The proposed Venus In situ Composition Investigations (VICI) mission could help address many of these questions, according to Glaze, the mission’s principal investigator. Glaze told the audience at December’s American Geophysical Union meeting that the mission as currently envisioned—and subject to NASA’s approval—will send two landers on the same craft to our nearest neighbor (2). The landers will amass atmospheric data during their 45-minute drop to the surface and then glean detailed geological information once they touch down.

Lots more info on the link.

http://www.pnas.org/content/115/18/4525
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: jbenton on 08/06/2018 08:36 PM
I just read through this whole thread and I have a question for the CAESAR mission: what is the nature of the planetary alignment with 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko? Will this be our last chance in awhile to revisit Rosetta-Philae's comet - or at least revisit it under solar power?
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: redliox on 08/06/2018 11:21 PM
I just read through this whole thread and I have a question for the CAESAR mission: what is the nature of the planetary alignment with 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko? Will this be our last chance in awhile to revisit Rosetta-Philae's comet - or at least revisit it under solar power?

67P (in short) has a period of about 6.5 years.  You may need gravity assists like Rosetta did but it is far from impossible to revisit via solar power.  Halley's Comet, on the other hand, had a period of about 76 years.  It will be more of a matter whether or not the comet keeps the scientific community's attention and opinion.  CAESAR chose it for a target because it's been mapped in detail and would be (relatively) safe to land on since we know what to expect.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: jbenton on 08/07/2018 12:15 AM
I just read through this whole thread and I have a question for the CAESAR mission: what is the nature of the planetary alignment with 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko? Will this be our last chance in awhile to revisit Rosetta-Philae's comet - or at least revisit it under solar power?

67P (in short) has a period of about 6.5 years.  You may need gravity assists like Rosetta did but it is far from impossible to revisit via solar power.  Halley's Comet, on the other hand, had a period of about 76 years.  It will be more of a matter whether or not the comet keeps the scientific community's attention and opinion.  CAESAR chose it for a target because it's been mapped in detail and would be (relatively) safe to land on since we know what to expect.

Thanks.

How much will that well-mapped surface change as it gets heated up by the sun after several close-approaches?
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: vjkane on 08/07/2018 02:22 AM
How much will that well-mapped surface change as it gets heated up by the sun after several close-approaches?
The only science that CAESAR would do at the comet (all other science would be done on Earth on the returned samples) would be to map it for changes.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: zubenelgenubi on 09/28/2018 05:25 PM
TSR article, dated September 24, by Van Kane!  (NSF's vjkane)

Thank you for the informative article!

A comet or Titan: The next New Frontiers mission (http://thespacereview.com/article/3574/1)
Quote
The two concepts contending to be selected as NASA’s next planetary mission have two things in common: Both would do compelling science, and both would not begin their scientific missions until the mid-2030s.

Otherwise the two missions could not be more different.

CAESAR or Dragonfly

Quote
The decision between these two excellent but fundamentally different missions will be made in mid-2019 by NASA’s associate administrator for science. His decision will determine whether the 2030s brings a flowering of science for comets or Titan.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: TakeOff on 11/04/2018 06:41 PM
Here's a great talk at Philosophical Society of Washington about CAESAR, by Professor James A. Weeks, describing how the technologies have already been successfully demonstrated. Quite impressive!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-nuGfu67VhI (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-nuGfu67VhI)
I wonder, since they will land hardware on Earth, could they put a memory chip in it to bring home terabytes of imagery and other data, in addition to what is radioed home?
Title: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Star One on 11/04/2018 07:24 PM
And in the interests of balance here is a video about Dragonfly from the same organisation made by planetary scientist Zibi Turtle.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bukR9jljUrU
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: TheFallen on 11/06/2018 04:08 AM
How much will that well-mapped surface change as it gets heated up by the sun after several close-approaches?
The only science that CAESAR would do at the comet (all other science would be done on Earth on the returned samples) would be to map it for changes.

All the more reason why I hope Dragonfly gets selected next summer. A lot bolder with more exciting science potential...in situ, that is.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Don2 on 11/08/2018 04:49 AM
I suspect that NASA will go for CAESAR. The science community has wanted a comet sample return mission for decades. While Dragonfly is incredibly bold and clever, I'm not convinced it will fit inside a New Frontiers budget.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: TheFallen on 11/08/2018 05:24 AM
Yea. A lot of missions that I hoped NASA would approve over the past 13 years will remain fiction...at least for a while.

New Horizons 2... Argo (to Neptune)... The Titan Mare Explorer... And a lunar lander to the Moon's Aitken Basin in its South Pole.

Darn shortage of Plutonium-238 for those first three missions...
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Star One on 11/08/2018 01:26 PM
I suspect that NASA will go for CAESAR. The science community has wanted a comet sample return mission for decades. While Dragonfly is incredibly bold and clever, I'm not convinced it will fit inside a New Frontiers budget.

I’d hope the people proposing Dragonfly know it’s budget sufficiently well to feel that it does.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Don2 on 11/08/2018 08:07 PM
Nothing like Dragonfly has ever been built before, so there is no way to accurately estimate the costs. CAESAR is also quite ambitious, but it builds on the OSIRIS-REX design in a way will hopefully keep it affordable.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: ncb1397 on 11/08/2018 09:20 PM
Nothing like Dragonfly has ever been built before

Huygens with rotor blades and a nuclear power source?
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Blackstar on 11/09/2018 04:20 PM
1-although it's common and easy to label the Americans as the problem here, that's not always true. Yeah, the United States did really screw over ESA by dropping out of ExoMars. That decision was made by OMB, not by NASA. But other countries are not completely blameless in these things. And as I am very fond of saying, it is complicated. Look at what happened with InSight, where it was the non-American instrument that screwed up, delaying the mission, and costing NASA a significant amount of money.

2-there is more to the China issue than can be publicly discussed. There's a back-story to this issue that is not public, and shouldn't be public. Without going into it, I'd just suggest reading my first point above. I used to think it made great sense to pursue greater space science cooperation with China, but I no longer do.

https://spacenews.com/foust-forward-the-challenges-to-chinese-space-cooperation/

Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: vjkane on 11/09/2018 06:11 PM
Nothing like Dragonfly has ever been built before, so there is no way to accurately estimate the costs. CAESAR is also quite ambitious, but it builds on the OSIRIS-REX design in a way will hopefully keep it affordable.
When I wrote my piece on the two finalists, Squyres emphasized how different CAESAR is for OSIRIS-REx in its implementation.  If you look at the details, he's right.

Dragonfly likely builds on a lot of DoD projects that involve autonomous flight; the chassis as a reasonable resemblance to Curiosity, many of the subsystems likely have high heritage, etc.

Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Don2 on 11/10/2018 08:28 AM

So this is hard to communicate, but I suggest not assuming, either now or after the selection, that you know "why" NASA makes the selection that they do. People tend to assume things like "They picked target X because they are interested in target X and not the other target." But the reality is that the actual selections of Discovery and New Frontiers missions tend to have to do primarily with the specific proposals and not larger strategic concerns....

So you are saying that the choice is driven by the quality of the engineering rather than by a decision that comets are more interesting than Titan. And that you know of at least one specific case where the public speculation was entirely incorrect. That's interesting to hear.

@ncb1397...A flying vehicle is very different from something that descends on a parachute and sits there. Some of the instruments will be similar, but apart from that I don't see much commonality.


Dragonfly likely builds on a lot of DoD projects that involve autonomous flight; the chassis as a reasonable resemblance to Curiosity, many of the subsystems likely have high heritage, etc.

There probably is some DoD project that uses the advances in machine vision to produce a helicopter that can land autonomously. There are still a lot of novel issues for Dragonfly. The Titan atmosphere is much colder than Earth and the gases in it are different from Earth. On Earth icing is a problem for aircraft. There might be an equivalent problem on Titan. The heat from the RTG could melt the ice that makes up the Titan surface. The comms link with Earth could be lost if a hill gets in the way. There are a lot of issues to think about.
Title: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Star One on 11/10/2018 09:26 AM

So this is hard to communicate, but I suggest not assuming, either now or after the selection, that you know "why" NASA makes the selection that they do. People tend to assume things like "They picked target X because they are interested in target X and not the other target." But the reality is that the actual selections of Discovery and New Frontiers missions tend to have to do primarily with the specific proposals and not larger strategic concerns....

So you are saying that the choice is driven by the quality of the engineering rather than by a decision that comets are more interesting than Titan. And that you know of at least one specific case where the public speculation was entirely incorrect. That's interesting to hear.

@ncb1397...A flying vehicle is very different from something that descends on a parachute and sits there. Some of the instruments will be similar, but apart from that I don't see much commonality.


Dragonfly likely builds on a lot of DoD projects that involve autonomous flight; the chassis as a reasonable resemblance to Curiosity, many of the subsystems likely have high heritage, etc.

There probably is some DoD project that uses the advances in machine vision to produce a helicopter that can land autonomously. There are still a lot of novel issues for Dragonfly. The Titan atmosphere is much colder than Earth and the gases in it are different from Earth. On Earth icing is a problem for aircraft. There might be an equivalent problem on Titan. The heat from the RTG could melt the ice that makes up the Titan surface. The comms link with Earth could be lost if a hill gets in the way. There are a lot of issues to think about.

You’re a bit behind the curve there as autonomous helicopters are actually quite well advanced with numerous projects from a variety of companies and nations. The reason it isn’t more widespread at least in the US is more cultural within the military than the technology itself.

This article contains a round up on some of them.

http://www.nationaldefensemagazine.org/articles/2018/2/20/autonomous-helicopters-seen-as-wave-of-the-future
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Don2 on 11/11/2018 08:44 AM
You've mentioned 'strategic concerns' a few times. I'm not really clear on what you mean by that. Does that have to do with the decadal survey?
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: ncb1397 on 11/11/2018 02:21 PM
"Strategic concerns" seems to carry high weight, at least in the Obama/Bolden administration. All the missions selected - Lucy/Psyche/Osiris-Rex/Insight were Mars/Asteroids which were the administration's strategic priorities.
Previously, a wide net was cast, like Juno to Jupiter and New Horizons to Pluto which were the previous 2 New Frontiers selections. When New Horizons was selected, a new administrator came in a month later,Sean O'Keafe, and he looked like he was going to kill it. Just shows how much influence can come from the top - if not during the selection process, after the selection process retro-actively.

Lunar sample return may have lost out for New Frontiers 4 because the down select was done at almost the same time as SPD-1 signature and therefore wasn't influenced.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Blackstar on 11/11/2018 02:39 PM
You've mentioned 'strategic concerns' a few times. I'm not really clear on what you mean by that. Does that have to do with the decadal survey?

Sorry, I should have been clearer on that. In this case, I do not mean in terms of the decadal survey. I'll try to clarify:

Discovery missions can be to any target in the solar system. The decadal survey says so. So no matter where you go, there you are. New Frontiers missions are established by a list in the decadal survey, so at least for now, in order to propose a New Frontiers mission it has to come from that list. That's the limit of the decadal survey for these two mission types.

However, there are other concerns that could affect mission selection, and these could be "strategic," by which I mean they are concerns established outside of the missions themselves. An example of a strategic concern could be the director of the Planetary Science Division and/or the Associate Administrator for SMD's interest in maintaining balance across the solar system in choice of targets. For example, if you have selected five asteroid/comet missions in a row and no Venus missions, there could be a strategic interest in spreading around the science and choosing a Venus mission if one is selectable. (That last part is key.)

But another could be if there is a new set of goals for NASA as an agency, and the AA for SMD wants to make sure that the Science Mission Directorate is contributing to those goals. An example for this would be how, during the second half of the 2000s, NASA was pursuing the Vision for Space Exploration to return to the Moon. The AA for SMD at that time, Alan Stern, publicly stated that his goal was to make sure that SMD contributed to the new agency direction toward lunar exploration. In that case, NASA might have been biased in favor of choosing lunar missions like GRAIL (in 2007) over non-lunar missions--because he wanted the NASA administrator to see that SMD was supporting the top agency goals of returning to the Moon.

So you see, there are other concerns that selecting officials consider when they decide which mission to develop. The way it has been explained to me is that after the review board has evaluated all the mission proposals, they come up with a small list of missions that they consider "selectable." That list goes to the director of PSD, who writes a memo that says "Of missions A, B, C and D, I think you should down-select to A and C because of the following issues." Then that goes to the AA for the Science Mission Directorate. That person looks at A, B, C and D, as well as the memo from the director of PSD, and they then down-select to however many they want to fund. Then those two get further study, and further review. I think that a new review team then says "We have looked at the two down-selected missions, and here are their strengths and weaknesses in terms of science, engineering, schedule and cost risk." Then, after all that, the selecting official--the Associate Administrator for SMD--makes a decision on which mission to develop.

A factor that could enter into this decision is the cost risk. If, for example, NASA is getting hammered in Congress and the press (and by OMB) over cost overruns on its missions, then the AA for SMD may feel a lot of pressure to keep missions within their cost caps, and so he or she may select the mission that they consider more likely to stay within the box. That was certainly the case when Alan Stern was AA--he publicly stated numerous times that cost control was an overriding concern of his. But cost is just one factor among many.

But, as I noted earlier, what often happens is that the actual strengths and weaknesses of the individual proposals themselves (which we on the outside never learn about) are the key factors. We on the outside look at the decision and say "The AA picked Proposal C because it has been 25 years since the last Venus mission and so they wanted a Venus mission." But the reality is that we don't know, and it is more likely that the decision was made because of the strengths and weaknesses of the proposal than it is because of one of these external strategic considerations.
Title: Re: New Frontiers 4
Post by: Blackstar on 11/13/2018 02:25 AM
"Strategic concerns" seems to carry high weight

And what I'm saying is that they don't. People assume that, but they don't carry the weight that people think they do.

I talked about Discovery selection with PIs who lost and told me why they lost. And I also talked to a former AA who said--I'm paraphrasing--I'm always amused when people say they think that I made my decision because of X, and that wasn't the reason at all...