Author Topic: NASA Announces New Rover to Close Out Decade of New Missions  (Read 50628 times)

Online Chris Bergin

Dec. 04, 2012

Dwayne Brown/Sarah DeWitt
Headquarters, Washington           
202/358-1726/358-2451
dwayne.c.brown@nasa.gov/ sarah.l.dewitt@nasa.gov


RELEASE: 12-420

NASA ANNOUNCES ROBUST MULTI-YEAR MARS PROGRAM; NEW ROVER TO CLOSE OUT DECADE OF NEW MISSIONS

WASHINGTON -- Building on the success of Curiosity's Red Planet
landing, NASA has announced plans for a robust multi-year Mars
program, including a new robotic science rover set to launch in 2020.
This announcement affirms the agency's commitment to a bold
exploration program that meets our nation's scientific and human
exploration objectives.

"The Obama administration is committed to a robust Mars exploration
program," NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said. "With this next
mission, we're ensuring America remains the world leader in the
exploration of the Red Planet, while taking another significant step
toward sending humans there in the 2030s."

The planned portfolio includes the Curiosity and Opportunity rovers;
two NASA spacecraft and contributions to one European spacecraft
currently orbiting Mars; the 2013 launch of the Mars Atmosphere and
Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) orbiter to study the Martian upper
atmosphere; the Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations,
Geodesy and Heat Transport (InSight) mission, which will take the
first look into the deep interior of Mars; and participation in ESA's
2016 and 2018 ExoMars missions, including providing "Electra"
telecommunication radios to ESA's 2016 mission and a critical element
of the premier astrobiology instrument on the 2018 ExoMars rover.

The plan to design and build a new Mars robotic science rover with a
launch in 2020 comes only months after the agency announced InSight,
which will launch in 2016, bringing a total of seven NASA missions
operating or being planned to study and explore our Earth-like
neighbor.

The 2020 mission will constitute another step toward being responsive
to high-priority science goals and the president's challenge of
sending humans to Mars orbit in the 2030s.

The future rover development and design will be based on the Mars
Science Laboratory (MSL) architecture that successfully carried the
Curiosity rover to the Martian surface this summer. This will ensure
mission costs and risks are as low as possible, while still
delivering a highly capable rover with a proven landing system. The
mission will constitute a vital component of a broad portfolio of
Mars exploration missions in development for the coming decade.

The mission will advance the science priorities of the National
Research Council's 2011 Planetary Science Decadal Survey and responds
to the findings of the Mars Program Planning Group established
earlier this year to assist NASA in restructuring its Mars
Exploration Program.

"The challenge to restructure the Mars Exploration Program has turned
from the seven minutes of terror for the Curiosity landing to the
start of seven years of innovation," NASA's associate administrator
for science, and astronaut John Grunsfeld said. "This mission concept
fits within the current and projected Mars exploration budget, builds
on the exciting discoveries of Curiosity, and takes advantage of a
favorable launch opportunity."

The specific payload and science instruments for the 2020 mission will
be openly competed, following the Science Mission Directorate's
established processes for instrument selection. This process will
begin with the establishment of a science definition team that will
be tasked to outline the scientific objectives for the mission.

This mission fits within the five-year budget plan in the president's
Fiscal Year 2013 budget request, and is contingent on future
appropriations.

Plans also will include opportunities for infusing new capabilities
developed through investments by NASA's Space Technology Program,
Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, and
contributions from international partners.

For information about NASA Mars activities, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/mars

Offline Robotbeat

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I wonder if Curiosity will still be functioning. After all, Opportunity is still functioning after almost 9 years, and MSL is supposed to be designed to last longer (for base mission).
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

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Offline jacqmans

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MEDIA ADVISORY: M12-234

NASA'S JOHN GRUNSFELD SPEAKS WITH MEDIA ABOUT NEW MARS MISSION

WASHINGTON -- NASA's associate administrator for science, astronaut
John Grunsfeld, today announced plans for a robust multi-year Mars
program, including a new robotic science rover to launch in 2020.
Grunsfeld will host a media briefing on these plans at 7 p.m. EST (4
p.m. PST) today at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical
Union meeting in San Francisco.

The briefing will be held in the Moscone Convention Center West, 747
Howard St., Room 3000. Reporters attending must be registered as
press for the meeting.

The briefing will be streamed live online and reporters will be able
to ask questions via an online chat. Instructions are available from
the meeting website at:

http://go.nasa.gov/QEQeAU

Media also may e-mail questions in advance of or during the briefing.
Send e-mails with name and media affiliation to Steve Cole at

stephen.e.cole@nasa.gov.

The briefing will also be broadcast via UStream at:


http://www.ustream.tv/nasajpl2

For information about NASA Mars activities, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/mars

Offline Danderman

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Anyone who complained that the Obama administration was ignoring Mars was not correct.

Offline Longhorn John

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Anyone who complained that the Obama administration was ignoring Mars was not correct.


It's only another Rover. The public won't be interested until it's humans.

Offline Star One

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Anyone who complained that the Obama administration was ignoring Mars was not correct.


It's only another Rover. The public won't be interested until it's humans.

The amount of public interest shown in Curiosity has shown that not to be the case.

Offline Eric Hedman

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Anyone who complained that the Obama administration was ignoring Mars was not correct.


It's only another Rover. The public won't be interested until it's humans.

The amount of public interest shown in Curiosity has shown that not to be the case.
I think the interest will decline unless this rover offers something new over MSL.  I'm curious if it will end up with instruments that can do significantly more than MSL.

Offline neilh

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Anyone who complained that the Obama administration was ignoring Mars was not correct.


It's only another Rover. The public won't be interested until it's humans.

The amount of public interest shown in Curiosity has shown that not to be the case.
I think the interest will decline unless this rover offers something new over MSL.  I'm curious if it will end up with instruments that can do significantly more than MSL.

Other than mechanisms for sample return, what are the main sorts of not-yet-sent instruments scientists would like to send on future rovers?
Someone is wrong on the Internet.
http://xkcd.com/386/

Online Chris Bergin

Isn't it a bit fluffy to boldy claim involvement with ExoMars after pulling out? I assume that noted hardware was already built/or paid for by the time of the cancellation?

Online Chris Bergin

Remember, this is coming up next. I'll listen in, but I'm writing it up, so if someone wants to cover, it'd be appreciated.

MEDIA ADVISORY: M12-234

NASA'S JOHN GRUNSFELD SPEAKS WITH MEDIA ABOUT NEW MARS MISSION

WASHINGTON -- NASA's associate administrator for science, astronaut
John Grunsfeld, today announced plans for a robust multi-year Mars
program, including a new robotic science rover to launch in 2020.
Grunsfeld will host a media briefing on these plans at 7 p.m. EST (4
p.m. PST) today at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical
Union meeting in San Francisco.

The briefing will be held in the Moscone Convention Center West, 747
Howard St., Room 3000. Reporters attending must be registered as
press for the meeting.

The briefing will be streamed live online and reporters will be able
to ask questions via an online chat. Instructions are available from
the meeting website at:

http://go.nasa.gov/QEQeAU

Media also may e-mail questions in advance of or during the briefing.
Send e-mails with name and media affiliation to Steve Cole at

stephen.e.cole@nasa.gov.

The briefing will also be broadcast via UStream at:


http://www.ustream.tv/nasajpl2

For information about NASA Mars activities, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/mars


Offline arachnitect

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Isn't it a bit fluffy to boldy claim involvement with ExoMars after pulling out? I assume that noted hardware was already built/or paid for by the time of the cancellation?

Sort of, yes.

The Electra relay package was going on TGO no matter what, and contributing the instrument to the rover is a pretty small contribution relative to the original NASA/ESA plan.

Online Chris Bergin

Isn't it a bit fluffy to boldy claim involvement with ExoMars after pulling out? I assume that noted hardware was already built/or paid for by the time of the cancellation?

Sort of, yes.

The Electra relay package was going on TGO no matter what, and contributing the instrument to the rover is a pretty small contribution relative to the original NASA/ESA plan.

Copy that, thanks!

Offline simonbp

This effectively means Mars Sample Return, as we know it, is dead. The new rover may have some caching capabilities, but sample return is now basically put off until someone decides to actually send humans.

As for what the new rover will have on it, digging through the old Astrobiology Field Laboratory studies (the original MSL-derived follow-on) could be informative.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Astrobiology_Field_Laboratory

Online Blackstar

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This is going to be a caching rover for Mars Sample Return.

They didn't use those words, but read the other thread.

Offline Robotbeat

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This effectively means Mars Sample Return, as we know it, is dead. The new rover may have some caching capabilities, but sample return is now basically put off until someone decides to actually send humans.

As for what the new rover will have on it, digging through the old Astrobiology Field Laboratory studies (the original MSL-derived follow-on) could be informative.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Astrobiology_Field_Laboratory
When was it ever alive?

This announcement changes nothing WRT sample return, except this rover may have caching capabilities.
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

To the maximum extent practicable, the Federal Government shall plan missions to accommodate the space transportation services capabilities of United States commercial providers. US law http://goo.gl/YZYNt0

Offline arachnitect

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The contribution to Exomars2018 is (almost certainly) Urey:

I'm wrong again... It's not Urey, it's MOMA

http://exploration.esa.int/science-e/www/object/index.cfm?fobjectid=45103&fbodylongid=2132
« Last Edit: 12/05/2012 12:36 AM by arachnitect »

Online Blackstar

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This effectively means Mars Sample Return, as we know it, is dead. The new rover may have some caching capabilities, but sample return is now basically put off until someone decides to actually send humans.


What? That's nonsensical.

The decadal survey said "Do sample return, step 1. Step 1 is to build a caching rover. There is no Plan B for Mars."

They're building a rover. I can almost guarantee you that it will have caching capabilities. Therefore, it is step 1 for sample return.

Offline Rocket Science

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Webcast started...
"The laws of physics are unforgiving"
~Rob, Physics instructor, aviator, vintage auto racer

Offline Star One

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Quote
U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., who has been critical of past cutbacks in NASA's planetary science program, applauded the plan announced today.

However, Schiff said he favored launching the rover in 2018 — when the alignment of Earth and Mars is more favorable, permitting the launch of a heavier payload. "I will be working with NASA, the White House and my colleagues in Congress to see whether advancing the launch date is possible, and what it would entail," he said.

http://cosmiclog.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/12/04/15678579-nasa-plans-2020-mars-rover-remake?lite

Could they get this built and launched in five to six years?
« Last Edit: 12/04/2012 11:05 PM by Star One »

Online Chris Bergin

Yeah, that's this:

For Immediate Release

Tuesday, December 04, 2012
 Contact: Patrick Boland

boland@mail.house.gov; (202) 225-3278
 

 

Rep. Adam Schiff Responds to Announcement of New Mars Rover

 

Washington, DC – Today, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) applauded the new Mars program missions announced by NASA, including a new robotic science rover set to launch in 2020. Over the past year, Schiff has worked with the planetary science community and his congressional colleagues to urge NASA to reconsider its ill-advised cuts to the Mars Program. Today’s announcement represents a major step away from that earlier decision, and Schiff will continue to push for expanded funding for the Mars Program through the regular Appropriations process and end of the year legislation.

 

“I am pleased that NASA has announced the next steps in its robotic exploration of Mars, namely the launch of a Curiosity-class rover to the Martian surface in 2020,” said Rep. Schiff. “ In its few short months on Mars, Curiosity has broadened our understanding of our planetary neighbor, and the findings announced thus far point to even greater discoveries as Curiosity continues to explore Gale Crater and Mount Sharp.  An upgraded rover with additional instrumentation and capabilities is a logical next step that builds upon now proven landing and surface operations systems. 

 

“While a 2020 launch would be favorable due to the alignment of Earth and Mars, a launch in 2018 would be even more advantageous as it would allow for an even greater payload to be launched to Mars.  I will be working with NASA, the White House and my colleagues in Congress to see whether advancing the launch date is possible and what it would entail.”

 

According to NASA, the planned expansion of the Mars exploration program would consist of the current constellation of spacecraft on the surface and in orbit around Mars, as well s the new NASA rover and contributions to Europe’s planned ExoMars mission. The portfolio includes the Curiosity and Opportunity rovers; two NASA spacecraft and contributions to one European spacecraft currently orbiting Mars; the 2013 launch of the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) orbiter to study the Martian upper atmosphere; the Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport (InSight) mission, which will take the first look into the deep interior of Mars; and participation in ESA's 2016 and 2018 ExoMars missions, including providing "Electra" telecommunication radios to ESA's 2016 mission and a critical element of the premier astrobiology instrument on the 2018 ExoMars rover. 

 

The plan to design and build a new Mars robotic science rover with a launch in 2020 comes only months after the agency announced InSight, which will launch in 2016, bringing a total of seven NASA missions operating or being planned to study and explore our Earth-like neighbor.  The 2020 mission will constitute another step toward being responsive to high-priority science goals and the president's challenge of sending humans to Mars orbit in the 2030s.

 

The future rover development and design will be based on the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) architecture that successfully carried the Curiosity rover to the Martian surface this summer. This will ensure mission costs and risks are as low as possible, while still delivering a highly capable rover with a proven landing system. The mission will constitute a vital component of a broad portfolio of Mars exploration missions in development for the coming decade.

 

To read more, please click here. 

 

###

 

Patrick M. Boland

Communications Director | Congressman Adam B. Schiff


 

Offline arachnitect

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Grunsfeld speaking at Press conference (at AGU)

Opens by talking about MSL, Maven, InSight.

Jim Green also in attendance.

Offline Ronsmytheiii

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"Every vision is a joke until the first man accomplishes it; once realized, it becomes commonplace." - Robert Goddard

Online Blackstar

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Just said that the instrument suite could include a drill, and could include caching "for future sample return."

There you go.

Offline LegendCJS

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Quote
U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., who has been critical of past cutbacks in NASA's planetary science program, applauded the plan announced today.

However, Schiff said he favored launching the rover in 2018 — when the alignment of Earth and Mars is more favorable, permitting the launch of a heavier payload. "I will be working with NASA, the White House and my colleagues in Congress to see whether advancing the launch date is possible, and what it would entail," he said.

http://cosmiclog.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/12/04/15678579-nasa-plans-2020-mars-rover-remake?lite

Could they get this built and launched in five to six years?
Wow, a congressman who knows orbital mechanics.  Not sure if I believe it or if he just heard the fact from somewhere.  How many extra kg could this 2018 opportunity give a mission anyway in comparison to a 2020 launch?
« Last Edit: 12/04/2012 11:13 PM by LegendCJS »
Remember: if we want this whole space thing to work out we have to optimize for cost!

Offline Ronsmytheiii

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spare MMTRG for Curiosity will be used for new rover, and will use more Curiosity spare parts and team for new rover.

Could have done something for 2018, but did not have enough for budget, so delay for a rover.
« Last Edit: 12/04/2012 11:16 PM by Ronsmytheiii »
"Every vision is a joke until the first man accomplishes it; once realized, it becomes commonplace." - Robert Goddard

Offline arachnitect

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Grunsfeld: not possible to fly lander by 2018. Worth waiting until 2020 to get rover.

Online Blackstar

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Wow, a congressman who knows orbital mechanics.  Not sure if I believe it or if he just heard the fact from somewhere.  How many extra kg could this 2018 opportunity give a mission anyway in comparison to a 2020 launch?

Common knowledge. Schiff knows JPL. He's been told this by lots of people.

2018 is really pushing it, however. That's a rapid turnaround, and missing that window costs a LOT of money (we saw that with Curiosity with a $400 million hit). So it might be best to plan for 2020 and hit that window with 99% probability than shoot for 2018 and have a 75% chance of hitting it.

Offline Star One

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spare MMTRG for Curiosity will be used for new rover, and will use more Curiosity spare parts and team for new rover.

Could have done something for 2018, but did not have enough for budget, so delay for a rover.

How much percentage wise in the way of spare parts for Curiosity will this rover be able to utilise? Are there enough to to significantly reduce costs in its build?
« Last Edit: 12/04/2012 11:21 PM by Star One »

Offline Tea Party Space Czar

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Total cost for MSL 2.0 is $1.5 Billion to include the cost of the Launch Vehicle.

Hopeful we make it this time.  This coincidentally is another Mars Flagship in terms of cost.

Respectfully,
Andrew Gasser
TEA Party in Space
President, TEA Party in Space

What we want and what we can afford are two very different things.

Demanding space policy that is fiscally responsible and utilizing the free market system.

Offline Star One

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Total cost for MSL 2.0 is $1.5 Billion to include the cost of the Launch Vehicle.

Hopeful we make it this time.  This coincidentally is another Mars Flagship in terms of cost.

Respectfully,
Andrew Gasser
TEA Party in Space

Atlas V 501 again I assume?

Online Chris Bergin

Really great few minutes on why these rovers help human exploration. Worth using as a standalone article sep from this news.

Offline simonbp

When was it ever alive?

This announcement changes nothing WRT sample return, except this rover may have caching capabilities.

There had been a lingering chance of a sample return mission (which Chris just wrote up last week) in the 2020s, following from its recommendation by the Decadal Survey. That now seems very unlikely, as there would be huge resistance to two very expensive Mars surface missions in a row.

Offline kevin-rf

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Wow, looks like NASA once again working to get back to a mission every window. I applaud our new rover overlords!

I was going to say, Party Like it's 1999, then realized '99 was not a good year at mars. So Party Like it's 2018 ;)
If you're happy and you know it,
It's your med's!

Offline Robotbeat

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When was it ever alive?

This announcement changes nothing WRT sample return, except this rover may have caching capabilities.

There had been a lingering chance of a sample return mission (which Chris just wrote up last week) in the 2020s, following from its recommendation by the Decadal Survey. That now seems very unlikely, as there would be huge resistance to two very expensive Mars surface missions in a row.
Except, that's the very point of doing caching.
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

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Offline notsorandom

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Following the "What Comes After MSL" thread there was talk of a few options for the cashing rover. Is this a much bigger more capable rover than the rovers in the latest MSR studies?

Offline Star One

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What happened about the pressing need for a new orbiter in this time frame or are they going to pass responsibility for communications relaying over vehicles such as MAVEN & the ExoMars orbiter?
« Last Edit: 12/04/2012 11:34 PM by Star One »

Online Blackstar

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When was it ever alive?

This announcement changes nothing WRT sample return, except this rover may have caching capabilities.

There had been a lingering chance of a sample return mission (which Chris just wrote up last week) in the 2020s, following from its recommendation by the Decadal Survey. That now seems very unlikely, as there would be huge resistance to two very expensive Mars surface missions in a row.

You completely misunderstand this. Grunsfeld just said that the rover could include caching for "future sample return." He also said it would be responsive to the decadal survey. The decadal survey says "do a mission to cache samples for sample return."

This is MAX-C by another name.

Online Chris Bergin

Mr Grunsfeld noting it's more like a crewed mission to Mars would be EM-2 style....as opposed to landing on the first mission.

Online Blackstar

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Following the "What Comes After MSL" thread there was talk of a few options for the cashing rover. Is this a much bigger more capable rover than the rovers in the latest MSR studies?

This is a caching rover. This is a more capable version of a caching rover, but it's a caching rover.

Offline Tea Party Space Czar

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When was it ever alive?

This announcement changes nothing WRT sample return, except this rover may have caching capabilities.

There had been a lingering chance of a sample return mission (which Chris just wrote up last week) in the 2020s, following from its recommendation by the Decadal Survey. That now seems very unlikely, as there would be huge resistance to two very expensive Mars surface missions in a row.

We will need some orbiter type missions to replace aging missions.  Mars Odyssey is gonna need to be replaced at some point.  Even if it is just a relay comm mission. 

Obviously we want science on board but we need to relay data. 

But there are people who they can do that. ;)

Respectfully,
Andrew Gasser
TEA Party in Space
President, TEA Party in Space

What we want and what we can afford are two very different things.

Demanding space policy that is fiscally responsible and utilizing the free market system.

Offline Star One

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When was it ever alive?

This announcement changes nothing WRT sample return, except this rover may have caching capabilities.


There had been a lingering chance of a sample return mission (which Chris just wrote up last week) in the 2020s, following from its recommendation by the Decadal Survey. That now seems very unlikely, as there would be huge resistance to two very expensive Mars surface missions in a row.

We will need some orbiter type missions to replace aging missions.  Mars Odyssey is gonna need to be replaced at some point.  Even if it is just a relay comm mission. 

Obviously we want science on board but we need to relay data. 

But there are people who they can do that. ;)

Respectfully,
Andrew Gasser
TEA Party in Space

Well this is what has puzzled me, how comes this requirement has suddenly disappeared?

Offline Robotbeat

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Maven does include a relay package. Any future orbiters would almost surely include relay capability. European (etc) assets may be able to relay, as well.
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

To the maximum extent practicable, the Federal Government shall plan missions to accommodate the space transportation services capabilities of United States commercial providers. US law http://goo.gl/YZYNt0

Offline arachnitect

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Wired brings some better questions:

2020 (2021) has better landing options than MSL, so we have more than just the 5 MSL options available to us.

Ability to constrain ellipse by "tuning up" EDL architecture based on MSL experience would open up even more sites.

Caching not assured: open to science definition team.

"not locking us into a sample return mission right away"
« Last Edit: 12/04/2012 11:40 PM by arachnitect »

Offline Star One

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Maven does include a relay package. Any future orbiters would almost surely include relay capability. European (etc) assets may be able to relay, as well.

It has been confirmed, as far as I am aware, that the ExoMars orbiter will have this package as well.

Online Blackstar

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MAVEN gets to Mars in 2014. TGO gets to Mars in 2016 or 17. Figure both of them can operate as relays for up to 10 years. You don't need to think about a replacement orbiter until late in this decade. Not a problem.

And you don't need relays. You can operate without them.

Offline arachnitect

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Q: What's the tagline for this rover?

A: "It's a Science and Exploration Rover"

Online Blackstar

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Caching not assured: open to science definition team.

But he will "front load" the science definition team to favor caching.

Offline Star One

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MAVEN gets to Mars in 2014. TGO gets to Mars in 2016 or 17. Figure both of them can operate as relays for up to 10 years. You don't need to think about a replacement orbiter until late in this decade. Not a problem.

And you don't need relays. You can operate without them.

But doesn't operating without relays slow down data delivery?

Offline Tea Party Space Czar

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Here we go - Pu238 discussion - huge issue for us at TEA Party in Space.

We can all agree on this, left, right, middle.

MMRTG is the best and cheapest way to go.  Solar still requires Pu238 either way!

Respectfully,
Andrew Gasser
TEA Party in Space
President, TEA Party in Space

What we want and what we can afford are two very different things.

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Offline arachnitect

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Q: Solar vs. MMRTG?

A: Will study solar power as backup. RTG offers more performance at lower cost. A lot of systems engineering went into using the RTG for heat as well as electricity. Would probably need RHUs anyways, so would need launch approval for radioactive payload either way.

Offline Tea Party Space Czar

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There is no Pu-238 funding at this time - I would like to ask Mr. Grunsfeld where he got that information.

Respectively,
Andrew Gasser
TEA Party in Space
President, TEA Party in Space

What we want and what we can afford are two very different things.

Demanding space policy that is fiscally responsible and utilizing the free market system.

Online Blackstar

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MAVEN gets to Mars in 2014. TGO gets to Mars in 2016 or 17. Figure both of them can operate as relays for up to 10 years. You don't need to think about a replacement orbiter until late in this decade. Not a problem.

And you don't need relays. You can operate without them.

But doesn't operating without relays slow down data delivery?

Yeah, but you don't need it. And like I wrote, figure that they will have MAVEN until 2024 and TGO until 2016. We will have lots of relay capability when this rover reaches Mars in 2021.

RELAY IS NOT AN ISSUE.
« Last Edit: 12/04/2012 11:48 PM by Blackstar »

Offline Star One

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Quote
While the mission will welcomed by hard-rock Mars scientists, it will have some enemies.

First, it is another strike against planetary scientists who want to explore places further out in the Solar System. The astrobiological significance of the Jupiter moon Europa, which harbours a salt water ocean under a thin shell of ice, has long intrigued scientists. But most Europa mission designs have come in with price tags of several billion dollars.

http://blogs.nature.com/news/2012/12/nasa-announces-mars-science-rover-in-2020.html

Good point raised here, looks like the outer solar system is off the table for now.
« Last Edit: 12/04/2012 11:49 PM by Star One »

Offline arachnitect

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"Curiosity should tweet REM in Spanish"


Just thought that needed to be documented.

Offline arachnitect

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Q: Is there any technical reason this couldn't be moved up to 2018?

A: "I think 2020 is ambitious." Moving up might exclude science investigations.

Offline arachnitect

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Possibility that Britain may contribute life detection instrument.

End press conference.
« Last Edit: 12/04/2012 11:53 PM by arachnitect »

Online Chris Bergin

Possibility that Britain may contribute life detection instrument.

End press conference.

Pricked my ears up! Can't believe how much the UK is getting mentioned in space stuff lately! :)

Brilliant man. As soon as someone gets the recording of that up, it'll be used for a seperate article to the new rover announcement. Ran out of time for an expansive article tonight, but there's a lot of good stuff, especially relations to human exploration, in that event.

Online Chris Bergin

Thanks to arachnitect for some of the play-by-play coverage. Much appreciated!

Offline arachnitect

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Thanks to arachnitect for some of the play-by-play coverage. Much appreciated!

I didn't get everything, but it should be archived. Some of the questions made my eyes glaze over.

One thing that came up in response to questions about budget was that using MSL heritage and parts cuts costs -but perhaps even more importantly it increases confidence in cost estimates. They talked about this a lot with the InSight mission selection earlier this year (reuses Phoenix hardware).

Offline Robotbeat

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There is no Pu-238 funding at this time - I would like to ask Mr. Grunsfeld where he got that information.

Respectively,
Andrew Gasser
TEA Party in Space
It's probably in the budget request, which is what this whole announcement is predicated on.
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

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Online catdlr

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A partial video reply of the announcement:

Published on Dec 4, 2012 by VideoFromSpace
NASA will launch a new Mars science rover with new tools to study the Red Planet. Former astronaut and associate administrator of NASA's Science Mission Directorate John Grunsfeld outlines the next 8 years of Mars exploration.

Tony De La Rosa

Offline spectre9

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I don't like it.

Big fan on Mars and sample return but I don't think it's worth it to pass up Europa.

Mars is now enjoying a 5th rover while Europa can't get one orbiter?

I hate it when one of my jaded rants comes true.

From the ESA service module thread.

Quote
Landing the rover is difficult and expensive the science is the juicy part. I think NASA should supply the technology but that doesn't mean they want to pay for it unfortunately.

Was it about the money?  ???

Online Blackstar

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Possibility that Britain may contribute life detection instrument.

End press conference.

Pricked my ears up! Can't believe how much the UK is getting mentioned in space stuff lately! :)

Brilliant man. As soon as someone gets the recording of that up, it'll be used for a seperate article to the new rover announcement. Ran out of time for an expansive article tonight, but there's a lot of good stuff, especially relations to human exploration, in that event.

This was a large meeting of scientists where the head of NASA's Science Mission Directorate talked about a rover mission that was prioritized in the planetary science decadal survey. He spoke for 60 minutes and spent two minutes discussing human spaceflight. It's not a human spaceflight story.

Offline stone

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I wait for the announcement of opportunity. The instruments selected will make what mission will be like. 

Online Blackstar

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I don't like it.

Big fan on Mars and sample return but I don't think it's worth it to pass up Europa.

Mars is now enjoying a 5th rover while Europa can't get one orbiter?

I hate it when one of my jaded rants comes true.

From the ESA service module thread.

Quote
Landing the rover is difficult and expensive the science is the juicy part. I think NASA should supply the technology but that doesn't mean they want to pay for it unfortunately.

Was it about the money?  ???

From 2009-2011 the U.S. science community, with substantial international participation, conducted an effort called the planetary science decadal survey. That report can be found on the internet. Mars Sample Return (the first part of which is a rover to cache samples for eventual return to Earth) and a Europa mission were ranked equally in terms of science priority. However, the rover mission could be reduced in size and done for under $2 billion. At the time, there was no way to do the Europa mission for that amount. So the decadal survey ranked the Mars rover first and the Europa mission second.

Since that time, NASA has sponsored three studies at JPL about how to do Europa missions. Those studies have beaten the cost of a Europa flyby (no longer an orbiter) in Jupiter orbit to something that is far more affordable. However, the fact remains that the decadal survey ranked the Mars mission first and the Europa mission second, and NASA is respecting that decision with this announcement.

Offline spectre9

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Yes Blackstar that is true but it's a message for ESA.

"You want a large payload on Mars, land it yourself. This technology is USA developed, we're mighty proud of it and we're not giving it away"

International cooperation? Who needs it when others can't replicate your technology?  ::)

Online Blackstar

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Yes Blackstar that is true but it's a message for ESA.

"You want a large payload on Mars, land it yourself. This technology is USA developed, we're mighty proud of it and we're not giving it away"

That's not the message. If you want to find an implicit message in there, it is "We are not reliable enough as a partner." The US isn't denying them technology, but is apparently only going to cooperate at the instrument level, not the mission level.

Offline spectre9

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But it saves NASA money by not building the rover themselves?

Was it about the money or was it about ownership of the rover?

Online Blackstar

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But it saves NASA money by not building the rover themselves?

Was it about the money or was it about ownership of the rover?

Huh?

If you are referring to the previous plans, they went something like this:

2005 or so:
NASA planning to build a rover called Mars Astrobiology Lab
ESA planning to build a rover called ExoMars

2006 or so:
NASA and ESA agree to cooperate on Mars

2008 or so:
NASA and ESA agree to use a single skycrane to land two rovers on Mars: ExoMars and a NASA rover called MAX-C

2010:
In order to fit two rovers on a single skycrane, you have to alter the backshell of the entry, descent and landing system. This, plus the engineering to lower two rovers to the ground, potentially blows the cost of the joint spacecraft through the roof

2011:
Planetary science decadal survey does NOT say "do not do a joint landing mission." It DOES say "Do MAX-C, but find a way so that the total cost to the U.S. does not exceed $2.5 billion (in 2015 dollars)."
Also (and this never really became public), ESA does a cost estimate for ExoMars and determines that it is going to cost a lot more money than they expected. (Surprise!)

Late 2011:
NASA comes up with a way to do MAX-C for under $1.5 billion.

Early 2012:
The Obama administration produces a budget that cancels MAX-C.

Spring 2012:
NASA says that they still want to do a Mars mission in 2018/2020. They create the Mars Program Planning Group to develop options. (Note that the planetary science decadal survey told NASA: "Do MAX-C, but there is no other option for Mars." Now it looks like NASA has created its own advisory group to come up with an option for Mars. Some people interpret this as ignoring the advice that they previously asked for.)

September 2012:
The Mars Program Planning Group issues its findings, which are: do a sample caching rover like that recommended in the planetary science decadal survey.

Today.

Offline robertross

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There is no Pu-238 funding at this time - I would like to ask Mr. Grunsfeld where he got that information.

Respectively,
Andrew Gasser
TEA Party in Space
It's probably in the budget request, which is what this whole announcement is predicated on.
This is quite the announcement!

I'm glad that the Pu-238 issue has been brought up - first thing I thought of.

It might be in the budget request, but my question would be: will they be able to generate enough in time, considering where they currently are?

I'm thinking if all goes well (and people are trained up in time), it shouldn't be an issue, but I don't have the time to review my notes from Dwayne's postings on the subject.

first update thread: http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=16912.0
latest update thread: http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=30183.0

2nd update to add: 4.8 kilograms PU-238 used in the Curiosity Mars Rover
« Last Edit: 12/05/2012 02:26 AM by robertross »
Remembering those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our rights & freedoms, and for those injured, visible or otherwise, in that fight.

Offline Tea Party Space Czar

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There is no Pu-238 funding at this time - I would like to ask Mr. Grunsfeld where he got that information.

Respectively,
Andrew Gasser
TEA Party in Space
It's probably in the budget request, which is what this whole announcement is predicated on.
This is quite the announcement!

I'm glad that the Pu-238 issue has been brought up - first thing I thought of.

It might be in the budget request, but my question would be: will they be able to generate enough in time, considering where they currently are?

I'm thinking if all goes well (and people are trained up in time), it shouldn't be an issue, but I don't have the time to review my notes from Dwayne's postings on the subject.

first update thread: http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=16912.0
latest update thread: http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=30183.0

2nd update to add: 4.8 kilograms PU-238 used in the Curiosity Mars Rover

It is brought up every year.  And it is killed in the house.  We never even make it to the senate.  We must finish ITAR this year so next year we can really, tighten the nut, on Pu-238.

We will be working closely with congress, the senate, our members, and people on this forum, as well as industry.  We have some friends who might be able to give this a much harder push.

We are playing with fire here - half-life - and such.  I am not the Pu-238 expert here but I do know a lot about the process.  It is going to be a lot of work.

Respectfully,
Andrew Gasser
TEA Party in Space
President, TEA Party in Space

What we want and what we can afford are two very different things.

Demanding space policy that is fiscally responsible and utilizing the free market system.

Online Blackstar

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I didn't catch all of the Pu-238 discussion. However, they already have some Pu-238 in hand. That was going to go into an ASRG. I'm not sure how much they have (and the exact amount may be classified), but I vaguely remember that it was sufficient for two ASRGs. If they re-start Pu-238 production next year, they can realistically generate several more kilograms by 2020.

Now I'll take some guesses here: they could probably ramp up to 2.5 kilograms per-year by 2015. That means they could make maybe 10 kg by 2018, which is probably the latest that they could integrate it into the the MMRTG for the rover. So their plan might be to take some of what they have on hand, and manufacture some more, and then put that all in an MMRTG. (And it might be more complex than that, because some of the existing Pu-238 is old, so what they sometimes do is mix the new stuff in with the old, rather than have a combination of new bricks and old bricks--that way they have a single uniform batch that goes into the MMRTG.)

Now hopefully by the time they hold the next Discovery competition, which is probably in 2015 or so, they will also be able to offer an ASRG as government furnished equipment just like they did last round. So they'll need some more.

I think (all memory here) that our committee recommended in 2009 or so that they should ramp up to 5 kg per year, but they ultimately decided to go for 2.5 kg per year. They just did test samples in August. We'll see what they can do.
« Last Edit: 12/05/2012 03:32 AM by Blackstar »

Offline Bubbinski

I had wondered if a rover could be built out of a set of spare parts for Curiosity.  Now I have my answer. 

Hoping there's some life detection stuff in it, would love to see even better cameras too.  And I'd love it if this new rover ends up in a landing site at least as spectacular if not better than Gale Crater.  Valles Marineris?  Or somewhere by a giant volcano?  Can they land by the polar caps? 

Looking forward to this, will try to attend the launch if at all possible.  I know 2020's a long way off, but....I'm excited. 
I'll even excitedly look forward to "flags and footprints" and suborbital missions. Just fly...somewhere.

Offline spectre9

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Ok Blackstar thanks for that.

Helpful to have all the facts laid out.

MPPG wants a caching rover even though the Obama administration has already cancelled one.

Why is it cheaper this time around?

Will it stay within the specified cap?

I haven't read the whole survey but I have looked through the important parts about mission recommendations.

Online cleonard

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Why is it cheaper this time around?

Will it stay within the specified cap?


A big part of the cost is the engineering time.  There are thousands of pages of paper that will not need to be created.  Countless meetings will not be necessary.   It really adds up. 

If I read correctly, it looks like it will cost about a billion less for this partial remake of MSL.

Stay under the cost cap?  That's asking a lot, isn't it?  Who knows maybe they can pull it off.

Offline spectre9

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I've now had a look at the other 3 prospective MSL landing sites and I like Mawrth Vallis  8)

Nili Fossae has always been my favourite but I'm not sure NASA likes it.

The Mars team deserves this one with their tremendous public outreach for Curiosity. Well done to them.

I'll keep crowing about Europa and hopefully it's moved up in the 2020s.

I just stumbled on this link.

http://marsoweb.nas.nasa.gov/landingsites/

Really goes to show how big Mars is and how much there is to explore.

I hope it gets a better name than the last one  :P

Offline Star One

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I've now had a look at the other 3 prospective MSL landing sites and I like Mawrth Vallis  8)

Nili Fossae has always been my favourite but I'm not sure NASA likes it.

The Mars team deserves this one with their tremendous public outreach for Curiosity. Well done to them.

I'll keep crowing about Europa and hopefully it's moved up in the 2020s.

I just stumbled on this link.

http://marsoweb.nas.nasa.gov/landingsites/

Really goes to show how big Mars is and how much there is to explore.

I hope it gets a better name than the last one  :P


What's wrong with the name Curiosity then?

Be nice if after this they moved onto getting something to Titan, that must be a pressing scientific objective beyond Mars.

Offline Kaputnik

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Hoping there's some life detection stuff in it, would love to see even better cameras too.  And I'd love it if this new rover ends up in a landing site at least as spectacular if not better than Gale Crater.  Valles Marineris?  Or somewhere by a giant volcano?  Can they land by the polar caps? 

You want better cameras :o ? I'm absolutely blown away by what's being sent back from MSL. Have you downloaded any of the really big (10mb+) pans? The detail is staggering. Some of the shots of the rover itself are brilliant too. I don't think we need better cameras, personally...

On landing sites, I presume there are strong reasons to want to keep fairly close to the equator. Certainly not a polar site, anyway. This rover, from the sounds of it, will be meeting up with a sample return stage, which will want to launch into an equatorial orbit, or pretty close to one anyway. Nothing impossible about there being a plane change in there at some point, but it will add mass and therefore cost, and the further you get from the equatorial zone, the bigger than cost will be.
Waiting for joy and raptor

Offline Paul Howard

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A partial video reply of the announcement:

Published on Dec 4, 2012 by VideoFromSpace
NASA will launch a new Mars science rover with new tools to study the Red Planet. Former astronaut and associate administrator of NASA's Science Mission Directorate John Grunsfeld outlines the next 8 years of Mars exploration.



Interesting, but he's not a great public speaker.

Online Chris Bergin


Interesting, but he's not a great public speaker.

Mr Grunsfeld?

He's not presenting American Idol, he's the associate administrator of NASA's Science Mission Directorate John Grunsfeld, and a former Shuttle astronaut.

The man is a hero, so we'll have less of that nonsense.

Offline spectre9

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I've now had a look at the other 3 prospective MSL landing sites and I like Mawrth Vallis  8)

Nili Fossae has always been my favourite but I'm not sure NASA likes it.

The Mars team deserves this one with their tremendous public outreach for Curiosity. Well done to them.

I'll keep crowing about Europa and hopefully it's moved up in the 2020s.

I just stumbled on this link.

http://marsoweb.nas.nasa.gov/landingsites/

Really goes to show how big Mars is and how much there is to explore.

I hope it gets a better name than the last one  :P


What's wrong with the name Curiosity then?

Be nice if after this they moved onto getting something to Titan, that must be a pressing scientific objective beyond Mars.

Personal opinion on the name I guess. Not to my taste.

Titan is going to be eclipsed by Saturn making missions difficult. Once NASA has an ASRG spare I'm sure they will take a look at doing a Titan mare boat but it has to be very cheap under strict cost caps.

There are no real pressing objectives beyond Mars they all have a priority. It's way of bringing order to Chaos with so many tantalising targets for scientific exploration in the outer planets.

Link to the presentation here.

http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=24381.0

Offline Bubbinski

Oh, I agree the images from Curiosity have been stunning.  And if the 2020 rover flew with the exact same set I'd still be awed by the pics. 

I'd read that a zoom camera and a stereoscopic camera were originally intended for Curiosity but left out.  If they're put on this new rover there would be even more great pics.  But I do understand that there have to be tradeoffs; they only have so much space, weight, and power to work with.  If it came down to a choice, say, between life detection equipment and the zoom camera I'd go with the life detection stuff.
I'll even excitedly look forward to "flags and footprints" and suborbital missions. Just fly...somewhere.

Offline Star One

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Quote from: spectre9

Personal opinion on the name I guess. Not to my taste.

Titan is going to be eclipsed by Saturn making missions difficult. Once NASA has an ASRG spare I'm sure they will take a look at doing a Titan mare boat but it has to be very cheap under strict cost caps.

There are no real pressing objectives beyond Mars they all have a priority. It's way of bringing order to Chaos with so many tantalising targets for scientific exploration in the outer planets.

Link to the presentation here.

http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=24381.0


Thanks for the link. Made a start on reading that document.

Quote
SAN FRANCISCO — The unmanned rover that NASA plans to launch toward Mars in 2020 should gather up Red Planet rocks and dirt for delivery to Earth someday, some experts say.

"I hope and expect that its main mission will be to collect and cache a well-chosen set of samples for eventual return to Earth," Steve Squyres of Cornell University, principal investigator for NASA's Opportunity Mars rover, told SPACE.com via email.

http://www.space.com/18771-nasa-next-mars-rover-sample-caching.html
« Last Edit: 12/05/2012 02:46 PM by Star One »

Offline ugordan

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Once NASA has an ASRG spare I'm sure they will take a look at doing a Titan mare boat but it has to be very cheap under strict cost caps.

By then it will be too late since Earth won't be above the horizon for the boat to maintain direct-to-Earth comms from the northern seas. Titan's seasonal shift will move the north pole axis "away" from Earth for quite a number of years. The opportunity we had with the TiME mission was thrown away.

Offline ugordan

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I'd read that a zoom camera and a stereoscopic camera were originally intended for Curiosity but left out.

MSL Mastcam already is stereoscopic, but due to cost cuts you mention the focal lengths are not the same (a compromise from the original zoom capability) so 3D is not as straightforward as it was with MER since the right camera eye is effectively 3x the resolution of the left eye.

Offline Rocket Science

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I think John is a refreshing change from the typical “wooden” persons that would have his position and responsibly. The man is totally down to earth and displays a lack of ego than many “less accomplished” individuals...
"The laws of physics are unforgiving"
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Offline Robotbeat

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I think John is a refreshing change from the typical “wooden” persons that would have his position and responsibly. The man is totally down to earth and displays a lack of ego than many “less accomplished” individuals...
And seems to know what the heck he is talking about, even about only slightly related things like the GCR dose changing depending on the solar cycle.
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

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I think John is a refreshing change from the typical “wooden” persons that would have his position and responsibly. The man is totally down to earth and displays a lack of ego than many “less accomplished” individuals...

One of those people who had the position was Alan Stern. You considered him "wooden"?


Offline Rocket Science

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I think John is a refreshing change from the typical “wooden” persons that would have his position and responsibly. The man is totally down to earth and displays a lack of ego than many “less accomplished” individuals...

One of those people who had the position was Alan Stern. You considered him "wooden"?



No, I just feel that John is very affable...
"The laws of physics are unforgiving"
~Rob, Physics instructor, aviator, vintage auto racer

Offline JohnFornaro

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The new rover may have some caching capabilities...

Put a big core drill on it.  Caching is relatively "easy".  All that's needed, conceptually, is to wrap the samples, label them, and set them down on the ground in an orderly fashion, back where the lab is expected to be landed.

The wrapper is a thin stainless steel foil, wrapped paper tube fashion around the sample; sealed at each end, and laser labled with location, orientation, and depth info at the "upper" end.  The rover brings back several dozen sample tubes back to the caching area.

This presupposes back and forth trips, and rover speed will become an issue.  I envisioned a separate caching rover, specialized for sample carry and deposition, with a low CG and much faster speed.  Perhaps it could have a rudimentary dozer blade to smooth the main road somewhat.  Perhaps it could track an informative subset of atmospheric readings, giving a detailed "weather" readout of the "river valley" over the two or more martian year course of the mission.

The samples can sit on the ground at the caching area until the lab arrives, preferably within the same launch window.

One or two launch windows later, much will be known about the samples, and which would be best for return.
Sometimes I just flat out don't get it.

Offline FOXP2

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Question 1: Will there be enough plutonium 238 for this mission? Or will they have to fly a ASRG instead of a MMRTG?

Question 2: What orbiters will still be operation for this mission. Odyssey certainly won't last, MRO probably won't last. MARVEN orbit is so high it may have limited com relaying ability, all that will be left (hopefully) is just one ESA orbiter. should there be another push to get a dedicated telecoms orbiter?     

Online Blackstar

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1-Question 1: Will there be enough plutonium 238 for this mission? Or will they have to fly a ASRG instead of a MMRTG?

2-Question 2: What orbiters will still be operation for this mission. Odyssey certainly won't last, MRO probably won't last. MARVEN orbit is so high it may have limited com relaying ability, all that will be left (hopefully) is just one ESA orbiter. should there be another push to get a dedicated telecoms orbiter?     

1-They cannot do the mission unless there is enough Pu-238. So of course there will be enough. And they will use the MMRTG, not the ASRG.

2-Relay is not a problem. Relay is not a problem. Relay is not a problem. Repeat.

Figure that MAVEN can probably operate as a relay for ten years after reaching Mars in 2014, and TGO can operate for up to ten years after reaching Mars in 2017. They will have more than enough coverage when this rover lands in 2021.

Offline Jim

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MARVEN orbit is so high it may have limited com relaying ability,

Actually it is a better orbit, it will be in view longer, allowing for more data to be transmitted.

Offline Tea Party Space Czar

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Blackstar and Jim have pretty much cleaned up this argument - thank you.

Respectfully,
Andrew Gasser
TEA Party in Space
President, TEA Party in Space

What we want and what we can afford are two very different things.

Demanding space policy that is fiscally responsible and utilizing the free market system.

Offline Norm38

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We will need some orbiter type missions to replace aging missions.  Mars Odyssey is gonna need to be replaced at some point.  Even if it is just a relay comm mission.

Legit question:  How hard is it to modify the cruise stage of the EDL sequence to be able to also (aero)brake into orbit after detaching the decent stage, to then remain in orbit as a comsat?

Also:  What's the delta v to get to Mars GSO above the rover landing site, so as to remain always in view?

I'm thinking that a manned mission base requirement could well be a GSO relay, so that maintaining comms is basically no more than a home cable dish.  Any need to demonstrate the technology?  It'd be fun...

And, if the rover is caching a return sample, the GSO relay is above that site as well.  The rover isn't going to rove that far.
« Last Edit: 12/06/2012 12:02 AM by Norm38 »

Offline FOXP2

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MARVEN orbit is so high it may have limited com relaying ability,

Actually it is a better orbit, it will be in view longer, allowing for more data to be transmitted.

But what about its much greater altitude from the rover? What the maximum range of Electra and data rate at max range?

So if there is not enough PU238 for a MMRTG, but enough for a ASRG then they won't do the mission anyways?

Legit question:  How hard is it to modify the cruise stage of the EDL sequence to be able to also (aero)brake into orbit after detaching the decent stage, to then remain in orbit as a comsat?

I think that it a good idea, but it would add a lot of mass. The cruise stage would need a heat shield of its own for aerocapture (never done before), fuel for multiple year orbital mission, electra and a huge high gain antannaa, etc.

As for demonstration technologies I would like to see laser comms to and from mars. NASA going to test laser comm between earth and the moon in 2013 with the LADEE mission, if that works as laser comm package on the next NASA mars orbiter would be likely. It would increase data rates by 10 times and weigh only a few kilograms.   
« Last Edit: 12/06/2012 12:42 AM by FOXP2 »

Online Blackstar

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I get the impression that some of you guys read one post and then ask the same questions that have been answered multiple times before in earlier posts.

Offline LegendCJS

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We will need some orbiter type missions to replace aging missions.  Mars Odyssey is gonna need to be replaced at some point.  Even if it is just a relay comm mission.
Legit question:  How hard is it to modify the cruise stage of the EDL sequence to be able to also (aero)brake into orbit after detaching the decent stage, to then remain in orbit as a comsat?
All you have to do is get rid of the parts of the mission that involve landing on Mars. 

All batteries, computers, most fuel tanks, and all communications gear are not in the cruise stage.  AND if you want the comsat ability to aid you in the ELD sequence the timing is all wrong as well.

Remember: if we want this whole space thing to work out we have to optimize for cost!

Offline FOXP2

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I get the impression that some of you guys read one post and then ask the same questions that have been answered multiple times before in earlier posts.

Well some of us don't have the time to be on this forum often or long enough to read all the posts, perhaps if you would be so kind as to quote/link the answers to those questions, can't seem to find anything via search.
 

Online cleonard

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Trying to turn the cruise stage into an orbiter is just not going to work.  The only way is to send a separate mission or at least a second payload on a more powerful launcher.

The Electra is a capable system.  There was a Mars Telecommunication Orbiter(MTO) mission that was canceled back in 2006 or so.  It would have used the Electra UHF radio and was planned to be in a 5000km orbit.  It countered the extra path loss with a steerable high gain UHF antenna.  One of the reasons for MTO was to support MSL. 

More data is always better, but MRO can support at least 200Mbits/day.

Offline Archibald

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Re: NASA Announces New Rover to Close Out Decade of New Missions
« Reply #100 on: 12/06/2012 07:04 AM »
So the plan is to send a rover taking samples, storing them carefully and then - wait for another mission (robotic or human, who knows) to bring the samples back.
This mean that after some years spent on the surface the rover will meet with a lander (still to be budgeted), and pass it the big bag of samples it will have collected.

Offline Sparky

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Re: NASA Announces New Rover to Close Out Decade of New Missions
« Reply #101 on: 12/06/2012 07:28 AM »
So the plan is to send a rover taking samples, storing them carefully and then - wait for another mission (robotic or human, who knows) to bring the samples back.
This mean that after some years spent on the surface the rover will meet with a lander (still to be budgeted), and pass it the big bag of samples it will have collected.


Well, it will be met by a smaller "fetch" rover, the job of which is to retrieve the sample container. It would be rather fruitless if the caching rover were to fail before the return mission arrives. But yes.

Online Blackstar

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Re: NASA Announces New Rover to Close Out Decade of New Missions
« Reply #102 on: 12/06/2012 11:56 AM »
I get the impression that some of you guys read one post and then ask the same questions that have been answered multiple times before in earlier posts.

Well some of us don't have the time to be on this forum often or long enough to read all the posts, perhaps if you would be so kind as to quote/link the answers to those questions, can't seem to find anything via search.
 

Just read earlier in the thread so that you don't ask a question that has been answered three times before and look like a newbie.

Online Blackstar

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Re: NASA Announces New Rover to Close Out Decade of New Missions
« Reply #103 on: 12/06/2012 12:01 PM »
So the plan is to send a rover taking samples, storing them carefully and then - wait for another mission (robotic or human, who knows) to bring the samples back.
This mean that after some years spent on the surface the rover will meet with a lander (still to be budgeted), and pass it the big bag of samples it will have collected.


Well, it will be met by a smaller "fetch" rover, the job of which is to retrieve the sample container. It would be rather fruitless if the caching rover were to fail before the return mission arrives. But yes.

Yes. If you want to get a sense of the overall architecture, go to this site:

http://www7.nationalacademies.org/ssb/SSB_059331.htm

Download the mission studies for MAX-C, Mars Lander and Mars Orbiter. Those are the three components. Of the three, the lander, which includes the ascent vehicle, is the most difficult. We know how to do rovers and orbiters and return vehicles (and even automated rendezvous). The ascent vehicle is tough because it has to survive the Mars thermal cycling (cold and colder). It would have a small "retrieval rover" for getting the sample canister onboard.

Offline Archibald

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Re: NASA Announces New Rover to Close Out Decade of New Missions
« Reply #104 on: 12/06/2012 12:28 PM »
So we are talking about a rover meeting another rover to retrieve the canister and place it aboard the return ship.
Then what happens to the fetch rover ? abandoned on Mars ?
Can't help thinking about Wall-E and its fellow robots - Eva, Mo... ;D 
That will be one hell of a mission. I want to see that in my lifetime.

If only humans were not so "costly" to land on Mars, a suited astronaut might be as efficient as the rovers to collect the canister and bring it aboard...
« Last Edit: 12/06/2012 12:30 PM by Archibald »

Offline JohnFornaro

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Re: NASA Announces New Rover to Close Out Decade of New Missions
« Reply #105 on: 12/06/2012 12:58 PM »
I get the impression that some of you guys read one post and then ask the same questions that have been answered multiple times before in earlier posts.

Well some of us don't have the time to be on this forum often or long enough to read all the posts, perhaps if you would be so kind as to quote/link the answers to those questions, can't seem to find anything via search.

Search function here doesn't work all that well.  On short threads, you can pick "All", then use the Inet Explorer search function for an applicable term or short phrase.  Say, "Delta-v"; "delta vee"; vary the spelling sometimes.  On long threads, you can use the "print" function, which will display the text of the entire thread; again the Inet Explorer search function works well for finding some things, particularly posters.  The print function doesn't fully implement the nested quote function, but it sorta works.

So there's that.

Nothing can be done about someone not having enough time to read.  You have to make that time yourself.  Plus, it's very time consuming for somebody else to apply "research" methods, and supply quotes across threads to bring "you" up to date.  The common phrase is "do your own homework".
Sometimes I just flat out don't get it.

Offline Jim

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Re: NASA Announces New Rover to Close Out Decade of New Missions
« Reply #106 on: 12/06/2012 01:05 PM »

1.  Legit question:  How hard is it to modify the cruise stage of the EDL sequence to be able to also (aero)brake into orbit after detaching the decent stage, to then remain in orbit as a comsat?

2.  Also:  What's the delta v to get to Mars GSO above the rover landing site, so as to remain always in view?

3.  I'm thinking that a manned mission base requirement could well be a GSO relay, so that maintaining comms is basically no more than a home cable dish.  Any need to demonstrate the technology?  It'd be fun...


1.  Very hard. 
A.  It is going too low to aero brake and it would still take a lot of prop.
b.  The cruise stage has no guidance or computer, its thrusters are set up for a spinning vehicle with the entry vehicle still attached, its solar arrays are sized to just power some pumps and star tracker, and where would the comm gear and antenna go?

2.  Way too much to add on to the above

3.  The issue is justifying the dedicated mission

Offline Jim

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Re: NASA Announces New Rover to Close Out Decade of New Missions
« Reply #107 on: 12/06/2012 01:06 PM »

I think that it a good idea,

It is a bad idea

Offline Jim

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Re: NASA Announces New Rover to Close Out Decade of New Missions
« Reply #108 on: 12/06/2012 01:07 PM »
I get the impression that some of you guys read one post and then ask the same questions that have been answered multiple times before in earlier posts.

Well some of us don't have the time to be on this forum often or long enough to read all the posts, perhaps if you would be so kind as to quote/link the answers to those questions, can't seem to find anything via search.
 

Not our job.

Offline Norm38

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Re: NASA Announces New Rover to Close Out Decade of New Missions
« Reply #109 on: 12/06/2012 01:46 PM »
Thanks Jim, figured it was a long shot.

Online Blackstar

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Re: NASA Announces New Rover to Close Out Decade of New Missions
« Reply #110 on: 12/06/2012 02:06 PM »
Another possibility is the "fetch rover" going to retrieve a canister with samples, rather than going up to the sample collecting rover.

The canister itself is an interesting device. Although it has no moving parts, it is fairly complex. It has to be designed to seal the samples securely under various thermal environments, even in the event of Earth impact.

Offline FOXP2

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Re: NASA Announces New Rover to Close Out Decade of New Missions
« Reply #111 on: 12/06/2012 05:26 PM »

I think that it a good idea,

It is a bad idea

How not to be a dick, jim, lesson #1: "Say "that a good idea, but..." and then state show stopping detriments without stating them as such.  Instead of saying "that a bad idea."

Observe: "I think that it a good idea, but it would add a lot of mass."

Now if you really think flying a lander and orbiter together is a "bad idea" take that up with the designers of Viking, Mars Express, ExoMars, etc.     

Quote
Not our job.

I doubt its your job to be on this forum either. In short if your going to waste time chating on an internet forum, I see no reason to not be constructive and helpful... well unless being the opposite is fundamental to your personality. 

I get the impression that some of you guys read one post and then ask the same questions that have been answered multiple times before in earlier posts.

Well some of us don't have the time to be on this forum often or long enough to read all the posts, perhaps if you would be so kind as to quote/link the answers to those questions, can't seem to find anything via search.
 

Just read earlier in the thread so that you don't ask a question that has been answered three times before and look like a newbie.

I did, I can't find answers to
-What is the max max range of Electra?
-What is Electa bit rate at that max range?
-Could ASRG be used on this upcoming rover?

As for complaints that I should look it up on my own, yes I should, and did, but didn't find it on this forum:

Electra can detect a carrier signal at 110,000 km and can communicate at 1 "ksps" at 35,000 km [1]. That would mean at least 1 kbps (I assume 2 kbps at 2 bits per sample) at that distance. Simulations show 64 kbps at 6000 km is possible with standard Electra design [2]. Back-of-napkin calculate MSL averages between 208-521 kbps with existing orbiter passes that have slant ranges between 250 km to ~1000 km and fly over times averaging 8 minutes.[3]

So MAVEN should be able to communicate with a rover even at apogee at ~64 kbps to perhaps as high as 2 Mbps at pregee, right over the rover. MAVEN orbital period will be 4.5 hours long, so yes it could hang over a rover for more then 2 hours, that would be enough time to download nearly half a Gb at 64kbps, or roughly 2-5 times existing orbiter overflight performance. Unfortunately such perfect overflights would only happen rarely as MAVEN will precess in latitude as well as flyover fewer times a sol, but its average overflight time should be considerably longer then other orbiters. The question thus becomes will its reduced average bit rate be made up for by longer average and seasonally varying overflight time? There certainly would be times during a martian year where due to latitude a rover rarely if every has view of MAVEN at apogee, only of it at pregee, overflights of which would be shorter then existing orbiters and happen less then half as often due to its longer period.   
       
As for arguments that a rover could go it alone with direct to earth that would be 32 kbps at earth mars conjunction to just 0.5 kbps (500 bits) near opposition, provisional average of 3.5 kbps![3] So the orbiters are critical to lander performance: they increase data return rates from the surface by ~100 times. Right now there are 2 NASA orbiters one working full time as a relaying, and one ESA orbiter which is used rarely if ever. By 2020 there will likely only be one NASA orbiter which will be on its 7th year and a ESA mission on its 2-4th year. 

[1]http://books.google.com/books?id=4Q9BuPCKeDkC&pg=PA160&lpg=PA160&dq=electra+transceiver+110,000&source=bl&ots=EFfslyQ2Y_&sig=UKEhwt3-k0NE4YK7bo2bsalvbyQ&hl=en&sa=X&ei=1ErAULW4EcnzqAGF74Aw&ved=0CDAQ6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q=electra%20transceiver%20110%2C000&f=false
[2] http://trs-new.jpl.nasa.gov/dspace/bitstream/2014/7832/1/03-2150.pdf
[3] http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/mission/communicationwithearth/data/

Offline Jim

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Re: NASA Announces New Rover to Close Out Decade of New Missions
« Reply #112 on: 12/06/2012 05:31 PM »

I think that it a good idea,

It is a bad idea

How not to be a dick, jim, lesson #1: "Say "that a good idea, but..." and then state show stopping detriments without stating them as such.  Instead of saying "that a bad idea."

Observe: "I think that it a good idea, but it would add a lot of mass."

Now if you really think flying a lander and orbiter together is a "bad idea" take that up with the designers of Viking, Mars Express, ExoMars, etc.     

Quote
Not our job.

I doubt its your job to be on this forum either. In short if your going to waste time chating on an internet forum, I see no reason to not be constructive and helpful... well unless being the opposite is fundamental to your personality. 


How not to be a dick is not to ask to be spoon fed data.  I am not going to waste time helping someone who is lazy and makes unsubstantiated comments.

Offline Jim

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Re: NASA Announces New Rover to Close Out Decade of New Missions
« Reply #113 on: 12/06/2012 05:35 PM »

Now if you really think flying a lander and orbiter together is a "bad idea" take that up with the designers of Viking, Mars Express, ExoMars, etc.     


Mars express is not a relevant example since Beagle was a secondary.

No US lander since Viking, Pathfinder, MPL, MER, Phoenix, MSL haven't flown with orbiters and that goes with future ones too.
« Last Edit: 12/06/2012 05:36 PM by Jim »

Offline Khadgars

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Re: NASA Announces New Rover to Close Out Decade of New Missions
« Reply #114 on: 12/06/2012 05:43 PM »
Quote
I think that it a good idea,


It is a bad idea


How not to be a dick, jim, lesson #1: "Say "that a good idea, but..." and then state show stopping detriments without stating them as such.  Instead of saying "that a bad idea."

Jim is one of the more knowledgeable people on this forum, he grows on you after a while  :P

Offline Kaputnik

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Re: NASA Announces New Rover to Close Out Decade of New Missions
« Reply #115 on: 12/06/2012 08:45 PM »
Just to add a, hopefully, constructive twist to the cruise bus -> GSO orbiter idea (actually, the term wouldn't be geostationary at all, since that term is reserved for Earth).

The cruise bus will, by default, intersect the atmosphere deeply enough to de-orbit (if it didn't, then neither would the entry vehicle). So the proposal would need a burn to get it clear of the atmosphere- I'm not sure how feasible that is, and I would guess that it requires an earlier release of the entry vehicle, which has obvious implications.
Having cleared the atmosphere, the bus/orbiter could brake into a very highly elliptical orbit. Another burn would be required at the high point of the orbit to circularise. That will be a very, very big burn indeed.

Due to the delta-v involved, I don't think we'll see a stationary satellite around Mars, at least not until we have electric propulsion on the go and it can spiral into position.
Waiting for joy and raptor

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: NASA Announces New Rover to Close Out Decade of New Missions
« Reply #116 on: 12/06/2012 08:47 PM »
Is someone going to talk about repurposing the ejected off-set weights, too?  ::)
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Online Blackstar

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Re: NASA Announces New Rover to Close Out Decade of New Missions
« Reply #117 on: 12/06/2012 08:52 PM »
I did, I can't find answers to
-What is the max max range of Electra?
-What is Electa bit rate at that max range?
-Could ASRG be used on this upcoming rover?

ASRG will NOT be used on this rover. Mentioned earlier in the thread. I could explain a million reasons why, but the simplest one is that NASA will not put ASRG on a $1.5 billion mission until it is flight tested first on a cheaper mission. Another reason is that you don't want to "clone" Curiosity and then put an entirely different power system on it. That would add risk to the design.

Relay is not an issue. I don't know why you guys seem to be obsessed with it, but once MAVEN's primary mission is over it's going to be used for relay until it falls out of the sky. And ESA's going to have an orbiter too. There will be plenty of comm. I work with Mars scientists and they're not worried about the relay issue. Not an issue. There are better windmills to tilt at.
« Last Edit: 12/06/2012 08:53 PM by Blackstar »

Offline Norm38

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Re: NASA Announces New Rover to Close Out Decade of New Missions
« Reply #118 on: 12/06/2012 08:59 PM »
I thought the cruise stage had it's own RCS, radio, etc.  Forgot they were all on decent.  Was really just curious about how much extra mass it would be.  A lot.

I wish I knew orbital mechanics.  Speaking just of delta v, shouldn't it be possible for a craft designed to do so, to (aero)brake just enough to be captured by Mars in a high eliptical orbit that can then transition to MSO, for some delta-v savings?

Or do you really have to capture into a low orbit and then boost back out?
« Last Edit: 12/06/2012 09:00 PM by Norm38 »

Offline Kaputnik

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Re: NASA Announces New Rover to Close Out Decade of New Missions
« Reply #119 on: 12/06/2012 09:06 PM »
I thought the cruise stage had it's own RCS, radio, etc.  Forgot they were all on decent.  Was really just curious about how much extra mass it would be.  A lot.

I wish I knew orbital mechanics.  Speaking just of delta v, shouldn't it be possible for a craft designed to do so, to (aero)brake just enough to be captured by Mars in a high eliptical orbit that can then transition to MSO, for some delta-v savings?

Or do you really have to capture into a low orbit and then boost back out?

There are essentially two ways of achieving 'Areostationary' orbit.
One is to approach the planet on a wide flyby trajectory, aiming for a 17,000km altitude. Upon closest approach, perform a burn to enter ASO directly.
The second way is to make a more conventional approach in the region of 120km. Again, make the braking burn at closest approach. This is actually a much more efficient way of entering orbit due to the 'Oberth effect'. However it places you in an orbit with a low point of 120km. The high point depends on how long you burned your engines for. So, assuming you achieved a 120x17,000km orbit, you will need a second burn (condcuted at the high point) to circularise. That will take a lot of propellant.

I admit I don't know enough about orbital mechanics to which of these methods is more efficient. However, only the second one has any applicability to a bus/orbiter approach.
Waiting for joy and raptor

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Re: NASA Announces New Rover to Close Out Decade of New Missions
« Reply #120 on: 12/06/2012 10:08 PM »
I thought the cruise stage had it's own RCS,

It does, but is just for cruise and a spinning spacecraft.

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Re: NASA Announces New Rover to Close Out Decade of New Missions
« Reply #121 on: 12/06/2012 11:18 PM »
[quote author=Jim link=topic=30528.msg988527#msg988527
How not to be a dick is not to ask to be spoon fed data.  I am not going to waste time helping someone who is lazy and makes unsubstantiated comments.
[/quote]

Lazy, funny, is this place "work" to you? No no maybe your right and I guessed wrong and this forum is in fact your job, for which a work ethic is to be applied, and can be critical to those of us whose job is not this forum, and don't have the time to dedicate to it as you do.

I did, I can't find answers to
-What is the max max range of Electra?
-What is Electa bit rate at that max range?
-Could ASRG be used on this upcoming rover?

ASRG will NOT be used on this rover. Mentioned earlier in the thread. I could explain a million reasons why, but the simplest one is that NASA will not put ASRG on a $1.5 billion mission until it is flight tested first on a cheaper mission. Another reason is that you don't want to "clone" Curiosity and then put an entirely different power system on it. That would add risk to the design.

So what if their is not enough plutonium? Yes, yes your fingers cross they begin production in 2 years of 2.5 kg a year, but has there yet to be actually funding allocated for that? 

Yes the ASRG weighs less then half as much as a MMRTG and gives off ~20 watts more electric power, but those don't exactly sound like detriments. I guess a entirely new heat exchanger would be needed to try to suck enough heat out of an ASRG. But just answer me this, if there was "hypothetically" not enough plutonium for an MMRTG, would you side with an ASRG then?   

Quote

Relay is not an issue. I don't know why you guys seem to be obsessed with it, but once MAVEN's primary mission is over it's going to be used for relay until it falls out of the sky. And ESA's going to have an orbiter too. There will be plenty of comm. I work with Mars scientists and they're not worried about the relay issue. Not an issue. There are better windmills to tilt at.


Good, could you ask them "if there were no orbiters would it be an issue then? By the way it was Mars scientists that proposed the cancelled MTO so clearly some of them thought it an issue. Thankfully with Electra any orbiter mission can do the job, but NASA won't be launching another after MAVEN for the rest of this decade, and that will likely be the only NASA orbiter in operation by 2020, assuming no catastrophes.


Now if you really think flying a lander and orbiter together is a "bad idea" take that up with the designers of Viking, Mars Express, ExoMars, etc.     


Mars express is not a relevant example since Beagle was a secondary.

No US lander since Viking, Pathfinder, MPL, MER, Phoenix, MSL haven't flown with orbiters and that goes with future ones too.

So if we call the lander a "secondary" its alright to pack them together?

Pathfinder, MPL, MER and all weighed a 1/3 as much as Viking (~1 ton total mass per mission verse 3.5 tons for viking) and were launched on much smaller cheaper Delta II verse Viking on Titan IVs. In fact only MSL reached and exceeds viking by 300 kg and was launched on the the Titan IV successor, the gloriously expensive Atlas V. MSL weighs 0.9 tons plus 2.5 tons for the EDL system, Viking lander only weighed 0.6 tons plus 0.5 tons for heat shield. A 3.5 ton MSL-EDL plus even a 1 ton MAVEN type orbiter as well as the fuel for orbital insertion would likely require a rocket bigger then the Atlas V and much much more money.     

Offline RocketEconomist327

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Re: NASA Announces New Rover to Close Out Decade of New Missions
« Reply #122 on: 12/07/2012 12:02 AM »
Quote from: Jim link=topic=30528.msg988527#msg988527

How not to be a dick is not to ask to be spoon fed data.  I am not going to waste time helping someone who is lazy and makes unsubstantiated comments.
<snipped a bunch of crap>

Some people here need to recognize who the hell they are talking to before they start popping off at the mouth and lobbing grenades.  Grenade lobbing is good when you know who you are targeting and know what your doing... you know neither.

We are on the ball for restarting Pu238 production.  We need to finish ITAR first. 

Thank you for the explanation on relay - we will be fine.  Can we let that dead horse lay there... dead... pretty please?

VR
RE327

edited for clarity
« Last Edit: 12/07/2012 12:21 AM by RocketScientist327 »
You can talk about all the great things you can do, or want to do, in space; but unless the rocket scientists get a sound understanding of economics (and quickly), the US space program will never achieve the greatness it should.

Putting my money where my mouth is.

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Re: NASA Announces New Rover to Close Out Decade of New Missions
« Reply #123 on: 12/07/2012 12:05 AM »
FOXP2, when people mix the posts that they are replying to, cutting and pasting all over the place, I don't really read them. They just make posts far more complex than they need to be.

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Re: NASA Announces New Rover to Close Out Decade of New Missions
« Reply #124 on: 12/07/2012 03:15 AM »
Quote from: Jim link=topic=30528.msg988527#msg988527

How not to be a dick is not to ask to be spoon fed data.  I am not going to waste time helping someone who is lazy and makes unsubstantiated comments.
<snipped a bunch of crap>

Some people here need to recognize who the hell they are talking to before they start popping off at the mouth and lobbing grenades.  Grenade lobbing is good when you know who you are targeting and know what your doing... you know neither.

So I should appeal to authority? I shouldn't ask questions or ask for evidence and just take you on your word?

Quote
We are on the ball for restarting Pu238 production.  We need to finish ITAR first.


Oh so you have the money then?

Quote
Thank you for the explanation on relay - we will be fine.  Can we let that dead horse lay there... dead... pretty please?

We will probably be fine you mean, or does being the authority grant you clairvoyance too? 

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Re: NASA Announces New Rover to Close Out Decade of New Missions
« Reply #125 on: 12/07/2012 03:48 AM »

1.  Pathfinder, MPL, MER and all weighed a 1/3 as much as Viking (~1 ton total mass per mission verse 3.5 tons for viking) and were launched on much smaller cheaper Delta II verse Viking on Titan IVs.

2.  In fact only MSL reached and exceeds viking by 300 kg and was launched on the the Titan IV successor, the gloriously expensive Atlas V. MSL weighs 0.9 tons plus 2.5 tons for the EDL system, Viking lander only weighed 0.6 tons plus 0.5 tons for heat shield..     

Correcting a bunch of crap

1.  Wrong comparison.  Look at landed weight.  MER (rover and lander) was almost the same as Viking, 0.59 tons.

2.    Wrong. You are comparing apples and oranges.   To do a proper comparison, since Viking has its instruments and lander combined, MSL weight includes the rover and descent stage (the lander).  So, triple the  the MSL weight  and that is your comparison.  Or just compare only the Viking instrument weight to the MSL rover.  Who in their right mind would think MSL was a just marginal increase over Viking? 

Also, Titan IV was much more expensive than Atlas V.

So know what you are talking about.  The landers after Viking were much more efficient in landed weight.   

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Re: NASA Announces New Rover to Close Out Decade of New Missions
« Reply #126 on: 12/07/2012 03:52 AM »

Oh so you have the money then?


Money isn't the issue.  It is politics. 

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Re: NASA Announces New Rover to Close Out Decade of New Missions
« Reply #127 on: 12/07/2012 05:29 AM »

Oh so you have the money then?


Money isn't the issue.  It is politics. 

Bingo
You can talk about all the great things you can do, or want to do, in space; but unless the rocket scientists get a sound understanding of economics (and quickly), the US space program will never achieve the greatness it should.

Putting my money where my mouth is.

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Re: NASA Announces New Rover to Close Out Decade of New Missions
« Reply #128 on: 12/07/2012 07:37 AM »
Is someone going to talk about repurposing the ejected off-set weights, too?  ::)

Actually, it is by far the easiest mass to repurpose.  You see there were other methods studied to offset the flight angle for control.  The weights were the lowest risk.  I like the trim tab option the best.  High loads for sure, but I will guess the tab might have weighed 30kg.  That would have freed up 120kg for more useful payload.  That is a massive number.

What would you have done with that mass?
« Last Edit: 12/07/2012 07:39 AM by cleonard »

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Re: NASA Announces New Rover to Close Out Decade of New Missions
« Reply #129 on: 12/07/2012 07:39 AM »
Is someone going to talk about repurposing the ejected off-set weights, too?  ::)

Actually, it is by far the easiest mass to repurpose.  You see there were other methods to offset the flight angle for control.  The weights were the lowest risk.  I like the trim tab option the best.  High loads for sure, but I will guess the tab might have weighed 30kg.  That would have freed up 120kg for more useful payload.  That is a massive number.

What would you have done with that mass?

That's not exactly what I meant. I meant people were trying to repurpose everything discarded on the way down, from the descent stage to the cruise stage. It is silly.
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Re: NASA Announces New Rover to Close Out Decade of New Missions
« Reply #130 on: 12/07/2012 10:00 AM »

...Viking lander only weighed 0.6 tons plus 0.5 tons for heat shield..     

How much did the Viking cruise stage, eer orbiter weigh again? That is why it flew on a Titan! If you had separated the two, it could have flown on smaller rockets, maybe.
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Re: NASA Announces New Rover to Close Out Decade of New Missions
« Reply #131 on: 12/07/2012 05:14 PM »

...Viking lander only weighed 0.6 tons plus 0.5 tons for heat shield..     

How much did the Viking cruise stage, eer orbiter weigh again? That is why it flew on a Titan! If you had separated the two, it could have flown on smaller rockets, maybe.

Out of interest would the Falcon 9 be capable of launching this rover along with its EDL and cruise stage?

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Re: NASA Announces New Rover to Close Out Decade of New Missions
« Reply #132 on: 12/07/2012 05:18 PM »

...Viking lander only weighed 0.6 tons plus 0.5 tons for heat shield..     

How much did the Viking cruise stage, eer orbiter weigh again? That is why it flew on a Titan! If you had separated the two, it could have flown on smaller rockets, maybe.

Out of interest would the Falcon 9 be capable of launching this rover along with its EDL and cruise stage?

Considering MSL launched on an Atlas 541, don't you mean Falcon Heavy?

Edit: If you ment the Viking lander, you have to remember the entire stack weighed 3527 kg, of which 1445 kg was fuel to break into orbit. At Viking's point in history, we did not know enough about mars to safely do a direct entry, so they broke into orbit and then looked for and selected a landing site. Since then we have had several (Path Finder, MER, Phoenix) successful direct entry landers launched on Delta II's, the same rough class as a Falcon 9.
« Last Edit: 12/07/2012 05:30 PM by kevin-rf »
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Re: NASA Announces New Rover to Close Out Decade of New Missions
« Reply #133 on: 12/07/2012 05:28 PM »

...Viking lander only weighed 0.6 tons plus 0.5 tons for heat shield..     

How much did the Viking cruise stage, eer orbiter weigh again? That is why it flew on a Titan! If you had separated the two, it could have flown on smaller rockets, maybe.

Out of interest would the Falcon 9 be capable of launching this rover along with its EDL and cruise stage?

Considering MSL launched on an Atlas 541, don't you mean Falcon Heavy?

That's a good point and by then the FH should have clocked up enough flights to prove its reliability for such a mission.

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Re: NASA Announces New Rover to Close Out Decade of New Missions
« Reply #134 on: 12/07/2012 05:33 PM »
That's a good point and by then the FH should have clocked up enough flights to prove its reliability for such a mission.
For the just announced next rover, Falcon (9 or Heavy) needs to be Nuclear certified.
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Re: NASA Announces New Rover to Close Out Decade of New Missions
« Reply #135 on: 12/07/2012 05:35 PM »
That's a good point and by then the FH should have clocked up enough flights to prove its reliability for such a mission.
For the just announced next rover, Falcon (9 or Heavy) needs to be Nuclear certified.

I would guess that's an involved process?

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Re: NASA Announces New Rover to Close Out Decade of New Missions
« Reply #136 on: 12/07/2012 05:43 PM »
Jim and Blackstar would be the ones to answer that. Since the Atlas V is the only nuclear currently certified launcher, it is more likely that the next rover will be going on an Atlas V.

I am curious since the 2018 and 2020 windows are more favorable than MSL's, will they be dropping a solid or two off of the Atlas? (531? 521?).
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Re: NASA Announces New Rover to Close Out Decade of New Missions
« Reply #137 on: 12/07/2012 05:46 PM »
Jim and Blackstar would be the ones to answer that. Since the Atlas V is the only nuclear currently certified launcher, it is more likely that the next rover will be going on an Atlas V.

I am curious since the 2018 and 2020 windows are more favorable than MSL's, will they be dropping a solid or two off of the Atlas? (531? 521?).

But would keeping them and launching it in the 541 configuration allow the rover to reach a greater area of Mars?

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Re: NASA Announces New Rover to Close Out Decade of New Missions
« Reply #138 on: 12/07/2012 05:53 PM »
But would keeping them and launching it in the 541 configuration allow the rover to reach a greater area of Mars?

No, if you can reach Mars, you can reach all of Mars. Launching on a 541 in a more favorable windows gives you either more mass to Mars (if the Sky Crane can land the extra mass) or more margin in the event of LV under performance.
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Re: NASA Announces New Rover to Close Out Decade of New Missions
« Reply #139 on: 12/07/2012 06:05 PM »
But would keeping them and launching it in the 541 configuration allow the rover to reach a greater area of Mars?

No, if you can reach Mars, you can reach all of Mars. Launching on a 541 in a more favorable windows gives you either more mass to Mars (if the Sky Crane can land the extra mass) or more margin in the event of LV under performance.

Thanks for that. Those reasons you have given for using the 541 actually sound like they could be pretty good reasons for using it in these launch windows.

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Re: NASA Announces New Rover to Close Out Decade of New Missions
« Reply #140 on: 12/07/2012 07:28 PM »

...Viking lander only weighed 0.6 tons plus 0.5 tons for heat shield..     

How much did the Viking cruise stage, eer orbiter weigh again? That is why it flew on a Titan! If you had separated the two, it could have flown on smaller rockets, maybe.

Out of interest would the Falcon 9 be capable of launching this rover along with its EDL and cruise stage?

A bit more directly the answer is no.  The mass sent to Mars for MSL was a bit under 4000kg.  The Falcon 9 can't even launch that out of earth orbit let alone the extra energy to get to Mars.  It's just not powerful enough.  The max for a typical Mars trajectory is more like 2000kg.

At one time the Falcon Heavy was advertised to be able to send 10,000kg on a Mars trajectory.  I have a feeling that is a bit optimistic, but time will tell.  If you could actually send that much mass it could launch two MSL's and still have enough mass capability left over for a telecom orbiter.

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Re: NASA Announces New Rover to Close Out Decade of New Missions
« Reply #141 on: 12/07/2012 08:28 PM »
That's a good point and by then the FH should have clocked up enough flights to prove its reliability for such a mission.
For the just announced next rover, Falcon (9 or Heavy) needs to be Nuclear certified.

I would guess that's an involved process?

It is. It's also rather expensive. And I think that it also has to be essentially amended for each vehicle/spacecraft configuration. For instance, if New Horizons flies on the Atlas with its RTG on the left side and MSL flies on the Atlas with its RTG on the right side, they have to do assessments for each, because in one case a launch failure might result in the RTG falling in the ocean and another it might result in the RTG falling on Titusville (not that anybody would care, because it's Titusville).

I'm on somewhat dangerous (i.e. ignorant) ground here, and Jim probably knows better because he actually deals with integration issues. But a few years ago while working on the RPS study I did hear someone discuss for a few minutes what is involved in nuclear certifying a launch vehicle as well as a specific launch. Essentially it is a very careful analysis of all the failure modes on the vehicle and how they would impact the RTG all the way into orbit. It's engineering analysis and certification, and that's expensive. So once you do it for a vehicle, you have sunk a lot of cost into that, and you don't want to have to do that again for a completely new vehicle unless you cannot help it.

Now I vaguely remember that the process for certification for a launch is called NEPA, although the only letter I can figure out is N for "Nuclear." I believe (again, vague memory) that the process for getting NEPA certification for a launch takes something like two years and it costs something like $10 million. That is not small change when you have a cost-capped mission.

If Falcon is a successful vehicle and if it is significantly cheaper than Atlas and becomes available for planetary missions, I am sure that they will probably certify it for nuclear payloads. The planetary science community is being eaten alive by launch vehicle costs, and they long for the return of the Delta II or something in that cost range. So they (NASA and the scientists) would definitely want to switch, even if that required sinking money into nuclear certifying a new vehicle.

Offline Dalhousie

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Re: NASA Announces New Rover to Close Out Decade of New Missions
« Reply #142 on: 12/07/2012 08:47 PM »
Quote
The planetary science community is being eaten alive by launch vehicle costs, and they long for the return of the Delta II or something in that cost range. So they (NASA and the scientists) would definitely want to switch, even if that required sinking money into nuclear certifying a new vehicle.

Is this true though?  Launch costs are 5-10% of a planetary mission and well understood.  It is the spacecraft that are expensive and most likely to suffer unreasonable cost growth.
« Last Edit: 12/07/2012 09:04 PM by Dalhousie »
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Re: NASA Announces New Rover to Close Out Decade of New Missions
« Reply #143 on: 12/08/2012 01:46 PM »
Is this true though?  Launch costs are 5-10% of a planetary mission and well understood.  It is the spacecraft that are expensive and most likely to suffer unreasonable cost growth.

It is absolutely true. Consider that a Discovery class mission is approximately $500 million (recent ones have been in the $425-$450 million range). Launch vehicle costs are running $150 million. That is way more than 5-10% of the cost. And it means that three rockets are the equivalent of another mission.

NASA did some budgetary shuffling to alleviate the direct pressure on individual programs by removing the vehicle cost from the Discovery and New Frontiers program caps. The reason was that vehicle costs were rising so fast that they were killing the principal investigators doing the missions. Suppose you are a PI on a Discovery mission and when you start building your spacecraft your Delta II is only going to cost $70 million, but by the time you get ready to launch, it has increased by $20 million. That has carved out $20 million that you could have used for your spacecraft. (Jim might have better numbers on this, but Delta II costs increased dramatically. I think that they more than doubled in a decade. Delta II was running at something like $60-$65 million in 2000, and probably like $120 million by 2009, as the result of the phase-out. Once it was phased out, even if you had a small spacecraft, you had to stick it atop a $150 million Atlas. And if you think this is bad, consider people in the Earth sciences and heliophysics, where they typically build a spacecraft for $250 million. You think they want to spend $150 million on a launch vehicle?)

There are several recent missions, including Juno and New Horizons, that got slammed by those increases--not only Delta II going up in cost, but being forced to shift from a Delta II to the more expensive Atlas V because DII was being phased out.

What NASA did in response was to lower the cost cap for the spacecraft (I don't know by how much) and remove the launch cost from the cap limit. That gave the PI less money, but insulated them from increasing launch vehicle costs. However, you can figure this out--NASA still had to pay the rising costs of the launch vehicles, so they ultimately do less missions.

If you look in any report about the planetary science program produced in the last five years you will find that they discuss the negative impact of rising launch costs. It is a very big deal.
« Last Edit: 12/08/2012 01:51 PM by Blackstar »

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Re: NASA Announces New Rover to Close Out Decade of New Missions
« Reply #144 on: 12/08/2012 01:53 PM »
There are several recent missions, including Juno and New Horizons, that got slammed by those increases--not only Delta II going up in cost, but being forced to shift from a Delta II to the more expensive Atlas V because DII was being phased out.

I find it hard to believe that either one of those two missions could have launched on Delta II in the first place, given their mass and C3 requirements. What am I missing here?

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Re: NASA Announces New Rover to Close Out Decade of New Missions
« Reply #145 on: 12/08/2012 03:20 PM »
There are several recent missions, including Juno and New Horizons, that got slammed by those increases--not only Delta II going up in cost, but being forced to shift from a Delta II to the more expensive Atlas V because DII was being phased out.

I find it hard to believe that either one of those two missions could have launched on Delta II in the first place, given their mass and C3 requirements. What am I missing here?

I was referring to other missions that have had to move from Delta II to Atlas V.

Cost increases happened to Delta II, they happened to Atlas V, and the retirement of the Delta II forced a transition to the more expensive Atlas V.

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Re: NASA Announces New Rover to Close Out Decade of New Missions
« Reply #146 on: 12/08/2012 03:49 PM »
There are several recent missions, including Juno and New Horizons, that got slammed by those increases--not only Delta II going up in cost, but being forced to shift from a Delta II to the more expensive Atlas V because DII was being phased out.

I find it hard to believe that either one of those two missions could have launched on Delta II in the first place, given their mass and C3 requirements. What am I missing here?

I was referring to other missions that have had to move from Delta II to Atlas V.

Cost increases happened to Delta II, they happened to Atlas V, and the retirement of the Delta II forced a transition to the more expensive Atlas V.

Interesting, I didn't know that.  Any likelihood of using Falcon 9 or is it far too early for them to trust it at this point?

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Re: NASA Announces New Rover to Close Out Decade of New Missions
« Reply #147 on: 12/08/2012 06:15 PM »
Interesting, I didn't know that.  Any likelihood of using Falcon 9 or is it far too early for them to trust it at this point?

Too early.

They would like to use Falcon 9, assuming that it can hit its promised cost goals and reliability. But it has to demonstrate a number of successful missions before it will be accepted on the NASA launch services contract.

Offline stone

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Re: NASA Announces New Rover to Close Out Decade of New Missions
« Reply #148 on: 12/08/2012 06:24 PM »
Even if they can use MSL spare parts it will be challenging to stay below 1.5 G$. For me this sounds like: Do not change anything which means significant cost increase.

Changing from MMRTG to anything different must be cheap, which I doubt is the case.

Instruments should come from Nasa spare parts or from other countries, because they do not cost anything for Nasa.

Risky things like change to new technologies increases the cost risk and will not be done.

Is this what will happen?

For me it is good, I am happy to be part in a DLR financed instrument like MOMA or another LD-MD GC-MS Instrument which will be not to low on the list for the 2020 rover.


Offline stone

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Re: NASA Announces New Rover to Close Out Decade of New Missions
« Reply #149 on: 12/08/2012 06:26 PM »
Grunsfeld asked in his talk for voluntiers for the science definition team for the new rover and a few hands were raised. (more of  joke) In this process a more astrobiology rover or a more geology rover or a more geophysics rover might be  the outcome strongly depending on the group selected to do the science definition.

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Re: NASA Announces New Rover to Close Out Decade of New Missions
« Reply #150 on: 12/08/2012 08:50 PM »
Grunsfeld asked in his talk for voluntiers for the science definition team for the new rover and a few hands were raised. (more of  joke) In this process a more astrobiology rover or a more geology rover or a more geophysics rover might be  the outcome strongly depending on the group selected to do the science definition.

It's going to end up as astrobiology with sample caching for future Mars sample return. There is no way that they can build this rover and not have caching and still satisfy the Mars community. The Mars community is pretty united in support of sample return.

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Re: NASA Announces New Rover to Close Out Decade of New Missions
« Reply #151 on: 12/08/2012 09:00 PM »
Even if they can use MSL spare parts it will be challenging to stay below 1.5 G$. For me this sounds like: Do not change anything which means significant cost increase.

Figuring out the exact cost for Curiosity is probably a little difficult because you have to adjust for inflation. I do not know if anybody have adjusted the cost for 2012 year dollars, but the total cost has been stated as $2.5 billion. The cost of the 2020 rover is expressed in 2015 dollars.

The Mars Program Planning Group used the same contractor (Aerospace Corp) and the same CATE process that we used in the planetary decadal survey. This rover had an estimated cost (in FY2015 dollars) of $1.3-$1.7 billion, so NASA is quoting the middle of that range.

I think that we can have reasonable confidence in their numbers. Several things drove up the cost of Curiosity and those things should not happen this time. Missing the 2009 launch window cost them over $400 million. If you assume that they do not miss their launch window, that should cut the cost to $2.1 billion. Now assume that they do not make any of the mistakes or other bad choices that they made before (because they know what the right decision is). That probably eliminates another couple hundred million dollars. The rest of the reduction compared to Curiosity's cost comes from a) the spare parts that they have, and b) no need for designing major parts of the system, and probably reduced amounts of testing.

But then you have to add in the cost of inflation, add in the cost of any changes to the instrument suite, add in the costs of getting new suppliers in case some have gone out of business, and probably a few more things.

Re-using the Curiosity design should save them a fair amount of money. The only big issue would be if some of the subcontractors have gone away and need to be replaced.


Offline Eric Hedman

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Re: NASA Announces New Rover to Close Out Decade of New Missions
« Reply #152 on: 12/08/2012 09:37 PM »
Grunsfeld asked in his talk for voluntiers for the science definition team for the new rover and a few hands were raised. (more of  joke) In this process a more astrobiology rover or a more geology rover or a more geophysics rover might be  the outcome strongly depending on the group selected to do the science definition.

It's going to end up as astrobiology with sample caching for future Mars sample return. There is no way that they can build this rover and not have caching and still satisfy the Mars community. The Mars community is pretty united in support of sample return.
If caching is involved, I am assuming that selecting a landing site for this rover pretty much also means picking the landing site for the followup sample return mission.  If so, what limits does this put on site selections?  Latitude?  Terrain?  Elevation of site?

Offline Star One

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Re: NASA Announces New Rover to Close Out Decade of New Missions
« Reply #153 on: 12/08/2012 10:03 PM »
Is this true though?  Launch costs are 5-10% of a planetary mission and well understood.  It is the spacecraft that are expensive and most likely to suffer unreasonable cost growth.

It is absolutely true. Consider that a Discovery class mission is approximately $500 million (recent ones have been in the $425-$450 million range). Launch vehicle costs are running $150 million. That is way more than 5-10% of the cost. And it means that three rockets are the equivalent of another mission.

NASA did some budgetary shuffling to alleviate the direct pressure on individual programs by removing the vehicle cost from the Discovery and New Frontiers program caps. The reason was that vehicle costs were rising so fast that they were killing the principal investigators doing the missions. Suppose you are a PI on a Discovery mission and when you start building your spacecraft your Delta II is only going to cost $70 million, but by the time you get ready to launch, it has increased by $20 million. That has carved out $20 million that you could have used for your spacecraft. (Jim might have better numbers on this, but Delta II costs increased dramatically. I think that they more than doubled in a decade. Delta II was running at something like $60-$65 million in 2000, and probably like $120 million by 2009, as the result of the phase-out. Once it was phased out, even if you had a small spacecraft, you had to stick it atop a $150 million Atlas. And if you think this is bad, consider people in the Earth sciences and heliophysics, where they typically build a spacecraft for $250 million. You think they want to spend $150 million on a launch vehicle?)

There are several recent missions, including Juno and New Horizons, that got slammed by those increases--not only Delta II going up in cost, but being forced to shift from a Delta II to the more expensive Atlas V because DII was being phased out.

What NASA did in response was to lower the cost cap for the spacecraft (I don't know by how much) and remove the launch cost from the cap limit. That gave the PI less money, but insulated them from increasing launch vehicle costs. However, you can figure this out--NASA still had to pay the rising costs of the launch vehicles, so they ultimately do less missions.

If you look in any report about the planetary science program produced in the last five years you will find that they discuss the negative impact of rising launch costs. It is a very big deal.

This has been all very informative. But what have been the factors in driving up launch costs in recent years, why have launchers become so expensive?

Offline Dalhousie

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Re: NASA Announces New Rover to Close Out Decade of New Missions
« Reply #154 on: 12/09/2012 01:24 AM »
Is this true though?  Launch costs are 5-10% of a planetary mission and well understood.  It is the spacecraft that are expensive and most likely to suffer unreasonable cost growth.

It is absolutely true. Consider that a Discovery class mission is approximately $500 million (recent ones have been in the $425-$450 million range). Launch vehicle costs are running $150 million. That is way more than 5-10% of the cost. And it means that three rockets are the equivalent of another mission.

NASA did some budgetary shuffling to alleviate the direct pressure on individual programs by removing the vehicle cost from the Discovery and New Frontiers program caps. The reason was that vehicle costs were rising so fast that they were killing the principal investigators doing the missions. Suppose you are a PI on a Discovery mission and when you start building your spacecraft your Delta II is only going to cost $70 million, but by the time you get ready to launch, it has increased by $20 million. That has carved out $20 million that you could have used for your spacecraft. (Jim might have better numbers on this, but Delta II costs increased dramatically. I think that they more than doubled in a decade. Delta II was running at something like $60-$65 million in 2000, and probably like $120 million by 2009, as the result of the phase-out. Once it was phased out, even if you had a small spacecraft, you had to stick it atop a $150 million Atlas. And if you think this is bad, consider people in the Earth sciences and heliophysics, where they typically build a spacecraft for $250 million. You think they want to spend $150 million on a launch vehicle?)

There are several recent missions, including Juno and New Horizons, that got slammed by those increases--not only Delta II going up in cost, but being forced to shift from a Delta II to the more expensive Atlas V because DII was being phased out.

What NASA did in response was to lower the cost cap for the spacecraft (I don't know by how much) and remove the launch cost from the cap limit. That gave the PI less money, but insulated them from increasing launch vehicle costs. However, you can figure this out--NASA still had to pay the rising costs of the launch vehicles, so they ultimately do less missions.

If you look in any report about the planetary science program produced in the last five years you will find that they discuss the negative impact of rising launch costs. It is a very big deal.

Thanks for this.  I was thinking of MSL where the launch cost is (or was) only about 5%.  But spacecraft cost is still the biggest component, and this suggests that it might be better to ry and reduce costs with these for a bigger impact.
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Re: NASA Announces New Rover to Close Out Decade of New Missions
« Reply #155 on: 12/09/2012 02:35 AM »
Thanks for this.  I was thinking of MSL where the launch cost is (or was) only about 5%.  But spacecraft cost is still the biggest component, and this suggests that it might be better to ry and reduce costs with these for a bigger impact.

Of course the biggest impact is going to be on the cheapest spacecraft. Discovery and New Frontiers have taken hits. We could undoubtedly afford more Discovery missions if we still had an inexpensive Delta II.

I grabbed this out of a Space News article on heliophysics missions:

"Explorer missions are led by a single scientist called a principal investigator. These cost-capped, competitively selected missions typically have a budget of $120 million to $180 million, including launch. Heliophysics and astronomy once shared a common Explorer budget account, but beginning in 2012 the two disciplines got separate Explorer budget lines."

I don't know what kinds of rockets Explorer missions use, but if they have to go on an Atlas V, which costs around $150 million, you can see that up to half of the mission cost could be the launch vehicle.

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Re: NASA Announces New Rover to Close Out Decade of New Missions
« Reply #156 on: 12/09/2012 02:51 AM »
This has been all very informative. But what have been the factors in driving up launch costs in recent years, why have launchers become so expensive?

I don't know this all that well. Jim might know, if he is reading this thread.

There are several factors that I know of. Delta II infrastructure costs (like the pad) were covered by the USAF and so NASA really only had to pay for the launch vehicle. For reasons I don't understand, the Delta II costs started going up before the USAF stopped using the Delta II. They rose pretty rapidly too. Now I think I read somewhere that in some ways Delta II costs were actually artificially high because USAF had a rapid-launch requirement for Delta II in order to replace sick GPS satellites. That meant that they kept full crews on contract, etc. If USAF had dropped that requirement, then Boeing could have run a more efficient infrastructure for Delta II and the costs would have been lower for USAF. But once USAF decided not to cover the infrastructure costs at all, NASA got hit with the full expense. Like USAF, NASA moved to the Atlas V. USAF covers the infrastructure costs on Atlas and Delta, and NASA goes along for the ride.

Atlas V and Delta IV costs started increasing rapidly several years ago. I don't know why. United Launch Alliance claims that the reason has to do with the "unfair" (my word, but that's what they imply) way in which the government contracts with them. There is some kind of requirement that they be able to guarantee costs and capabilities many years in advance, and this leads to ULA high-balling the costs to cover the possibility that things might be expensive for them and eat into their profit margin. I don't know about it, don't understand it. Lots of people claim that it really comes down to ULA having a monopoly on launches for the US government, so they can charge whatever the heck they want and don't need to try and keep things inexpensive. The recent announcement by USAF that they will buy at least three Falcon 9 launches in the next several years may help to break this monopoly. We'll see.

But I'd rather not turn this into a discussion of the Falcon 9. As you may have seen elsewhere on this site, some people here think that the Falcon 9 has magical powers and can defeat Voldemoort, and I'm a little tired of their... enthusiasm.

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Re: NASA Announces New Rover to Close Out Decade of New Missions
« Reply #157 on: 12/09/2012 03:07 AM »
If caching is involved, I am assuming that selecting a landing site for this rover pretty much also means picking the landing site for the followup sample return mission.  If so, what limits does this put on site selections?  Latitude?  Terrain?  Elevation of site?

Yeah, I think that's probably true. After all, the rover is not going to travel that far during its operations, so you're probably going to have to land the Mars Ascent Vehicle (MAV) within a few tens of kilometers of the rover landing site at most.

I don't know the answers, however. The Mars Ascent Vehicle shouldn't necessarily require a skycrane. If you go to the planetary decadal website you can find the MAV mission study there (actually, this is the NASA site that contains all of those studies):

http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/2013decadal/whitepapers.cfm?Category=MS

You want the "Lander" study. Also the 2018 opportunity skycrane study. See also the MAX-C and Orbiter studies as well.

I would bet that these will not answer your questions. They were quick studies, not exhaustive. Not sure who could answer your questions. Sorry.

I do know the guy who co-chaired the Curiosity landing site selection team. He may eventually (if he has not already) produce a paper on how they made their selection. They narrowed down the sites according to basic engineering parameters and science, then gave the final set to JPL and let the program team make the final site selection based upon engineering considerations. I remember him saying that all four sites were excellent, but he was biased towards two of them, one of which was Gale Crater. He said he would have been happy with any of the four. (I think that after they missed the 2009 window the site selection team went back and added a site to the list that they had already narrowed. They did this because they had more time. Then they eliminated that new addition.)

My guess is that the four that they selected for Curiosity would be near the top of the list for the next rover, although there is probably a difference between "Which site would you select for Curiosity with its instruments?" and "Which site would you pick for gathering samples for return to Earth?" Lots of things could enter into that latter equation. For instance, you might want a broader range of samples rather than a high probability of getting just one kind of sample. And Curiosity's findings would also affect that as well. If it discovers something very interesting, we just might send the 2020 rover back to Gale Crater. Considering the increased complexity, they might start thinking about site selection now!


Offline Dalhousie

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Re: NASA Announces New Rover to Close Out Decade of New Missions
« Reply #158 on: 12/09/2012 04:58 AM »
http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/2013decadal/whitepapers.cfm?Category=MS
If it discovers something very interesting, we just might send the 2020 rover back to Gale Crater. Considering the increased complexity, they might start thinking about site selection now!

Which is why it's a shame that the caching capability was left of Curosity (to contain cost, as I understand)
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Offline LegendCJS

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Re: NASA Announces New Rover to Close Out Decade of New Missions
« Reply #159 on: 12/09/2012 05:00 AM »
This has been all very informative. But what have been the factors in driving up launch costs in recent years, why have launchers become so expensive?

I don't know this all that well. Jim might know, if he is reading this thread.

There are several factors that I know of. Delta II infrastructure costs (like the pad) were covered by the USAF and so NASA really only had to pay for the launch vehicle. For reasons I don't understand, the Delta II costs started going up before the USAF stopped using the Delta II. They rose pretty rapidly too. Now I think I read somewhere that in some ways Delta II costs were actually artificially high because USAF had a rapid-launch requirement for Delta II in order to replace sick GPS satellites. That meant that they kept full crews on contract, etc. If USAF had dropped that requirement, then Boeing could have run a more efficient infrastructure for Delta II and the costs would have been lower for USAF. But once USAF decided not to cover the infrastructure costs at all, NASA got hit with the full expense. Like USAF, NASA moved to the Atlas V. USAF covers the infrastructure costs on Atlas and Delta, and NASA goes along for the ride.

Atlas V and Delta IV costs started increasing rapidly several years ago. I don't know why. United Launch Alliance claims that the reason has to do with the "unfair" (my word, but that's what they imply) way in which the government contracts with them. There is some kind of requirement that they be able to guarantee costs and capabilities many years in advance, and this leads to ULA high-balling the costs to cover the possibility that things might be expensive for them and eat into their profit margin. I don't know about it, don't understand it. Lots of people claim that it really comes down to ULA having a monopoly on launches for the US government, so they can charge whatever the heck they want and don't need to try and keep things inexpensive. The recent announcement by USAF that they will buy at least three Falcon 9 launches in the next several years may help to break this monopoly. We'll see.

But I'd rather not turn this into a discussion of the Falcon 9. As you may have seen elsewhere on this site, some people here think that the Falcon 9 has magical powers and can defeat Voldemoort, and I'm a little tired of their... enthusiasm.
I had read that there was a kind of backdoor supplement for years helping to indirectly keep ULA costs down in the form of NASA payments for engine support for the Space Shuttle, but no one realized it.  When the Shuttle program wound down the ULA costs saw a spike.  This was a surprise to everyone because for years the Air Force had been feeling sore that they were the only ones supplementing ULA costs through the infrastructure payments, but after the NASA engine supplement cost spike both NASA and the Air Force realized that things had been more fair all along in terms of both parties supplementing the launch costs.

Just goes to show how black box the whole operation is.  No wonder it has its detractors.
« Last Edit: 12/09/2012 08:00 PM by LegendCJS »
Remember: if we want this whole space thing to work out we have to optimize for cost!

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Re: NASA Announces New Rover to Close Out Decade of New Missions
« Reply #160 on: 12/09/2012 05:32 AM »
Which is why it's a shame that the caching capability was left of Curosity (to contain cost, as I understand)

The cacher that was supposed to go on Curiosity was not a real cacher. It was only supposed to collect small rock shards in a cage-like device (by filtering through a grid), not the broad range of samples that scientists really want. (If you are interested, you should look around the internet for a description of the kind of sophisticated cacher that they want to fly on a future mission. Although it's a high-tech canister, it is pretty interesting how it is carefully designed so that it can be completely sealed up containing multiple samples. You'd think that this would be simple, but it's not. Remember, it is designed to be used by a robot, and it absolutely cannot fail. No jamming or getting stuck or anything like that.) Alan Stern was the one who wanted the caching device on Curiosity, and he paid for it using his Associate Administrator's contingency fund. I think the cost was a couple million dollars.

That said, I heard Scott Hubbard say that he thought it would have been a good idea, not because of the samples it collected but because it would have given the team experience with caching operations. They would have learned a lot that would have been useful for a future mission.

My understanding is that it was not deleted because of cost (it was essentially paid for). Instead, it was deleted because experience with Phoenix indicated that they needed to worry about the stickiness of Martian soil, so they put something else at that spot on the rover that they can use to clean off the instruments on the arm, or something like that. Officially, people said that it was a "real estate" issue.

That said, the decision to delete it was ultimately made by the AA who replaced Stern, and that person made no secret of his disdain for Stern's decisions as AA. As another former AA said about the decision, "The first thing the new lion does when he takes over is kill all the cubs."

Who knows where the truth lies? I once met one of the guys who was at Ames and working on the sample cacher. He showed me his early engineering drawings, and I vaguely remember him showing me a simple mockup. After it got canceled I ran into him and he was resigned to the whole thing and joked that he had a $2 million piece of useless equipment sitting in his locked filing cabinet.
« Last Edit: 12/09/2012 05:35 AM by Blackstar »

Offline Dalhousie

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Re: NASA Announces New Rover to Close Out Decade of New Missions
« Reply #161 on: 12/09/2012 08:40 PM »
The cacher that was supposed to go on Curiosity....

Thanks for the inside story on this.
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Offline Mader Levap

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Re: NASA Announces New Rover to Close Out Decade of New Missions
« Reply #162 on: 12/10/2012 04:35 PM »
For me - layman getting news from space websites and forums - it was a lot more sinister than that.

MSL then had serious problems with money - and someone wanted to put some fancy, costly and useless bondoogle on it, getting away with it only because money for cacher was from different pot. I was rather... annoyed with this and thought this money would be better spend helping MSL's financial troubles instead of making toy destined to stroke Stern's ego. Fortunately, someone saner axed it.
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Re: NASA Announces New Rover to Close Out Decade of New Missions
« Reply #163 on: 12/10/2012 05:51 PM »
For me - layman getting news from space websites and forums - it was a lot more sinister than that.

MSL then had serious problems with money - and someone wanted to put some fancy, costly and useless bondoogle on it, getting away with it only because money for cacher was from different pot. I was rather... annoyed with this and thought this money would be better spend helping MSL's financial troubles instead of making toy destined to stroke Stern's ego. Fortunately, someone saner axed it.

I heard Stern himself explain it. And the money came from his discretionary account (I think that he said that the AA had something like $4 million in that account and he allocated $2.5 million for the cacher). I know some people thought it was a way to claim that MSL/Curiosity was doing sample caching when it was not. Who knows? It was a pretty minor aspect of the whole project.

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Offline JohnFornaro

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Re: NASA Announces New Rover to Close Out Decade of New Missions
« Reply #165 on: 12/10/2012 09:54 PM »
For instance, you might want a broader range of samples rather than a high probability of getting just one kind of sample.

Like up one side and down the other of the whole river bed. 

Just sayin'.
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Offline robertross

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Re: NASA Announces New Rover to Close Out Decade of New Missions
« Reply #166 on: 12/10/2012 10:52 PM »
It's too bad the SLS/Orion wasn't far enough along that they could use it to launch a recovery mission for the samples - to prove the systems & saving the price tag for a lander & surface ops.
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Offline Robotbeat

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Re: NASA Announces New Rover to Close Out Decade of New Missions
« Reply #167 on: 12/10/2012 11:37 PM »
daheck does Orion have to do with it...

And actually, doesn't need SLS. Other launch vehicles would work.
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Re: NASA Announces New Rover to Close Out Decade of New Missions
« Reply #168 on: 12/10/2012 11:40 PM »
daheck does Orion have to do with it...

And actually, doesn't need SLS. Other launch vehicles would work.

Politics. Get an Orion mission around Mars, which proves the systems, and then you have a goal to finally land people on the moon. That's all.

Not a snowball's chance, I know, but still intriguing.
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Re: NASA Announces New Rover to Close Out Decade of New Missions
« Reply #169 on: 12/10/2012 11:50 PM »
daheck does Orion have to do with it...

And actually, doesn't need SLS. Other launch vehicles would work.

Politics. Get an Orion mission around Mars, which proves the systems, and then you have a goal to finally land people on the moon. That's all.

Not a snowball's chance, I know, but still intriguing.
Well, if it were a manned orbital Mars mission, I could see Orion being used (in addition to Deep space hab and propulsion unit). Not otherwise, though. Way too pointless to send Orion.
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Re: NASA Announces New Rover to Close Out Decade of New Missions
« Reply #170 on: 12/11/2012 03:22 PM »
Well, if it were a manned orbital Mars mission, I could see Orion being used (in addition to Deep space hab and propulsion unit). Not otherwise, though. Way too pointless to send Orion.

There is a potential use of SLS and large rockets in general for planetary exploration. But it gets so easily distorted, both by NASA and by people outside the agency, that it's a dangerous topic.

We could split the issue into two separate questions/subjects:

1-Use of very large rockets like SLS for dedicated planetary missions (or other space science missions).

2-Opportunistic use of very large rockets like SLS for planetary missions (or other space science missions).


Topic 1 is what gets the most attention, although it doesn't get a lot of attention (and shouldn't). You can get benefits out of using a big rocket for some space science missions. For example, if you are planning to send a spacecraft to Europa, a very large rocket can reduce your travel times substantially, and also allow you to carry more shielding.

The danger--and it is a big danger--is that these missions are automatically expensive. The rocket itself is expensive. And the spacecraft will almost always be expensive too. There is an argument that you could hold the cost of the spacecraft down and simply add capability in cheap ways, like more fuel or faster transit times. But I don't know anybody who really buys that. There's going to be a tendency to grow the payload and therefore the cost, and very quickly you have a mission that simply busts the science budget wide open.

People who talk loosely about this stuff rarely have a sense of what these things cost, but an expensive space science mission is a billion dollars or more. When you start looking at payloads for really big rockets, they quickly go up to two, three, four, seven billion dollars, which is way more than the science program can afford. Add in a billion dollars for the launch vehicle. The wavefront collapses into mush and the mission is not doable.


(more in the next post)

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Re: NASA Announces New Rover to Close Out Decade of New Missions
« Reply #171 on: 12/11/2012 03:27 PM »
Topic 2 is the opportunistic use of a large rocket like SLS. In other words, the human spaceflight program, which owns the rocket, decides that they need to test it or test a spacecraft. This then provides an opportunity for the scientists to ride along.

This is potentially useful for the science community, but with a big fat "HOWEVER..." attached to it. The reason is that beggars don't get to be choosers, and there is always the danger that the group that is providing the ride (the human spaceflight program) will change its mission design, or cancel the mission, and the science program will get stiffed. There is also the fact that the science program runs according to its own rules and priorities, and they may not be able or willing to take advantage of the opportunity when it comes along.

For example, suppose NASA has planned a robotic mission to Europa for the mid 2020s. Then the human spaceflight program comes along and says "Hey, we're going to send a large unmanned vehicle to Mars to test aerobraking. Do you want to come along for the ride?" Science might love to have that opportunity, but does this mean that they cancel the Europa mission to pay for stuff to put on the Mars mission? And then what happens when the human spaceflight program changes its mission design and the opportunity evaporates? Now the science program has a bunch of stuff that they cannot fly, and they have also wrecked their Europa mission plans.

(more in another post)

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Re: NASA Announces New Rover to Close Out Decade of New Missions
« Reply #172 on: 12/11/2012 03:37 PM »
Now there have been some attempts at NASA and JPL to look at both topics 1 and 2--in other words, what can a large rocket like SLS offer to planetary missions, and what if there was an opportunity available on a human spaceflight mission or test mission?

The problem is that these efforts have usually been pretty half-assed. If there's one thing I've learned from watching a lot of studies conducted over the years, it is that your initial starting conditions and the composition of your study are important. Often, when these kinds of studies have been done, they make some mistakes right off the bat. A big problem is that they do not carefully control the starting parameters and ground rules to make sure that the study is something that is realistic (in terms of budget), rather than fantasyland. And so what happens is that they get a group of people together, they all put on their Star Trek uniforms, and then they design some science fictional study that is nowhere near realistic. The end results are just crazy, and anybody who looks at it afterwards will say "What you have proposed will cost $15 billion and will never get funded. You just wasted everybody's time."

The other thing that sometimes happens is that they don't staff these studies properly. They stick a bunch of human spaceflight people on the study and then one or two scientists, and so the study ends up reflecting what the human spaceflight people think that the science program can do rather than what it actually can do. Often this happens in order to justify the rocket. A bunch of these SLS briefings reflect that--it's the guys who want to build the big rocket saying "Hey! It can do X, Y, and Z!" and what they are saying is not realistic, and they don't really know what they're talking about. You can hang out with a group of planetary scientists for a week and never hear the word "SLS" (other than them saying that it is going to eat their lunch). They don't have much use for it. But if you go to the guys making the rocket, they will talk about all the wonderful things it will do.

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Re: NASA Announces New Rover to Close Out Decade of New Missions
« Reply #173 on: 12/11/2012 08:31 PM »
(cont.)

So where am I going with all of this?

A few years ago (around 2007 or so) NASA did an internal study of Ares V and robotic science missions on Mars. The study was called CEMMENT (Worst. Acronym. Ever.). The gist of the study was that if you assume a human Mars mission, then before you send humans to Mars, you may have to test the large descent vehicle. That would be a robotic mission to the Martian surface. If you are going to fly such an engineering test mission, it offers the opportunity to send robotic science spacecraft to the Martian surface as well.

Logical, right?

The problem with the CEMMENT study was that instead of coming up with realistic things that you could do with that vehicle, they went nuts and packed it full of spacecraft. They had rovers, orbiters, a drilling rig. Just a lot of nuttiness. Just a simple back-of-the-envelope guess indicates that the robotic spacecraft would probably cost over $8 billion or more, which is far more money than the planetary science program would have to spend in a decade.

The CEMMENT study was a perfect example of how not to do this kind of trade study. Instead of trying to fit something into a notional budget, they tried to fit something into a notional payload fairing. It was a shame, because somebody could have come up with some interesting ways to take advantage of that capability.

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: NASA Announces New Rover to Close Out Decade of New Missions
« Reply #174 on: 12/11/2012 10:24 PM »
Very good series of posts.

What I was talking about was using a human orbital mission to Mars that would happen anyway (not THAT unrealistic) to simply retrieve a MSR canister in Mars orbit. If you happened to have a manned mission to Mars orbit, how difficult would it be to retrieve a canister that happened to also be in Mars orbit around that timeframe?

Presumably, that could save the science folks a couple billion in development while making the manned spaceflight program look like they're doing something that is actually deemed scientifically useful, assuming they were going to do a manne orbital mission first as a precursor to a surface mission anyway.

Lots of problems with it, and the science folks are probably cared to death of hitching themselves to human spaceflight, for the very good reasons you outlined. But something to think about, since ostensibly the decadal survey says we should do a MSR by the 2030s, which is the same timeframe that the Bronco Bama administration says we should be doing Mars missions (and since all the pieces for a mars orbit mission are being worked on or defined... Propulsion unit, Orion, deep space hab, etc... Provided these yearlong ISS missions are a smashing success). Huge grains of salt, obviously.
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Re: NASA Announces New Rover to Close Out Decade of New Missions
« Reply #175 on: 12/12/2012 12:05 AM »
Very good series of posts.

What I was talking about was using a human orbital mission to Mars that would happen anyway (not THAT unrealistic) to simply retrieve a MSR canister in Mars orbit. If you happened to have a manned mission to Mars orbit, how difficult would it be to retrieve a canister that happened to also be in Mars orbit around that timeframe?

If you want something done right, you better do it yourself. Meaning, if the science community really wants sample return from Mars, they should (and would) plan for all parts of the mission themselves. It would be folly to do the first steps and then expect the human program to finish the job, for the simple reason that if the human program runs into trouble, the first thing they will dump overboard is any requirement that they did not generate themselves, such as the requirement to retrieve samples.

There are lots of examples of this in the past, but the best and most obvious one is the International Space Station. When ISS went way over-budget in 2002/3 NASA was told to get the costs under control and to cap the overall cost. Goldin was kicked out and O'Keefe brought in to do this. The solution was to toss overboard all of the science equipment and plans then in the pipeline.

Offline kevin-rf

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Re: NASA Announces New Rover to Close Out Decade of New Missions
« Reply #176 on: 12/12/2012 12:19 AM »
Personally, If you want sample return done right, it would be cheapest to send a geologist and have him pack the samples for return. And if he stays behind, that's 180lbs of extra samples ;)
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Offline robertross

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Re: NASA Announces New Rover to Close Out Decade of New Missions
« Reply #177 on: 12/12/2012 12:22 AM »
Very good series of posts.

What I was talking about was using a human orbital mission to Mars that would happen anyway (not THAT unrealistic) to simply retrieve a MSR canister in Mars orbit. If you happened to have a manned mission to Mars orbit, how difficult would it be to retrieve a canister that happened to also be in Mars orbit around that timeframe?

If you want something done right, you better do it yourself. Meaning, if the science community really wants sample return from Mars, they should (and would) plan for all parts of the mission themselves. It would be folly to do the first steps and then expect the human program to finish the job, for the simple reason that if the human program runs into trouble, the first thing they will dump overboard is any requirement that they did not generate themselves, such as the requirement to retrieve samples.

There are lots of examples of this in the past, but the best and most obvious one is the International Space Station. When ISS went way over-budget in 2002/3 NASA was told to get the costs under control and to cap the overall cost. Goldin was kicked out and O'Keefe brought in to do this. The solution was to toss overboard all of the science equipment and plans then in the pipeline.

A very good series of posts. Thank you.

I can see the folley in my thinking - bitting off more than I (or especially NASA & their limited budget & expected cost overruns) can chew.

I just see this SLS program with a 'goal' of getting to Mars, and needing to get some development & testing done, and being able to cover some costs of a retrieval mission in there. But yes, it would just add uneccessary complexity (especially cost).
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Offline robertross

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Re: NASA Announces New Rover to Close Out Decade of New Missions
« Reply #178 on: 12/12/2012 12:25 AM »
Personally, If you want sample return done right, it would be cheapest to send a geologist and have him pack the samples for return. And if he stays behind, that's 180lbs of extra samples ;)

I agree. I'll get a geologist's degree, and volunteer!  lol

:)
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Re: NASA Announces New Rover to Close Out Decade of New Missions
« Reply #179 on: 12/12/2012 02:07 PM »
f you want something done right, you better do it yourself. Meaning, if the science community really wants sample return from Mars, they should (and would) plan for all parts of the mission themselves, .. for the simple reason that if the human program runs into trouble, the first thing they will dump overboard is any requirement that they did not generate themselves, such as the requirement to retrieve samples.

There are lots of examples of this ... When ISS went way over-budget in 2002/3 NASA was told to get the costs under control and to cap the overall cost. Goldin was kicked out and O'Keefe brought in to do this. The solution was to toss overboard all of the science equipment and plans then in the pipeline.

The key phrase being "get the costs under control and to cap the overall cost".

Which is a problem, and the not-solution for that problem is "toss overboard all of the science equipment".

The agency is not structured properly; each fiefdom is in competition with the other fiefdoms instead of in cooperation with the other fiefdoms.  Furthermore, the agency's leadership perpetuates the competition by throwing this or that useful equipment under the bus, while blindly pursuing a theoretical idealization of a BFR, even as is being done at the moment.

But hey:  May the mass times acceleration be with you.
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Re: NASA Announces New Rover to Close Out Decade of New Missions
« Reply #180 on: 12/15/2012 12:14 PM »
This is a good summary:

http://www.thespacereview.com/article/2202/1

The resurrection of Mars Sample Return

by Pat Nealon
Monday, December 10, 2012

There had been rumors for a couple of weeks that NASA would make a big announcement about Mars at one of the largest annual meetings of scientists, the American Geophysical Union (AGU) conference in San Francisco. The rumors were about the possibility that NASA’s Curiosity rover had discovered something very interesting on Mars. As it turned out, the Curiosity science results, although interesting, were not nearly up to the hype. But NASA did make a major announcement at AGU: NASA is taking the first step towards the ultimate scientific goal for the red planet, Mars Sample Return.

Offline JohnFornaro

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Re: NASA Announces New Rover to Close Out Decade of New Missions
« Reply #181 on: 12/15/2012 01:52 PM »
NASA is taking the first step towards the ultimate scientific goal for the red planet, Mars Sample Return.

Since this would be the "ultimate" goal, one wonders whether or not there would be a "penultimate" goal after bringing home these few pounds of rocks.  And after that, an "ultra-penultimate" goal?  "Super-ultra-double-plus-good-penultimate"? Are they saying this be the last robotic Mars mission?  I think not.

Just from a grammatical standpoint, the word "ultimate" is being overused.  I wish they'd quit hyping stuff.
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Re: NASA Announces New Rover to Close Out Decade of New Missions
« Reply #182 on: 12/15/2012 04:49 PM »
Here's a quick chart from a recent presentation on how the Curiosity skycrane system evolved from earlier designs.

Offline vulture4

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Re: NASA Announces New Rover to Close Out Decade of New Missions
« Reply #183 on: 12/22/2012 08:49 PM »
NASA is taking the first step towards the ultimate scientific goal for the red planet, Mars Sample Return.

Since this would be the "ultimate" goal, one wonders whether or not there would be a "penultimate" goal after bringing home these few pounds of rocks.  And after that, an "ultra-penultimate" goal?  "Super-ultra-double-plus-good-penultimate"? Are they saying this be the last robotic Mars mission?  I think not.

Just from a grammatical standpoint, the word "ultimate" is being overused.  I wish they'd quit hyping stuff.

Not to split hairs, but the penultimate goal is the one that comes before the ultimate goal rather than after it.

Definition of PENULTIMATE
1: next to the last <the penultimate chapter of a book>
« Last Edit: 12/22/2012 08:50 PM by vulture4 »

Offline JohnFornaro

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Re: NASA Announces New Rover to Close Out Decade of New Missions
« Reply #184 on: 12/23/2012 12:12 AM »
Not to split hairs, but the penultimate goal is the one that comes before the ultimate goal rather than after it.

Back to grammar school!  Thanks for the splitting of the hairs.  Even so, they overuse the word "ultimate".
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Offline TheMightyM

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Re: NASA Announces New Rover to Close Out Decade of New Missions
« Reply #185 on: 12/26/2012 10:01 AM »
Sorry to be so late in getting to this. My immediate thought when reading about this proposed mission: where’s the money coming from, as a mission in 2020 of this scale really didn’t seem to be on the table before. The Space Review article that Blackstar referenced above sums the issue up nicely:

Quote
The rover announcement was a major, and welcome, surprise for Mars scientists. But it raises many questions. For starters, considering that Grunsfeld only expected to have $800 million available for a 2020 mission, how is NASA able to afford a $1.5 billion rover? NASA officials would only say that the money is “already in the budget.” But does this mean that it is being cut from other programs like New Frontiers, Discovery, and operational missions like Cassini? The planetary decadal survey addressed the entire solar system and one of its major recommendations was that NASA should seek to balance its program. If the 2020 rover comes at the expense of exploring the rest of the solar system, NASA will have simply found another way to subvert the planetary decadal survey, and the planetary science community’s wishes.

http://www.thespacereview.com/article/2202/1

So yes, what is the plan for exploring the rest of the solar system going forward? And when roughly can we now expect the next New Frontiers and Discovery to fly after OSIRIS-REx and InSight in 2016?

Offline Dalhousie

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Re: NASA Announces New Rover to Close Out Decade of New Missions
« Reply #186 on: 12/26/2012 10:33 AM »
Casey Deier of The Planetary Society has discussed this at some length.  This is funed from money already allocated to Mars.  No new money has been allocated, no extra money is needed, the money has not been taken away from other programs.

Today's announcement essentially designates money already set aside for a Mars mission to a specific mission concept. That's it. It did not take money away from outer planets missions, because in the 2013 budget there is no funding for outer planets missions. It did not unfairly prioritize Mars over other planets because this money had already been prioritized to Mars back in February.

http://www.planetary.org/blogs/casey-dreier/20121204-the-2020-rover-in-context.html
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Offline TheMightyM

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Re: NASA Announces New Rover to Close Out Decade of New Missions
« Reply #187 on: 12/26/2012 03:42 PM »
Dalhousie,

The issue isn't the FY2016 or FY 2017 budgets, which contain a combined total of $770 million for Mars Exploration — it’s that Mars Exploration is averaging $400 million+ a year for the three years after that as well to cover the rest of the costs of the new rover. You could argue that this amounts to NASA penciling in Mars Exploration as the largest line item — maybe even dominate item — in its planetary science account for the foreseeable future.

So yes, where does this leave New Frontiers and Discovery going forward?

And as a reference point, projected Mars Exploration, New Frontiers and Discovery for FY 2016 and FY 2017:

FY 2016: $720.6 million (Mars $266.9 million, NF $259.9 million, Disc. $193.8 million)
FY 2017: $792.5 million (Mars $503.1 million, NF $155.1 million, Disc. $134.3 million)

Offline Dalhousie

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Re: NASA Announces New Rover to Close Out Decade of New Missions
« Reply #188 on: 12/26/2012 09:04 PM »
New Horizons and Discovery are funded from separate pots of money.
« Last Edit: 08/19/2015 05:48 AM by Dalhousie »
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Re: NASA Announces New Rover to Close Out Decade of New Missions
« Reply #189 on: 12/26/2012 09:31 PM »
I'm sorta scratching my head at what you guys are saying.

New Frontiers (not New Horizons, which is the Pluto spacecraft that was the first New Frontiers mission), Discovery, and Mars each have their own budget lines. But they're not walled off from each other. In other words, OMB could decide to reduce New Frontiers by $50 million and increase Mars by $50 million. Think of them as separate teacups filled from a single teapot. And right now we don't know how much tea is going to be in that teapot, or how it will be distributed.

In the past 6-7 years, the Mars budget has been steadily going down at the same time that the rest of the planetary budget has been roughly stable. The end result is that the overall money spent on planetary science has been decreasing. In the most recent budget, the president proposed cutting Mars significantly and also cutting planetary, so both took a hit.

Now I'll admit that I don't follow the budget stuff very closely, but the problem--or the risk, to be more accurate--is that if OMB decides to keep cutting the overall planetary budget, while at the same time having approved a new $1.5 billion rover, then the reductions are going to hit hardest in the only other places where they can hit, which is New Frontiers, Discovery, active missions (like Cassini) and in research and analysis (R&A).

Now because sequestration is looming, Washington DC has become constipated and nobody is doing anything. This includes the normal budget process. The agencies were supposed to receive what is called passback from OMB around Thanksgiving. Passback is when OMB tells the agencies how much money they can expect to have in their large budget categories (agencies are usually then allowed to divvy it up at lower levels, although I think that the amount of leeway they have depends upon the agency--for several years now it has been well-known in space circles that NASA has not had much control over its budget at all, and OMB is directing how much NASA can spend even down to the few tens of millions of dollars).

What this probably means (and I say "probably," because I don't really know) is that right now NASA doesn't know if the planetary budget is going to take another hit from OMB. They don't know if New Frontiers and Discovery are going to get slammed in this budget too.

And it also means that the president's proposed budget, which is almost always released in early February, is not going to be released until March at the earliest.

Yeah, it's a mess.
« Last Edit: 12/26/2012 10:34 PM by Blackstar »

Offline Comga

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Re: NASA Announces New Rover to Close Out Decade of New Missions
« Reply #190 on: 12/27/2012 05:25 AM »
For me - layman getting news from space websites and forums - it was a lot more sinister than that.

MSL then had serious problems with money - and someone wanted to put some fancy, costly and useless bondoogle on it, getting away with it only because money for cacher was from different pot. I was rather... annoyed with this and thought this money would be better spend helping MSL's financial troubles instead of making toy destined to stroke Stern's ego. Fortunately, someone saner axed it.

Your perspective does not line up with my information. 
Attempting to keep the lid on MSL overruns is what cost Stern his job.
The minimal sample cache was not driven by ego.  It was a sincere attempt to make some progress towards Mars Sample Return.
Your annoyance might be important, and your counter-arguments considered, when your accomplishments approach that of Dr. Stern.  He is not everyone's favorite, by far, but your rude dismissal is inappropriate and reflects badly upon you, not the proposed MSL sample cache.
What kind of wastrels would dump a perfectly good booster in the ocean after just one use?

Offline Comga

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Re: NASA Announces New Rover to Close Out Decade of New Missions
« Reply #191 on: 12/27/2012 05:30 AM »
Is someone going to talk about repurposing the ejected off-set weights, too?  ::)

Ooh, Ooh, Ooh!  Deep Space 2.1!   :P
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Offline JohnFornaro

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Re: NASA Announces New Rover to Close Out Decade of New Missions
« Reply #192 on: 12/27/2012 02:05 PM »
...
Attempting to keep the lid on MSL overruns is what cost Stern his job.

The minimal sample cache was not driven by ego.  It was a sincere attempt to make some progress towards Mars Sample Return. ...

That's interesting.  Up the thread, BlackStar reports that Stern had funded the caching mechanism to the tune of $2.5M, from some discretionary fund that he had exclusive control over.

I heard Stern himself explain it. And the money came from his discretionary account ... (... he allocated $2.5 million for the cacher). I know some people thought it was a way to claim that MSL/Curiosity was doing sample caching when it was not. Who knows? It was a pretty minor aspect of the whole project.

From a mathematical standpoint, $2.5M is minimal amount of money.  The two year delay at $400M was not.  There's a saying, "for want of a penny a kingdom was lost", which exemplifies how small errors can be magnified into fatal errors.

Did Stern's foray into sample caching affect the schedule?  Would either of you care to briefly summarize the circumstances around why he lost his job?  Some other thread link, maybe?

Is someone going to talk about repurposing the ejected off-set weights, too? 

I could certainly use them as tractor  uhhh... rover excavator/dozer weights.   Better traction that way.
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Offline aero

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Re: NASA Announces New Rover to Close Out Decade of New Missions
« Reply #193 on: 12/27/2012 02:27 PM »
The off-set weights should be forged into pick-axes and rock hammers before use as weights. That way, future Mars colonists would have tools already on Mars for mining and sculpting as desired.
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Re: NASA Announces New Rover to Close Out Decade of New Missions
« Reply #194 on: 12/27/2012 03:40 PM »
The minimal sample cache was not driven by ego.  It was a sincere attempt to make some progress towards Mars Sample Return.

Well, let's not assume that ego is a bad thing. Ego is necessary in order to get things done--you have to be confident that your ideas are better than those of the people who oppose you, and ego drives you to push through opposition. Stern had lots of opinions, and one of his opinions was that it made sense to put some kind of sample return device on this big expensive rover that they were building. I heard him justify it once, but I cannot remember the specifics, although I do think that he tried to reassure people that it was only a practice caching device, not an actual caching device. I think the fact that the money to do it came out of his discretionary budget, and not the MSL program budget, made it harder for people to oppose him, because he wasn't canceling something else to do this.

I don't remember all the reasons for opposing the plan (and I probably never knew all the reasons for opposing it). There may have been technical and practical reasons. I believe that the policy reason for opposing it was that people were concerned that this "practice" sample cacher would soon get declared as the "actual" sample cacher. Thus, in the future, when the Mars program scientists argued that they needed to do a caching mission, people would say "But you already have done that. It's the samples on MSL. Go retrieve those." But the MSL cacher was simply going to contain shards of rock, not well-selected Mars samples.

I also remember at least one prominent Mars sample return proponent claiming that they would get a lot of useful practice with the device, so they should include it. And I also think that when it was eliminated, very few people shed tears over it, including the proponents. They generally agreed that there was a good reason for not including it.
« Last Edit: 12/27/2012 04:37 PM by Blackstar »

Offline Star One

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Re: NASA Announces New Rover to Close Out Decade of New Missions
« Reply #195 on: 08/06/2015 04:15 PM »
Mars 2020 Mulls Sample Preservation Strategies

Quote
HOUSTON — While it sizes up high-value landing site candidates for its next Mars rover, NASA is developing strategies for protecting dozens of potential rock and soil samples cached on the red planet for harvest and return to Earth at some time in the future. The Mars 2020 science objectives are to reach a landing site with ancient astrobiological potential and geological diversity, look for rocks with high potential for biosignatures, and acquire and preserve samples of rocks and ...

You'll need to login to see the rest I'm afraid.

http://m.aviationweek.com/space/mars-2020-mulls-sample-preservation-strategies

Offline TrevorMonty

Mars 2020 rover may get a drone for scouting. Can potentially triple rovers daily travel distance.

http://www.popsci.com/nasa-to-test-drone-scout-for-mars-2020-rover?src=SOC&dom=tw
« Last Edit: 11/21/2015 05:21 PM by TrevorMonty »

Offline Star One

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Re: NASA Announces New Rover to Close Out Decade of New Missions
« Reply #197 on: 11/21/2015 06:38 PM »

Mars 2020 rover may get a drone for scouting. Can potentially triple rovers daily travel distance.

http://www.popsci.com/nasa-to-test-drone-scout-for-mars-2020-rover?src=SOC&dom=tw

I am going to ask these threads to be merged we keep getting duplicated content.

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