Author Topic: New Frontiers 4  (Read 29860 times)

Offline vjkane

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New Frontiers 4
« on: 01/07/2016 06:27 PM »
NASA has previewed the New Frontiers 4 mission selection

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

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

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


Community Announcement Regarding New Frontiers Program Announcement of
Opportunity

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

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

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

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

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

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

The time frame for the solicitation is intended to be:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Questions may be addressed to Dr. Curt Niebur, New Frontiers Program
Lead Scientist, Planetary Science Division, Science Mission
Directorate, NASA, Washington, DC 20546; Tel.: (202) 358-0390; E-mail:
curt.niebur@nasa.gov.

Offline NovaSilisko

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #1 on: 01/07/2016 06:35 PM »
I'd be pretty enthusiastic about any of those... except the Saturn Probe. Seven years of travel for 55 minutes of data collection, taking up an entire New Frontiers slot doesn't seem like a very good trade. Granted we've never explored Saturn's atmosphere, but it seems like the sort of thing that ought to be piggybacked on another mission rather than butting out all the other missions on this list which look to me to have a much higher overall volume of science return than the probe.

Offline Blackstar

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #2 on: 01/07/2016 08:20 PM »
I'd be pretty enthusiastic about any of those... except the Saturn Probe. Seven years of travel for 55 minutes of data collection, taking up an entire New Frontiers slot doesn't seem like a very good trade. Granted we've never explored Saturn's atmosphere, but it seems like the sort of thing that ought to be piggybacked on another mission rather than butting out all the other missions on this list which look to me to have a much higher overall volume of science return than the probe.

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


Offline Star One

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New Frontiers 4
« Reply #3 on: 01/07/2016 08:44 PM »
Just for my clarification is that an orbiter that will only visit Enceladus & Titan. If so what will it offer over what we have already obtained science wise from Cassini?
« Last Edit: 01/07/2016 08:45 PM by Star One »

Offline vjkane

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #4 on: 01/07/2016 09:19 PM »
Just for my clarification is that an orbiter that will only visit Enceladus & Titan. If so what will it offer over what we have already obtained science wise from Cassini?
Far, far better instruments.

Offline hop

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #5 on: 01/07/2016 09:25 PM »
Just for my clarification is that an orbiter that will only visit Enceladus & Titan. If so what will it offer over what we have already obtained science wise from Cassini?
Far, far better instruments.
...and they would be specifically targeted based on what we've learned from Cassini. Before Cassini we had no idea didn't know Enceladus even had plumes or an ocean.

edit:
more precise
« Last Edit: 01/07/2016 10:01 PM by hop »

Offline vjkane

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #6 on: 01/07/2016 09:45 PM »
Just for my clarification is that an orbiter that will only visit Enceladus & Titan. If so what will it offer over what we have already obtained science wise from Cassini?
Far, far better instruments.
...and they would be specifically targeted based on what we've learned from Cassini. Before Cassini we had no idea Enceladus even had plumes or an ocean.
There were some pretty good hints on vents based on Enceladus' brightness, the E ring, and I believe on some of the coatings on other moons.

Offline Star One

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New Frontiers 4
« Reply #7 on: 01/07/2016 10:15 PM »
Just for my clarification is that an orbiter that will only visit Enceladus & Titan. If so what will it offer over what we have already obtained science wise from Cassini?
Far, far better instruments.

Would they include the capacity to sample plumes?
« Last Edit: 01/07/2016 10:17 PM by Star One »

Offline vjkane

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #8 on: 01/08/2016 01:00 AM »
Would they include the capacity to sample plumes?
I'll write a blog post next week on what a mission might look like based on past studies and Discovery proposals.  One Discovery proposal, Journey to Enceladus and Titan, would have carried a volatile-optimized modern mass spectrometer to make far more sensitive composition measurements of Enceladus's plumes and Titan's outer atmosphere.  It would also have carried a thermal imager to map the surface of Titan in much higher resolution than Cassini has as well as the tiger stripes on Enceladus.

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

The availability of three MMRTGs is crucial for missions to these moons.  The primary use of power on planetary mission is to either heat the spacecraft (half of Juno's watts go to this) and to power the transmitter to return data.  Three MMRTGs would allow significant data return.

Offline vjkane

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #9 on: 01/08/2016 02:29 AM »
Except that Discovery proposals are open-ended. The proposer is not trying to design a mission to answer a given set of scientific questions, they are choosing the questions themselves. Just because somebody has proposed a Discovery mission to one of these bodies in the past does not mean that their scientific goals are ones that the rest of the scientific community believes are worthwhile.
NASA's statement said they would provide more guidance in the AO on the science they are seeking.  Per the statement:

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

Online redliox

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #10 on: 01/08/2016 04:57 AM »
I'd say of the bunch, I'm the most interested in the Lunar, Ocean, and Trojan missions.  Of course it is probably far too soon to play favorites just yet until we hear the official release on what all these missions would do.
"Let the trails lead where they may, I will follow."
-Tigatron

Offline GClark

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #11 on: 01/08/2016 06:17 AM »
It's worth noting that the Lunar South Pole-Aitken Basin Sample Return and Venus In-Situ Explorer missions were finalists for NF3.  The feedback they received then will make any proposal from the same people this time stronger.

Remember what the Juno team had to do & how many times OSIRIS-REX was iterated before they were selected.  Titan and Enceladus have a lot of 'wow' factor, but any mission proposal is going to have to be really solid to get chosen their first time out.

Offline NovaSilisko

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #12 on: 01/08/2016 06:37 AM »
I'd be pretty enthusiastic about any of those... except the Saturn Probe. Seven years of travel for 55 minutes of data collection, taking up an entire New Frontiers slot doesn't seem like a very good trade. Granted we've never explored Saturn's atmosphere, but it seems like the sort of thing that ought to be piggybacked on another mission rather than butting out all the other missions on this list which look to me to have a much higher overall volume of science return than the probe.

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

I'd like to find out more about it... I feel like I'm missing something about it that makes it more compelling science-wise than I realize.

Offline Star One

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #13 on: 01/08/2016 08:37 AM »

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

And that is the billion dollar question.

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

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

I see what you mean. At first thought I'd opt for something like a Titan boat dropped off by an Enceladus orbiter. Planetary protection wise it's probably easier & cheaper to put something on the surface of Titan than it would be Enceladus.

Online redliox

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #14 on: 01/08/2016 10:26 AM »
As far as the missions for the Saturn system, something like a dual-probe arrangement with a Saturn probe and a Titan balloon/lander could be interesting.  The Saturn probe would be short-term (yet legitimately valuable mission) while the Titan probe (in whatever form it could take) would be a long-term arrangement.  The only disadvantage with both is they'd need to communicate directly with Earth - difficult but not impossible.  I don't see the Saturn probe flying that whole distance by itself (as a mission), simply because the Saturnian system is too valuable to reduce to a mere hour-long expedition.
"Let the trails lead where they may, I will follow."
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Offline vjkane

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #15 on: 01/08/2016 10:39 AM »
I see what you mean. At first thought I'd opt for something like a Titan boat dropped off by an Enceladus orbiter. Planetary protection wise it's probably easier & cheaper to put something on the surface of Titan than it would be Enceladus.

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

As Blackstar points out, the option space for the ocean worlds call currently is very large.  I strongly suspect that NASA's managers know this and that they'll narrow down the option space considerably in the AO.  They may not have done this already because they may be consulting with the outer planet scientific community to identify the highest priority goals.  We will probably learn more from the OPAG meeting next month.

Offline vjkane

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #16 on: 01/08/2016 10:45 AM »
As far as the missions for the Saturn system, something like a dual-probe arrangement with a Saturn probe and a Titan balloon/lander could be interesting.  The Saturn probe would be short-term (yet legitimately valuable mission) while the Titan probe (in whatever form it could take) would be a long-term arrangement.  The only disadvantage with both is they'd need to communicate directly with Earth - difficult but not impossible.  I don't see the Saturn probe flying that whole distance by itself (as a mission), simply because the Saturnian system is too valuable to reduce to a mere hour-long expedition.
Best estimate for a Titan balloon without a lander was from the $1B box studies last decade.  As I recall, the price tag then was around $1.5B, which is 50% greater than the New Frontiers cap.

If NASA goes with a Saturn orbiter moon multiflyby approach, it would be nice to have the equivalent of the Electra Mars relay package on the spacecraft so that it could serve as a relay for future missions.

Offline vjkane

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #17 on: 01/08/2016 10:50 AM »
It's worth noting that the Lunar South Pole-Aitken Basin Sample Return and Venus In-Situ Explorer missions were finalists for NF3.  The feedback they received then will make any proposal from the same people this time stronger.

Remember what the Juno team had to do & how many times OSIRIS-REX was iterated before they were selected.  Titan and Enceladus have a lot of 'wow' factor, but any mission proposal is going to have to be really solid to get chosen their first time out.
There have been numerous studies of Titan/Enceladus missions (some very detailed) as well as three Discovery proposals (JET, TiME, LIFE).  A team proposing a Titan/Enceladus mission isn't starting from a clean slate.  I also suspect that based on this heritage (especially the details of the Discovery proposals) that NASA's managers have a pretty good idea of what may be feasible in a New Frontiers mission.

Offline vjkane

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #18 on: 01/08/2016 10:52 AM »
At the AGU conference in December, I chatted with Jim Bell about the Trojan mission his team plans to propose (and he said that this information could be shared).  They are looking at a mission that would orbit at least one asteroid and flyby several more to study the heterogeneity of these objects.

Offline Star One

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #19 on: 01/08/2016 11:20 AM »
Didn't studies for TiME indicate that you could get a relatively 'simple' boat craft to last comparatively a long time on the lakes of Titan, well at least in theory?

Offline vjkane

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #20 on: 01/08/2016 11:55 AM »
Didn't studies for TiME indicate that you could get a relatively 'simple' boat craft to last comparatively a long time on the lakes of Titan, well at least in theory?
In theory, we could imagine merging the TiME proposal for a Titan lake lander with either the JET or LIFE multiflyby spacecraft.  Both were proposed for Discovery missions with a cost cap of $450M (PI costs) versus the $850M PI cost cap for the next New Frontiers mission.  If merged, there could be some shared costs, so the idea might fly.

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

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

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

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

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

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


Offline Star One

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #21 on: 01/08/2016 01:27 PM »

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It sounds like a multiple flyby craft of both Titan & Enceladus is our best bet. It's so frustrating that we can't get a follow up lander mission to Titan. From what you're saying such a mission would end up in the flagship class.

Offline notsorandom

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #22 on: 01/08/2016 02:11 PM »
As far as the missions for the Saturn system, something like a dual-probe arrangement with a Saturn probe and a Titan balloon/lander could be interesting.  The Saturn probe would be short-term (yet legitimately valuable mission) while the Titan probe (in whatever form it could take) would be a long-term arrangement.  The only disadvantage with both is they'd need to communicate directly with Earth - difficult but not impossible.  I don't see the Saturn probe flying that whole distance by itself (as a mission), simply because the Saturnian system is too valuable to reduce to a mere hour-long expedition.
One of the constraints I remember from TiME proposal was data return rate and total data return because it had to communicate directly back with Earth. An atmosphere probe for Saturn would have to return all its data before it was destroyed. Depending on the amount of data a relay could be desirable or necessary. Also the Galileo atmospheric probe used the Galileo spacecraft as a relay. Some sort of cruise bus would be needed for the probe too. If some sort of cruise/relay spacecraft were needed then one could imagine that spacecraft being given an instrument suite and tasked with doing some additional science in the Saturn system. One would have to avoid mission creep and adding too much otherwise the budget would be blown out.

Offline baldusi

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #23 on: 01/08/2016 05:25 PM »
Well, you could separate the cruise bus as a relay and let it go into a fly by. The probe would only have to transmit to the bus and then it could keep transmitting and re transmitting at leisure.

Offline Star One

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New Frontiers 4
« Reply #24 on: 01/08/2016 07:28 PM »
And here we have the first article on this.

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

Could this end up on a SLS if the Titan/Enceladus mission is the one picked as launch costs are outside of the budget cap?
« Last Edit: 01/08/2016 07:37 PM by Star One »

Offline as58

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #25 on: 01/08/2016 08:52 PM »
Could this end up on a SLS if the Titan/Enceladus mission is the one picked as launch costs are outside of the budget cap?

The announcement in the first post in this thread tells:

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

It's hard to imagine that SLS would qualify as "standard launch performance capability" but who knows, I wasn't expecting any late additions to the list of eligible missions in the first place.

Offline spacetraveler

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #26 on: 01/08/2016 09:15 PM »
What would be the scientific benefit of lunar sample return over the moon rocks we already have?

Offline NovaSilisko

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #27 on: 01/08/2016 09:27 PM »
What would be the scientific benefit of lunar sample return over the moon rocks we already have?

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

*unless China pulls a fast one
« Last Edit: 01/08/2016 09:31 PM by NovaSilisko »

Offline as58

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #28 on: 01/08/2016 09:37 PM »
What would be the scientific benefit of lunar sample return over the moon rocks we already have?

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

A short excerpt:

Quote
South Pole-Aitken Basin Sample Return

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Offline Star One

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #29 on: 01/08/2016 11:06 PM »

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

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

*unless China pulls a fast one

If China does achieve this first I wonder if this project might get sidelined.

Offline Ben the Space Brit

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #30 on: 01/09/2016 03:12 PM »
Assuming that the mission is decided on fairly soon, what sort of time-frame are we looking for the probe to be constructed and be ready for launch, based on previous NH-class missions?
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Offline vjkane

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #31 on: 01/10/2016 04:22 AM »
Assuming that the mission is decided on fairly soon, what sort of time-frame are we looking for the probe to be constructed and be ready for launch, based on previous NH-class missions?
2014 for a solar powered mission, 2025 for an MMRTG powered mission

Offline baldusi

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #32 on: 01/10/2016 09:14 AM »


2014 for a solar powered mission, 2025 for an MMRTG powered mission
The advances in solar power apparently have enabled time travel

Offline vjkane

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #33 on: 01/10/2016 02:39 PM »
2014 for a solar powered mission, 2025 for an MMRTG powered mission
The advances in solar power apparently have enabled time travel
Yeah, a little known NASA breakthrough.  Next mission, ancient Mars to study those oceans.  :)

The time frame for the solicitation is intended to be:

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

But later, the statement reads:

"...the usage of MMRTG(s)
requires delaying the LRD by at least one year to no earlier than 2025
to allow for mission-specific funding to support provision of MMRTGs."

Offline Ben the Space Brit

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #34 on: 01/10/2016 03:36 PM »
Purely FWIW, an LRD of the mid-2020s would make a heavyweight or long-haul spacecraft a possible candidate for an SLS launch.
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Offline Star One

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #35 on: 01/10/2016 05:39 PM »

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

I already suggested that up thread but the suggestion got rather shot down.

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #36 on: 01/23/2016 09:33 PM »
While not part of this round of NF, in light of the fact it's the 30th Anniversary of Voyager's Uranus encounter I wanted to mention Uranus as a future target.  NF is probably the most likely slot for such a mission since Mars and Europa occupy the flagship niche, and Mars will probably tightly hold that area with MSR and eventually engineering tests for HSF.
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Offline Blackstar

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #37 on: 01/23/2016 10:31 PM »
While not part of this round of NF, in light of the fact it's the 30th Anniversary of Voyager's Uranus encounter I wanted to mention Uranus as a future target.  NF is probably the most likely slot for such a mission since Mars and Europa occupy the flagship niche, and Mars will probably tightly hold that area with MSR and eventually engineering tests for HSF.

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

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #38 on: 01/23/2016 10:40 PM »
While not part of this round of NF, in light of the fact it's the 30th Anniversary of Voyager's Uranus encounter I wanted to mention Uranus as a future target.  NF is probably the most likely slot for such a mission since Mars and Europa occupy the flagship niche, and Mars will probably tightly hold that area with MSR and eventually engineering tests for HSF.

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

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

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #39 on: 01/23/2016 11:37 PM »
Another thought (although probably should put it in the Ice Giant thread) since you mention budget: partnership with ESA.  They have a good interest in Uranus too but lack a budget as well.  Given the success of Cassini/Huygens, perhaps collaborating with them would help constrain expenses while maximizing science.  How do you think that situation would affect budget specifically?

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

Offline Ben the Space Brit

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #40 on: 01/25/2016 11:27 AM »
Let's talk about mid-outer solar system targets, specifically the ice giants and the KBOs. Assuming a launch date in the mid-2020s, what sort of planetary alignments would we have for favourable multi-target flybys, even if the mission is ultimately intended to be an ice giant orbiter?

I'm thinking of an Orbiter simulation I saw on YouTube of a flyby of Saturn and Uranus on the way to Eris.
« Last Edit: 01/25/2016 11:27 AM by Ben the Space Brit »
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Offline Blackstar

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #41 on: 01/25/2016 12:28 PM »
Let's talk about mid-outer solar system targets, specifically the ice giants and the KBOs.


Not a subject for New Frontiers 4.

Offline Star One

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New Frontiers 4
« Reply #42 on: 01/25/2016 11:18 PM »
Another thought (although probably should put it in the Ice Giant thread) since you mention budget: partnership with ESA.  They have a good interest in Uranus too but lack a budget as well.  Given the success of Cassini/Huygens, perhaps collaborating with them would help constrain expenses while maximizing science.  How do you think that situation would affect budget specifically?

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

And it will probably be Neptune & not Uranus as I believe by then Neptune will be the more favourable of the two to reach from Earth.
« Last Edit: 01/25/2016 11:18 PM by Star One »

Offline ccdengr

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #43 on: 01/26/2016 06:02 AM »
You cannot do a meaningful, scientifically worthwhile ice giants mission on a New Frontiers budget. It has to be flagship-class.
Citation needed.  In your opinion?  Per some Aerospace Corp cost model?  Seems like a very definitive statement for something that has so many variables in reality.

Offline vjkane

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #44 on: 01/26/2016 10:52 AM »
If a SEP stage is used, then Uranus probably would be reachable

Offline vjkane

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #45 on: 01/26/2016 11:02 AM »
I don't know of any study of an orbiter that isn't flagship class. A flyby mission might be done within a NF budget, but the Decadal survey explicitly concluded that the science return wouldn't be worth the cost. An atmospheric probe would just add to the cost for the orbiter even if the probe were supplied by a foreign agency

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

I have heard from several scientist and mission architects that they believe the Decadal Enceladus mission estimates were pulled too high as an example. But I don't think we will get a compelling ice giant mission in a new frontiers budget

Offline ccdengr

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #46 on: 01/26/2016 03:36 PM »
I don't know of any study of an orbiter that isn't flagship class.
IMHO, the system is caught in a feedback loop where no one dares to suggest lower-cost missions because the cost models don't "validate" them.  If a hard cost cap was imposed, and sensible cost-benefit trades were made in a capability-driven way instead of the usual Parkinson's Law/everything but the kitchen sink approach, who knows what might be possible?

Offline baldusi

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #47 on: 01/26/2016 03:49 PM »
I don't know of any study of an orbiter that isn't flagship class.
IMHO, the system is caught in a feedback loop where no one dares to suggest lower-cost missions because the cost models don't "validate" them.  If a hard cost cap was imposed, and sensible cost-benefit trades were made in a capability-driven way instead of the usual Parkinson's Law/everything but the kitchen sink approach, who knows what might be possible?
What a great idea! Now the hundreds of investigators and engineers have found their solution to enter the much easier New Frontiers and Discovery classes. How silly have all the professionals in the field been that they only bid on the most difficult mission class because they didn't thought of "design to cost".

Offline Blackstar

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #48 on: 01/26/2016 05:04 PM »
You cannot do a meaningful, scientifically worthwhile ice giants mission on a New Frontiers budget. It has to be flagship-class.
Citation needed.  In your opinion?  Per some Aerospace Corp cost model?  Seems like a very definitive statement for something that has so many variables in reality.


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

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




Offline vjkane

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #49 on: 01/26/2016 05:04 PM »
Sarcasm aside, I believe that the problem comes up in fairly brief assessments such as those in the Decadal survey where there isn't time to do lots of trade off studies. For example subsequent Uranus studies found issues with the design assumptions in the survey's Uranus probe.

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

No one I've talked to believes that a Uranus orbiter can be done for less than a flagship cost.  Now there are studies to see if the costs can be dropped from around $3b to $2b

Offline mkent

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #50 on: 01/26/2016 11:49 PM »
All of this discussion is moot.  The possible targets for New Frontiers 4 were laid out in the announcement of the Announcement of Opportunity:

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

The first five were dictated by the Decadal Survey; the last one was added by Congress.  No other missions will be considered for New Frontiers 4, so proposing a Uranus or Neptune orbiter is a waste of time.

Offline simonbp

Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #51 on: 01/27/2016 08:46 PM »
At the AGU conference in December, I chatted with Jim Bell about the Trojan mission his team plans to propose (and he said that this information could be shared).  They are looking at a mission that would orbit at least one asteroid and flyby several more to study the heterogeneity of these objects.

Yeah, it's kind of Lucy on Steroids. But that also means that it only has a chance if Lucy (with is just a multiple flyby mission) does not win Discovery.

Offline vjkane

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #52 on: 03/02/2016 09:36 PM »
There is an Ocean Worlds hearing on Capitol Hill on Thursday.
Starts at 10:30 Eastern

You can watch it at

http://appropriations.house.gov/calendar/eventsingle.aspx?EventID=394422

Offline Blackstar

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #53 on: 03/05/2016 09:29 PM »

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #54 on: 03/05/2016 10:43 PM »
Very informative synopsis Blackstar.  It sounds like they're getting a solid plan on schedule, and the plan seems to be the flyby orbiter with a short-term lander launching separately.  Culbertson is surprisingly intelligent for the average politician, and I only wish his polite exchange of conversation with the scientists could be the norm of Congress and the (U.S. at least) government in general.  A very good read.
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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #55 on: 03/05/2016 11:14 PM »
I fear that by including a lander the project will easily go over budget and be subject to tons of delays. By splitting them up hopefully at the very least the flyby will be saved, and at best we'll have a lander too
« Last Edit: 03/06/2016 04:27 PM by Graham »
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Offline Blackstar

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #56 on: 03/06/2016 10:54 PM »
Very informative synopsis Blackstar.  It sounds like they're getting a solid plan on schedule, and the plan seems to be the flyby orbiter with a short-term lander launching separately.  Culbertson is surprisingly intelligent for the average politician, and I only wish his polite exchange of conversation with the scientists could be the norm of Congress and the (U.S. at least) government in general.  A very good read.

I did not write it.

And I'd note that there's a separate thread for Europa discussions. I included that here because of the connection to New Frontiers 4.

Offline Star One

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #57 on: 06/29/2016 08:37 PM »
Jeff Foust ‏@jeff_foust
Green: draft Announcement of Opportunity for next New Frontiers mission due out this summer; final AO in January 2017. #SBAG

Offline hop

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #58 on: 08/10/2016 02:51 AM »
New Frontiers 4 draft AO
https://nspires.nasaprs.com/external/viewrepositorydocument/cmdocumentid=529393/solicitationId=%7BCC7546D5-3DBD-E646-19F6-45CE5BFC0738%7D/viewSolicitationDocument=1/NF4%20Draft_release8-9-16.pdf

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

ANNOUNCEMENT OF OPPORTUNITY
NEW FRONTIERS PROGRAM
NNH16ZDA008J

FOREWORD

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

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

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

Offline hop

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #59 on: 12/09/2016 08:48 PM »
« Last Edit: 12/09/2016 09:21 PM by hop »

Offline Star One

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New Frontiers 4
« Reply #60 on: 12/09/2016 09:15 PM »
Officially announced.

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

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

With Titan I wouldn't mind seeing something developed off of Titan Mare Explorer. Especially as it seems a better fit for New Frontiers.
« Last Edit: 12/09/2016 09:16 PM by Star One »

Offline russianhalo117

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #61 on: 12/09/2016 09:45 PM »
NF-4 technology TRL presentations drop: https://newfrontiers.larc.nasa.gov/technology_workshop_agenda.html

Some presentations are currently not available so if anyone has contacts with LaRC please let them know that some links are broken or missing (FOIA request might be required).
« Last Edit: 12/10/2016 05:09 PM by russianhalo117 »

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #62 on: 12/10/2016 12:08 AM »
Officially announced.

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

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

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

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

Hard to say which of these I'd favor.  If Lucy isn't picked for Discovery naturally I'd like to see a Trojan mission come out of this, but barring my interest in finding out what Trojans really are I think I'm equally split between the Lunar South Pole and Venus.  Reason: both are nearby but difficult targets, offer direct merit to Earth's evolution, and neither body has been studied from the surface in quite some time (by an American spacecraft).
"Let the trails lead where they may, I will follow."
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Offline Blackstar

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #63 on: 12/10/2016 05:47 AM »
NF-4 presentations drop:


To be precise, these are presentations on technology development. They are not presentations to NF-4.

Offline JH

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #64 on: 12/10/2016 07:35 AM »
NF-4 presentations drop: https://newfrontiers.larc.nasa.gov/technology_workshop_agenda.html

That thermoacoustic power converter (TAPC) is downright sexy. (presentation 13)

Online redliox

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #65 on: 01/05/2017 02:40 PM »
NASA apparently responded to commentary about the upcoming NF draf: https://newfrontiers.larc.nasa.gov/PDF_FILES/NASA-response-to-comments.pdf

Most it is dry material, but things like foreign instrument contribution and sample return requirements are brought up with a direct NASA retort given.
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Online redliox

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #66 on: 01/05/2017 03:22 PM »
Well now that the Discovery selection is done the focus may slowly turn toward New Frontiers especially since two targets may be revised in the roster: Trojans and Venus.  The former was selected over the later.

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

Luna (South Pole)
Venus
Comets
Saturn
Titan
Enceladus

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

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Offline yg1968

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #67 on: 05/06/2017 03:06 PM »
Quote from: NASA Press Release
NASA has received and is reviewing 12 proposals for future unmanned solar system exploration. The proposed missions of discovery – submitted under NASA’s New Frontiers program – will undergo scientific and technical review over the next seven months. The goal is to select a mission for flight in about two years, with launch in the mid-2020s.

https://www.nasa.gov/feature/nasa-receives-proposals-for-future-solar-system-mission

Offline Phil Stooke

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #68 on: 05/06/2017 03:23 PM »
redliox: "So, in one form or another, we'll presumably be seeing missions targeting:

Luna (South Pole)"

Just to clarify, it's the South Pole-Aitken basin, not the south pole.  The SPA basin extends from the south pole to the large crater Aitken at about 20 degrees south and takes its informal name from those features.  The actual sampling site is in the middle of the basin at about 60 degrees south. 

Online redliox

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #69 on: 05/06/2017 09:28 PM »
Just to clarify, it's the South Pole-Aitken basin, not the south pole.  The SPA basin extends from the south pole to the large crater Aitken at about 20 degrees south and takes its informal name from those features.  The actual sampling site is in the middle of the basin at about 60 degrees south.

What's known about the mission and the site?  The big significance regarding the SPAB I'm aware of is it being deep enough to nearly touch the lunar mantle and, in select spots of course, ice.  I'd like to see what's in mind.
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Offline Blackstar

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #70 on: 05/07/2017 12:53 AM »
What's known about the mission and the site?  The big significance regarding the SPAB I'm aware of is it being deep enough to nearly touch the lunar mantle and, in select spots of course, ice.  I'd like to see what's in mind.

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

Offline Blackstar

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #71 on: 05/07/2017 12:58 AM »
Well now that the Discovery selection is done the focus may slowly turn toward New Frontiers especially since two targets may be revised in the roster: Trojans and Venus.  The former was selected over the later.

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

Luna (South Pole)
Venus
Comets
Saturn
Titan
Enceladus

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

I know of the existence of the following:

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

Of course, there are several more, but I don't know about them.

Offline Phil Stooke

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #72 on: 05/07/2017 01:14 AM »
"What's known about the mission and the site? "

This was from LPSC in March:

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

It hasn't changed much in 5 years of planning.  The goal is to sample the impact melt sheet from the SPA impact.  The most important single science goal is to date the impact.  I think it is considered less likely these days  that mantle material will be found.

Offline Archibald

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #73 on: 05/07/2017 09:01 AM »
What's known about the mission and the site?  The big significance regarding the SPAB I'm aware of is it being deep enough to nearly touch the lunar mantle and, in select spots of course, ice.  I'd like to see what's in mind.

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

One of the most unfortunate lunar mission proposal in recent history: while technically sound and interesting, over the last 15 years it has lost competition again and again. 
« Last Edit: 05/07/2017 09:01 AM by Archibald »

Offline Blackstar

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #74 on: 05/07/2017 12:06 PM »
One of the most unfortunate lunar mission proposal in recent history: while technically sound and interesting, over the last 15 years it has lost competition again and again. 

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

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

Although there are a lot of interesting NF mission options, I am partial to MoonRise and the South Pole Aitken Basin sample return mission. It would really answer a fundamental question in Earth-Moon science. If NASA doesn't do it, then I hope the Chinese do.
« Last Edit: 05/07/2017 12:07 PM by Blackstar »

Offline vjkane

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #75 on: 05/08/2017 07:32 PM »
I did a tally on possible New Frontiers proposals based on comments here and what I've seen elsewhere.

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

Offline Blackstar

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #76 on: 05/08/2017 07:49 PM »
I did a tally on possible New Frontiers proposals based on comments here and what I've seen elsewhere.

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


Can you remind me what SPRITE is?

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


Offline vjkane

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #77 on: 05/08/2017 07:54 PM »

Can you remind me what SPRITE is?

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

SPRITE - Saturn Probe Interior and aTmosphere Explorer

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

Offline Blackstar

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #78 on: 05/08/2017 10:56 PM »

Can you remind me what SPRITE is?

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

SPRITE - Saturn Probe Interior and aTmosphere Explorer

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

Gotcha. I suspect I know some of the people involved in two of the groups.

Offline Star One

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #79 on: 06/01/2017 03:07 PM »
In light of the Venus proposal this seems applicable here.

Mystery of rare volcanoes on Venus

https://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/news/archive/2017/title,1332305,en.php

Offline vjkane

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #80 on: 08/05/2017 02:17 PM »
I just published a piece on my blog describing nine of the twelve New Frontiers 4 proposals.  (For two others we know only the destination, and one remains a mystery.)

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

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

Lunar South Pole-Aitken Basin Sample Return
•   Moonrise

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

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

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

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



Offline JH

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #81 on: 08/05/2017 06:31 PM »
Well, the reviews should be in, as the panel ended yesterday.

Offline Star One

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New Frontiers 4
« Reply #82 on: 08/05/2017 08:36 PM »
The problem I have with Moonrise is it's just doubling up what the Chinese are going to do. The Nature article that was very recently posted on here about Chinese space science talked about where the US doubles up on stuff the Chinese are doing anyway because of US politics and this seems a perfect example of this.
« Last Edit: 08/05/2017 08:39 PM by Star One »

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #83 on: 08/05/2017 10:57 PM »
The problem I have with Moonrise is it's just doubling up what the Chinese are going to do. The Nature article that was very recently posted on here about Chinese space science talked about where the US doubles up on stuff the Chinese are doing anyway because of US politics and this seems a perfect example of this.

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

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

Offline Star One

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New Frontiers 4
« Reply #84 on: 08/05/2017 11:05 PM »
The problem I have with Moonrise is it's just doubling up what the Chinese are going to do. The Nature article that was very recently posted on here about Chinese space science talked about where the US doubles up on stuff the Chinese are doing anyway because of US politics and this seems a perfect example of this.

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

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

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

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

You talk of China's aims as being unknowable but how much is that is due to China and how much is that due to the US restricting itself from cooperation unlike ESA?
« Last Edit: 08/05/2017 11:14 PM by Star One »

Offline Phil Stooke

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #85 on: 08/05/2017 11:11 PM »
OK, Moonrise is focused on a very specific geological target, the melt sheet of the SPS basin, which should give an unambiguous age for the impact, widely recognized as one of the key measurements required for understanding lunar impact history.  There is no guarantee at all that Chang'E 6 will sample that specific material - or even that it will succeed.  It might sample farside mare basalt, a worthy goal in itself.  It might end up in the Marianas Trench.  If you want to do something you need to do it yourself, as has already been stated.

Offline Star One

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New Frontiers 4
« Reply #86 on: 08/05/2017 11:16 PM »
OK, Moonrise is focused on a very specific geological target, the melt sheet of the SPS basin, which should give an unambiguous age for the impact, widely recognized as one of the key measurements required for understanding lunar impact history.  There is no guarantee at all that Chang'E 6 will sample that specific material - or even that it will succeed.  It might sample farside mare basalt, a worthy goal in itself.  It might end up in the Marianas Trench.  If you want to do something you need to do it yourself, as has already been stated.

It could be argued by some that a lot of this is because the US will not even talk to China in space matters so you don't know what they are or aren't doing, at least ESA talks to them. Something that self same Nature article I mentioned up thread covered.
« Last Edit: 08/05/2017 11:20 PM by Star One »

Offline Alpha_Centauri

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #87 on: 08/05/2017 11:19 PM »
Could the unknown one be BRINE (Biological Resource Investigation of Enceladus) that Chris McKay was working on?  It's a plume flyby.  I see there was a contract out at the start of this year to support this proposal with the same company as did work for ELSAH (Enceladus Life Signatures and Habitability).

ELSAH is apparently also a plume flyby mission (separate to BRINE?), no idea how it differs from ELF.
« Last Edit: 08/06/2017 12:40 AM by Alpha_Centauri »

Offline zubenelgenubi

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #88 on: 08/06/2017 01:23 AM »
The problem I have with Moonrise is it's just doubling up what the Chinese are going to do. The Nature article that was very recently posted on here about Chinese space science talked about where the US doubles up on stuff the Chinese are doing anyway because of US politics and this seems a perfect example of this.

re: Nature article.  Was it this July 26, 2017 article?  China’s quest to become a space science superpower

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You chose not to address Point 1.

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

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

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

You chose not to address Point 4.

My opinion, in the form of an American ruralism:  You are barking up the wrong tree.
« Last Edit: 08/06/2017 02:02 AM by zubenelgenubi »
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Offline Star One

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New Frontiers 4
« Reply #89 on: 08/06/2017 08:11 AM »
The problem I have with Moonrise is it's just doubling up what the Chinese are going to do. The Nature article that was very recently posted on here about Chinese space science talked about where the US doubles up on stuff the Chinese are doing anyway because of US politics and this seems a perfect example of this.

re: Nature article.  Was it this July 26, 2017 article?  China’s quest to become a space science superpower

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You chose not to address Point 1.

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

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

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

You chose not to address Point 4.

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

Nice that you make the assumption I am American, for your information I am not. I am from the UK and at no point do you seem to have answered the question which is that ESA are able to work with the Chinese and the US isn't and the only difference is politics.
« Last Edit: 08/06/2017 08:13 AM by Star One »

Online redliox

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #90 on: 08/07/2017 04:54 AM »
I hope for either of the Venus missions first, Moonrise second, and the Saturn probe third.  I would be curious to learn what the 2 mysterious missions would be; hard to make any guestimates without knowing what they'd be up to.

As far as the Moonrise and Lunar sample return discussion, it's not about racing the Chinese it's about sampling a unique region of the Moon.  Either Blackstar or Vjkane would back that up.  Ever since Clementine mission back in the mid-1990s took a decent look they realized the SPAB was surprising.
« Last Edit: 08/07/2017 04:54 AM by redliox »
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Offline Star One

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New Frontiers 4
« Reply #91 on: 08/07/2017 07:46 AM »
I hope for either of the Venus missions first, Moonrise second, and the Saturn probe third.  I would be curious to learn what the 2 mysterious missions would be; hard to make any guestimates without knowing what they'd be up to.

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

But why prioritise these over the outer solar system. The results from Cassini strongly call for follow up missions and in light of this I don't understand the seeming bias on here of some against these kind of missions.
« Last Edit: 08/07/2017 07:52 AM by Star One »

Offline mikelepage

Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #92 on: 08/07/2017 02:32 PM »
I hope for either of the Venus missions first, Moonrise second, and the Saturn probe third.  I would be curious to learn what the 2 mysterious missions would be; hard to make any guestimates without knowing what they'd be up to.

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

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

As much as I want to see Venus and Lunar missions, I would also add that outer planet/trojan/comet missions are a better use of the RTGs, which seem to be a fairly limited resource.  Inner solar-system missions can more easily use solar panels, surely.

Offline vjkane

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #93 on: 08/07/2017 04:16 PM »
Only the dragonfly proposal among these nine would use an mmrtg

Offline Lar

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #94 on: 08/07/2017 08:01 PM »
... at no point do you seem to have answered the question which is that ESA are able to work with the Chinese and the US isn't and the only difference is politics.
That question is probably out of scope for this thread. I mean, it's a valid question and all, but not likely that anyone here can solve it. Wish it weren't so. However for American mission planning, it may be best to assume that it is what it is.
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Offline Star One

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #95 on: 08/07/2017 08:14 PM »
... at no point do you seem to have answered the question which is that ESA are able to work with the Chinese and the US isn't and the only difference is politics.
That question is probably out of scope for this thread. I mean, it's a valid question and all, but not likely that anyone here can solve it. Wish it weren't so. However for American mission planning, it may be best to assume that it is what it is.

Is there some genuine reason on why NASA is lumbered with such a hardline stance by the politicians. The explanations I've seen often seem to reflect the stance of the author as much as anything.

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #96 on: 08/07/2017 08:26 PM »
... at no point do you seem to have answered the question which is that ESA are able to work with the Chinese and the US isn't and the only difference is politics.
That question is probably out of scope for this thread. I mean, it's a valid question and all, but not likely that anyone here can solve it. Wish it weren't so. However for American mission planning, it may be best to assume that it is what it is.

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

I'll add a couple of things:

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

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

Offline Lar

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #97 on: 08/07/2017 08:29 PM »
Is there some genuine reason on why NASA is lumbered with such a hardline stance by the politicians. The explanations I've seen often seem to reflect the stance of the author as much as anything.

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

Whether that reason is "genuine" or not? I don't know. But again, a bit out of scope. Even if the discussion were in space policy,  it might be out of scope. Hope that (and Blackstar's EXCELLENT explanation as well)  sorts it and we can get back on topic?
« Last Edit: 08/07/2017 08:30 PM by Lar »
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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #98 on: 08/07/2017 08:31 PM »
... at no point do you seem to have answered the question which is that ESA are able to work with the Chinese and the US isn't and the only difference is politics.
That question is probably out of scope for this thread. I mean, it's a valid question and all, but not likely that anyone here can solve it. Wish it weren't so. However for American mission planning, it may be best to assume that it is what it is.

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

I'll add a couple of things:

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

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

Yes but looking at what you're saying here as a non-American could easily sound like we don't trust other countries they are unreliable and will let you down. I could easily say after ExoMars that ESA should have nothing to do with NASA as they are unreliable and will let you down. But space is supposed to be above this kind of thing but if it isn't then that's a great shame.

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #99 on: 08/07/2017 08:32 PM »
Is there some genuine reason on why NASA is lumbered with such a hardline stance by the politicians. The explanations I've seen often seem to reflect the stance of the author as much as anything.

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

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

Thank you for your response.

Offline Blackstar

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #100 on: 08/07/2017 08:54 PM »
Yes but looking at what you're saying here as a non-American could easily sound like we don't trust other countries they are unreliable and will let you down. I could easily say after ExoMars that ESA should have nothing to do with NASA as they are unreliable and will let you down. But space is supposed to be above this kind of thing but if it isn't then that's a great shame.

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

As I noted, it's a complicated issue. I don't have time or energy to explain it in detail here or in the policy section. And I doubt that I'd change your mind because it already seems pretty made up.

Offline Blackstar

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #101 on: 08/07/2017 09:05 PM »
Whether that reason is "genuine" or not? I don't know. But again, a bit out of scope. Even if the discussion were in space policy,  it might be out of scope.

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

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

I'd also point everybody back to where these science questions are developed. They are developed within the planetary science decadal survey, and the participation in the decadal survey is mostly American scientists. When they come up with a science question, they want to be the ones who answer that question, they want to do the work. They don't want to leave it to somebody else. When you go to a restaurant you order the food that you want to eat, not order food so other people can eat it for you.

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #102 on: 08/07/2017 09:07 PM »
And a lot of US instruments fly on other agencies' spacecraft.  It is a good system but it does add management complexity for the senior agency whoever it is

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

Offline Star One

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New Frontiers 4
« Reply #103 on: 08/07/2017 09:10 PM »
And a lot of US instruments fly on other agencies' spacecraft.  It is a good system but it does add management complexity for the senior agency whoever it is

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

That's alright then let's not progress and use space as a best example to present to the upcoming generations but just replicate the same old divisions. I guess I am just naive in thinking space exploration could be the one area where we try and set a better example because clearly this is pointless.
« Last Edit: 08/07/2017 09:13 PM by Star One »

Offline Sam Ho

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #104 on: 08/07/2017 09:23 PM »
To try to keep this on topic, the NF4 AO specified that international contributions should be no more than one-third.  There are separate one-third limits for instruments and for PMMC.

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

One could recount the list of projects that lost international partners midstream (Ulysses, LISA, ExoMars) but that's neither here nor there.

Offline Jim

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #105 on: 08/07/2017 10:24 PM »
And a lot of US instruments fly on other agencies' spacecraft.  It is a good system but it does add management complexity for the senior agency whoever it is

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

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

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

Offline Lar

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #106 on: 08/08/2017 04:08 AM »
Blackstar, you convinced me, a carefully crafted starter post could very well spur a good, productive, and on topic discussion of this in Space Policy.

No one is required to create a thread just bacuse someone else thinks it's a good idea, but I can't think of anyone that would do a better job than you, so please consider it if you have time and interest.  Everyone else, this ISN'T space policy, please stay out of policy and stick to science. You all know better. Thanks.
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Offline Star One

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #107 on: 08/08/2017 09:39 AM »
And a lot of US instruments fly on other agencies' spacecraft.  It is a good system but it does add management complexity for the senior agency whoever it is

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

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

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

Because it should be.

Offline Ben the Space Brit

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #108 on: 08/08/2017 10:54 AM »
Why does space have to be different than the real world?

Because it should be.

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

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #109 on: 08/08/2017 11:29 AM »
Why does space have to be different than the real world?

Because it should be.

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

Are you effectively suggesting only commercial space can rise above politics?

Offline Ben the Space Brit

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #110 on: 08/08/2017 12:41 PM »
No, I'm saying that only non-governmental space will be able to rise above politics. Even commercial providers will at least at first have to obey the diktats of the government in whose territory they operate. The only way to circumvent governmental interference is to have a privately-commissioned spacecraft and funded from non-government-controlled sources.

FWIW, that's still a decade off at the very least but, with the advent of 'crowd funding' is at least conceptually possible.
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Offline Star One

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New Frontiers 4
« Reply #111 on: 08/08/2017 02:10 PM »
I think now's the time to get back to discussing New Frontiers 4, huh?

There's nothing too discuss at this time.
« Last Edit: 08/08/2017 02:11 PM by Star One »

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #112 on: 08/08/2017 02:18 PM »
And a lot of US instruments fly on other agencies' spacecraft.  It is a good system but it does add management complexity for the senior agency whoever it is

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

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

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

Because it should be.

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

Offline Star One

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #113 on: 08/08/2017 02:26 PM »
And a lot of US instruments fly on other agencies' spacecraft.  It is a good system but it does add management complexity for the senior agency whoever it is

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

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

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

Because it should be.

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

Well perhaps we should strive not too.

Offline gongora

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #114 on: 08/08/2017 02:44 PM »
I think now's the time to get back to discussing New Frontiers 4, huh?

There's nothing too discuss at this time.

That's not an excuse to turn this into your personal space policy thread.
« Last Edit: 08/08/2017 02:56 PM by gongora »

Offline as58

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #115 on: 08/08/2017 03:04 PM »
So to get back to NF4: any updates on schedule? The tentative timeline from AO says that Step-1 selection is expected in November. Is that still the plan?

Offline Zed_Noir

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #116 on: 08/08/2017 10:52 PM »
So does folks think TPTB at NASA for NF4 will pick the mission with the least cost & complexity or some X-mas tree mission with lots add-on ornaments bleeding edge tech?

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #117 on: 08/08/2017 11:40 PM »
So does folks think TPTB at NASA for NF4 will pick the mission with the least cost & complexity or some X-mas tree mission with lots add-on ornaments bleeding edge tech?

Considering that the Planetary budget is likely to get strained by the Europa missions, I see them going conservative on NF4. Discovery and New Frontiers anyway came out as a rejection of the Christmas tree approach, none of the three so far have seen overloading on instruments. Leave that to flagships.

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #118 on: 08/09/2017 12:09 AM »
Considering that the Planetary budget is likely to get strained by the Europa missions, I see them going conservative on NF4. Discovery and New Frontiers anyway came out as a rejection of the Christmas tree approach, none of the three so far have seen overloading on instruments. Leave that to flagships.

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

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

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


Offline Star One

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #119 on: 08/10/2017 08:33 PM »
I think now's the time to get back to discussing New Frontiers 4, huh?

There's nothing too discuss at this time.

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

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

https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=39263.msg1710831#msg1710831

Offline JH

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #120 on: 08/10/2017 08:54 PM »
I just published a piece on my blog describing nine of the twelve New Frontiers 4 proposals.  (For two others we know only the destination, and one remains a mystery.)

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

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

Lunar South Pole-Aitken Basin Sample Return
•   Moonrise

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

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

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

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

The final one is a third Venus proposal.

Offline Blackstar

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #121 on: 08/15/2017 03:21 PM »
Briefly:
Venus In Situ Explorer
•   Venus In situ Composition Investigations (VICI)
•   Venus In Situ Atmospheric and Geochemical Explorer (VISAGE)

Lunar South Pole-Aitken Basin Sample Return
•   Moonrise

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

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

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

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


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


Offline whitelancer64

Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #122 on: 08/15/2017 03:50 PM »
Briefly:
Venus In Situ Explorer
•   Venus In situ Composition Investigations (VICI)
•   Venus In Situ Atmospheric and Geochemical Explorer (VISAGE)

Lunar South Pole-Aitken Basin Sample Return
•   Moonrise

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

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

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

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


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

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

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #123 on: 08/15/2017 03:57 PM »
Briefly:
Venus In Situ Explorer
•Venus In situ Composition Investigations (VICI)
•Venus In Situ Atmospheric and Geochemical Explorer (VISAGE)

Lunar South Pole-Aitken Basin Sample Return
•Moonrise

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

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

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

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


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

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

Wouldn't the Titan orbiter need one, or even the lander mission?

Offline vjkane

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #124 on: 08/15/2017 04:35 PM »
Briefly:
Venus In Situ Explorer
•   Venus In situ Composition Investigations (VICI)
•   Venus In Situ Atmospheric and Geochemical Explorer (VISAGE)

Lunar South Pole-Aitken Basin Sample Return
•   Moonrise

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

If NASA has fuel for three MMRTGs beyond the Mars 2020 rover, I'm not sure which missions are likely to be chosen in the coming decade to use up that supply.  An ice giant orbiter would make a dent, but it wouldn't launch until the early 2030s.

Offline Star One

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #125 on: 08/15/2017 04:49 PM »
If NASA has fuel for three MMRTGs beyond the Mars 2020 rover, I'm not sure which missions are likely to be chosen in the coming decade to use up that supply.  An ice giant orbiter would make a dent, but it wouldn't launch until the early 2030s.

Surely fuel stocks would have been replenished by 2030s to allow the manufacture of more.
« Last Edit: 08/15/2017 05:17 PM by gongora »

Offline Jim

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #126 on: 08/15/2017 05:08 PM »

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

With what production?

Offline Star One

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #127 on: 08/15/2017 05:40 PM »

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

With what production?

They've restarted production I thought.

Offline vjkane

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #128 on: 08/15/2017 05:45 PM »

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

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

Choose well, NASA!

Offline Blackstar

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #129 on: 08/15/2017 05:53 PM »

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

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

Choose well, NASA!

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

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


Offline Star One

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New Frontiers 4
« Reply #130 on: 08/15/2017 05:57 PM »

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

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

Choose well, NASA!

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

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

Does this also depend on if Neptune or Uranus is chosen? Is one more demanding in this area than the other?
« Last Edit: 08/15/2017 05:57 PM by Star One »

Offline Blackstar

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #131 on: 08/15/2017 06:11 PM »
They've restarted production I thought.

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

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

I was curious, and I raised this issue, because if an MMRTG is not required for NF4, then of course the existing supply can be stretched out longer. But that's not necessarily a good thing in terms of programmatics. We've been kicking the can down the road for decades now, and I'd rather not give anybody an excuse to not produce new Pu-238.

Online redliox

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #132 on: 08/15/2017 06:21 PM »
Does this also depend on if Neptune or Uranus is chosen? Is one more demanding in this area than the other?

I don't think it matters.

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

Out of the current NF choices, which actually requires RTGs?  I assume the Saturn (and its moons) proposals, which are collectively 4, the possible Trojan mission, and I assume at least one of the comet missions?
« Last Edit: 08/15/2017 06:22 PM by redliox »
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Offline vjkane

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #133 on: 08/15/2017 06:26 PM »
Agreed, although it does mean once the choice is made it'll be probably a further decade before the other ice giant can be visited.  This of course is more relevant to the ice giant thread.

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

Offline Blackstar

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #134 on: 08/15/2017 06:35 PM »
The Saturn atmospheric probe proposal has the use of an RTG to provide power on the carrier spacecraft. Of course, once released from the carrier, the probe would run on its batteries. The carrier would be on a flyby trajectory.

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

I assumed/thought that the Saturn probe mission can use solar all the way and use batteries on the probe itself. I would think that they would want to avoid putting an RTG into that mission because of cost.

Offline Star One

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #135 on: 08/15/2017 06:37 PM »
Agreed, although it does mean once the choice is made it'll be probably a further decade before the other ice giant can be visited.  This of course is more relevant to the ice giant thread.

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

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

Offline Blackstar

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #136 on: 08/15/2017 06:53 PM »
Agreed, although it does mean once the choice is made it'll be probably a further decade before the other ice giant can be visited.  This of course is more relevant to the ice giant thread.

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

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

Complexity counts against every cost-capped mission.

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #137 on: 08/15/2017 07:38 PM »
What about planned Mars Sample Return sample caching rover? It is now decided whether it will use solar panel or RTG?

Offline vjkane

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #138 on: 08/15/2017 07:46 PM »
What about planned Mars Sample Return sample caching rover? It is now decided whether it will use solar panel or RTG?
The engineering concept images I've seen all show solar power.  The goal for that rover is speed with minimal instruments, perhaps only cameras, an arm to gather sample tubes, and a container for the tubes.

Offline Blackstar

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #139 on: 08/15/2017 07:52 PM »
What about planned Mars Sample Return sample caching rover? It is now decided whether it will use solar panel or RTG?
The engineering concept images I've seen all show solar power.  The goal for that rover is speed with minimal instruments, perhaps only cameras, an arm to gather sample tubes, and a container for the tubes.

Yeah. It's a medium-size vehicle at best, only solar. I do think that they are considering a bit more than "minimal instruments." But that's all in the trades. It doesn't need RTGs. And really, if you were going to dedicate plutonium to that mission, the best place to spend it is keeping the ascent vehicle warm, not powering the rover.

Offline AegeanBlue

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #140 on: 08/15/2017 08:27 PM »
If the Saturn probe's carrier is RTG powered and since it will be on a flyby trajectory, it might be used as a probe to interstellar space, Voyager or New Horizons style. Then again adding instruments to it so that it functions as an interstellar probe will add to cost and complexity. If they just want a carrier, solar power is sufficient (hopefully) and losing power is a plus for a cost constrained probe

Offline mnauprsk

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #141 on: 08/15/2017 08:41 PM »
If the Saturn probe's carrier is RTG powered and since it will be on a flyby trajectory, it might be used as a probe to interstellar space, Voyager or New Horizons style. Then again adding instruments to it so that it functions as an interstellar probe will add to cost and complexity. If they just want a carrier, solar power is sufficient (hopefully) and losing power is a plus for a cost constrained probe
Maybe it could visit some TNO or TNOs on the way. But such mission would probably would be too expensive for New Frontiers.
« Last Edit: 08/15/2017 08:42 PM by mnauprsk »

Offline vjkane

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #142 on: 08/15/2017 09:16 PM »
Agreed, although it does mean once the choice is made it'll be probably a further decade before the other ice giant can be visited.  This of course is more relevant to the ice giant thread.

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

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

Complexity counts against every cost-capped mission.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Offline vjkane

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #143 on: 08/15/2017 09:20 PM »
If the Saturn probe's carrier is RTG powered and since it will be on a flyby trajectory, it might be used as a probe to interstellar space, Voyager or New Horizons style. Then again adding instruments to it so that it functions as an interstellar probe will add to cost and complexity. If they just want a carrier, solar power is sufficient (hopefully) and losing power is a plus for a cost constrained probe
Maybe it could visit some TNO or TNOs on the way. But such mission would probably would be too expensive for New Frontiers.
The carrier craft for both the SPRITE and European equivalent Hera missions would be solar powered.  By the way, with a mid 2020's launch, a Uranus flyby would be possible.  But not without RTGs.

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #144 on: 08/16/2017 03:17 AM »
I'll add to what Blackstar said: It is possible for a proposal to be marked as having weaknesses because it overreaches. This can happen for a number of reasons, but a likely one for this round of proposals is differences between the AO and the Decadal on certain targets. It is possible that by attempting to cover both the AO and the Decadal, a proposal would be judged infeasible within a New Frontiers cost cap. Unfortunately, without closely reading a proposal it would be difficult to know if this has happened.

Offline vjkane

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #145 on: 08/16/2017 08:56 PM »
I'll add to what Blackstar said: It is possible for a proposal to be marked as having weaknesses because it overreaches. This can happen for a number of reasons, but a likely one for this round of proposals is differences between the AO and the Decadal on certain targets. It is possible that by attempting to cover both the AO and the Decadal, a proposal would be judged infeasible within a New Frontiers cost cap. Unfortunately, without closely reading a proposal it would be difficult to know if this has happened.

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

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

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

And then from the ELF presentation to OPAG:

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

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

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

My take on this is that missions such as ELF can have simple spacecraft and mission operations, but that making critical measurements can be the tricky part.  If I remember right, the Discovery ELF proposal had additional instruments over the now current NF proposal.  The wording of the ELF slide suggests a laser focus on demonstrating that the instruments can make the critical measurements from the minuscule samples from each pass.  One trick that they will utilize (the Clipper mass spec will do the same) will be to collect the samples, keep them frozen on a plate (I believe it's a plate), and then conduct the measurements during the long periods between flybys.
« Last Edit: 08/16/2017 11:26 PM by vjkane »

Offline vjkane

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #146 on: 08/16/2017 11:23 PM »
We possibly can see an example of the focus on demonstrating that the instruments and mission design can meet the science goals for the Enceladus flyby proposals.  From a mid-term Decadal Survey, we have:

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


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

Sorry for the imprecision.  It was a presentation from OPAG to the Decadal Survey midterm assessment.
« Last Edit: 08/16/2017 11:32 PM by vjkane »

Offline Star One

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #147 on: 08/25/2017 07:22 PM »
Short article about Dragonfly.

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

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

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #148 on: 08/26/2017 09:56 AM »
Short article about Dragonfly.

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

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

I'm actually impressed that this concept requires only one MMRTG, though I assume the data rate is going to be a few kb/s.

Offline vjkane

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #149 on: 08/26/2017 03:42 PM »
Short article about Dragonfly.

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

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

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

The Saturn system would benefit from a small Flagship mission that could include orbiter instruments for both Enceladus and Titan, one or more landers for Titan (I like Dragonfly), and a relay capability on the orbiter. 

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #150 on: 08/26/2017 04:01 PM »
The Titan copter is supposed to include a gamma-ray spectrometer according to that article.  I thought that instrument was mainly for heavier elements.  How useful would that be on a (basically) planet that's dominated by carbon and ices of light material?
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Offline Don2

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #151 on: 09/04/2017 09:13 PM »
On one level I love the Titan quadrocopter. It is a really interesting and creative idea and it would be really cool to see it fly. On the other hand I don't think that it is well suited for a cost capped New Frontiers slot. I think you would be doing real well to build the vehicle itself for $1.0 billion. When you add the extra stuff that you need to get the vehicle to the surface of Titan you are probably talking at least $1.5 billion. It could very easily cost more and there is a decent chance that it could not be made to work at all. Obviously, nothing like it has ever been built.

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

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

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

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


Offline vjkane

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #152 on: 09/04/2017 11:14 PM »
What might work would be a Flagship mission with a quadrocopter  and an orbiter for imaging and data relay support. The science objective would be to sample several of the major terrain types on the Titan surface.

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

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

Given that Flagship missions in the recent past and near future run from $2.4B to $3-4B, perhaps a small Flagship mission might be $1.5B.  One could imagine that it might combine the Oceanus and ELF instruments and goals and perhaps add a simple Titan lander.  I suspect that doing what Don2 suggests -- Oceanus+ELF with a separate Dragonfly mission -- would be closer to the Curiosity/Mars 2020 price tag of ~$2.4B.  In that scheme, the orbiter could act as a communications relay, dramatically increasing the amount of data returned from the Dragonfly craft.  (And I should note that we don't have proof that these Saturn missions can be done on a New Frontiers budget.  Based on presentations from OPAG, the Discovery program budgets are too tight for outer planet missions.)

Offline vjkane

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #153 on: 09/04/2017 11:31 PM »
I'm not sure if that mission could rise to the level of a flagship in terms of science. It could certainly cost that much, but flagship missions are intended to address major fundamental science questions, and a bunch of them. However, that's a somewhat blurry line--as one scientist said to me years ago, the Europa orbiter proposal was really New Frontiers class science at a flagship class price.
If life is found, then that is automatically flagship level raised to the power of some high number.  The question whether the mission justifies flagship costs if life isn't found.  For Curiosity and Mars 2020, the answer is, I believe, yes because a large number of other priority science questions are addressed.  For Europa, I again believe the answer is yes if its found that Europa probably doesn't have a habitable environment because the craft will examine a large number of questions about icy moons with oceans in contact with rocky cores.  (The same argument could be made for Enceladus, but Cassini pretty much nailed the remote sensing studies and the next step is to extend the plume composition measurements with modern mass spectrometers.)

I'd argue that a mission that combines the goals of the Oceanus, ELF, and perhaps TiME missions would achieve flagship scale science.  I suspect that Blackstar would argue that such a mission isn't a small flagship missions but a full scale one.  He may be right.  However, there's been a lot of work done looking at how to reduce costs of missions to the Saturn system, so perhaps things have changed.  We'll learn more once the assessments of the Oceanus and ELF proposals are available.  We won't learn details, but we are likely to hear whether in general Saturn missions can fit within New Frontiers budgets.

Offline Don2

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #154 on: 09/05/2017 08:30 AM »
@ Blackstar : You'd want to keep the quadrocopter instrumentaion simple, so maybe just a panoramic camera, a descent camera and a mass spectrometer. The descent camera would give maybe 0.3 m/pixel along the flight path. You could put a little heated tube on the landing skid to collect samples of the ice for the mass spec. You'd get imagery and composition of several different terrains, and hopefully would have enough data to figure out how they formed.

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


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

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

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

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

I'm basing those numbers on the Saturn mission concept study done for the last decadal survey. That spacecraft was powered by 2 ASRGs and had a 1.6kb/s data link with earth.

Offline Star One

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New Frontiers 4
« Reply #155 on: 09/05/2017 04:26 PM »
If life is found, then that is automatically flagship level raised to the power of some high number. 

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

So if life is found elsewhere in the Solar System that would not be a scientific priority. I am rather surprised to hear this.
« Last Edit: 09/05/2017 04:28 PM by Star One »

Offline Star One

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #156 on: 09/05/2017 09:09 PM »
If life is found, then that is automatically flagship level raised to the power of some high number. 

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

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

I think you're misreading.

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

But was that what the OP that you were replying to was saying?

Offline Phil Stooke

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #157 on: 09/05/2017 09:11 PM »
It's the next mission which is (probably) an automatic flagship.  Although there is also the concern that discovering life slows exploration as people struggle with how to study it without messing it up.

Offline Star One

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #158 on: 09/05/2017 09:51 PM »
It's the next mission which is (probably) an automatic flagship.  Although there is also the concern that discovering life slows exploration as people struggle with how to study it without messing it up.

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

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

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

Offline whitelancer64

Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #159 on: 09/05/2017 09:56 PM »
No, it's accurate enough.

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

It would not be an issue if we saw creatures moving around, respiring, etc. but that is unlikely.
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Offline Don2

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #160 on: 09/06/2017 03:27 AM »
I think we should consider what the best way to search for life on Titan is. Land based life on earth only evolved 500 million years ago. So for 90% of the earth's history, life was only found in the oceans. This suggests to me that the Titan lake lander is far more likely to find life that the quadrocopter.

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

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

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

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

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

A simple lake lander should answer the question of whether the possibility of life in the lakes is worth pursuing. It should collect enough engineering and chemical data to support the design of more complex life detection experiments. It should also try a few simple life detection efforts, like looking for biofouling and filtering lake fluids and then looking to see if anything interesting is caught in the filters.

Offline Kesarion

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #161 on: 09/06/2017 06:49 AM »
I think we should consider what the best way to search for life on Titan is.

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

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

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


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

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


« Last Edit: 09/06/2017 06:57 AM by Kesarion »

Offline Star One

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New Frontiers 4
« Reply #162 on: 09/06/2017 07:52 AM »
It's the next mission which is (probably) an automatic flagship.  Although there is also the concern that discovering life slows exploration as people struggle with how to study it without messing it up.

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

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

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

I suggest doing some research.

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

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

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

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

https://m.phys.org/news/2016-10-year-old-viking-life-mars.html
« Last Edit: 09/06/2017 08:00 AM by Star One »

Offline Ben the Space Brit

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #163 on: 09/06/2017 11:05 AM »
I always thought that life had some pretty broad basic criteria:

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

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

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

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #164 on: 09/06/2017 12:30 PM »
I always thought that life had some pretty broad basic criteria:

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

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

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

Exactly. Turning even the definition into some overly complex debate seems counterproductive.

Offline Star One

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New Frontiers 4
« Reply #165 on: 09/06/2017 12:33 PM »
It's the next mission which is (probably) an automatic flagship.  Although there is also the concern that discovering life slows exploration as people struggle with how to study it without messing it up.

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

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

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

I suggest doing some research.

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


You're missing the point.

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

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

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

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

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

It's the same way that I've seen scientists complain online that it's hard to get SETI related papers published, with some even suggesting their may be a bias against them.
« Last Edit: 09/06/2017 12:35 PM by Star One »

Offline Kesarion

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #166 on: 09/06/2017 01:34 PM »
I noticed you failed to answer any of the points raised in that article.

Because it was irrelevant.

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

This is not serious thinking. This is silly thinking.

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

I believe the criticism is that some scientists are rather dismissive of the whole subject and unfairly refuse to even consider a biological presence as a reasonable explanation. The feeling among some observers of this process seems to be that there is a bias coming from the planetary scientists, not necessary as a financial conspiracy but rather as a generalized cynicism/pessimism.
« Last Edit: 09/06/2017 01:43 PM by Kesarion »

Offline Star One

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #167 on: 09/06/2017 01:47 PM »
I noticed you failed to answer any of the points raised in that article.

Because it was irrelevant.

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

This is not serious thinking. This is silly thinking.

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

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

Thank you for putting into words better than I am seemingly able to at the moment what I was trying to get at.

Offline Welsh Dragon

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #168 on: 09/06/2017 03:42 PM »
It's the next mission which is (probably) an automatic flagship.  Although there is also the concern that discovering life slows exploration as people struggle with how to study it without messing it up.

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

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

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

Offline Star One

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New Frontiers 4
« Reply #169 on: 09/06/2017 04:07 PM »
It's the next mission which is (probably) an automatic flagship.  Although there is also the concern that discovering life slows exploration as people struggle with how to study it without messing it up.

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

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

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

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

Yes my response was flip but it was in response to the kind of attitude that partly causes this problem in the first place. The kind of attitude that has contributed to where we are today online and politically.
« Last Edit: 09/06/2017 04:13 PM by Star One »

Offline whitelancer64

Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #170 on: 09/06/2017 04:34 PM »
It's a common opinion because most people don't understand the complexities of the issue. Ask a biologist, or better yet, an astrobiologist, to explain some of the difficulties to you.

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

So when people say "why not put a life detection instrument on the next rover?" the answer to that question is that a "life detection instrument" does not exist.
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Offline Welsh Dragon

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #171 on: 09/06/2017 04:50 PM »
<snip>
Others have already explained this to you, but as a professional scientist (neuroscience) I have to say that your statement is not only insulting to actual scientists, it also shows a profound lack of understanding of how science works.

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

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

We are where we are exactly because people don't listen to experts. Not our fault. We try, but if the population isn't willing to listen, they suffer the consequences.

Offline Star One

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #172 on: 09/06/2017 04:58 PM »
<snip>
Others have already explained this to you, but as a professional scientist (neuroscience) I have to say that your statement is not only insulting to actual scientists, it also shows a profound lack of understanding of how science works.

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

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

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

I had an old Geography teacher and one of the reasons he was so good at his job was he would never back off trying to educate and improve any person no matter how disengaged they were.
« Last Edit: 09/06/2017 05:01 PM by Star One »

Offline Welsh Dragon

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #173 on: 09/06/2017 05:00 PM »
Sigh, you're still not understanding. If people are unwilling to listen, you can talk at them as much as you want, they're not going to listen. What more can we do? Strap them in a chair and give them a mandatory science degree? What is your actual proposal to improve the situation then?

Offline Star One

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #174 on: 09/06/2017 05:04 PM »
Sigh, you're still not understanding. If people are unwilling to listen, you can talk at them as much as you want, they're not going to listen. What more can we do? Strap them in a chair and give them a mandatory science degree? What is your actual proposal to improve the situation then?
I saw a scientist say online that if people hold silly beliefs then it was because they needed to try harder next time to reach these people. Do you not understand that you are in a virtual war with those who would seek to spread ignorance?
« Last Edit: 09/06/2017 05:04 PM by Star One »

Offline whitelancer64

Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #175 on: 09/06/2017 05:06 PM »
Sigh, you're still not understanding. If people are unwilling to listen, you can talk at them as much as you want, they're not going to listen. What more can we do? Strap them in a chair and give them a mandatory science degree? What is your actual proposal to improve the situation then?
I saw a scientist say online that if people hold silly beliefs then it was because they needed to try harder next time to reach these people. Do you not understand that you are in a virtual war with those who would seek to spread ignorance?

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

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

https://www.nasa.gov/vision/universe/starsgalaxies/life's_working_definition.html
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Offline Lar

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #176 on: 09/06/2017 06:35 PM »
How science works? Who is a scientist and who isn't?  Off topic.
Casting aspersions on each other? Off topic AND not nice.
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Offline Star One

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #177 on: 09/06/2017 08:14 PM »
Quote
Jeff Foust @jeff_foust
NASA’s Curt Niebur: on track to select “three-ish” New Frontiers proposals for Phase A studies by Christmas; final selection in May 2019.

https://mobile.twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/905458467288305668

Offline Don2

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #178 on: 09/06/2017 08:32 PM »
Let's move on and discuss some of the other proposals. One proposal that makes a lot of sense from a program point of view is the Lunar South Pole Sample Return. Returning a sample from Mars is different in many ways from returning a lunar sample, but there are enough similarities to see the lunar mission as a very useful training exercise for Mars sample return. Also, the manned program seems to be moving back to a lunar focus so retrieving a lunar polar sample would help to support that. The lunar poles are often discussed as locations for a manned base because temperatures are more moderate and sun light is near continuous in a few places. Also, water might be available under the ground. The main goal of the mission is to produce a date for the Late Heavy Bombardment, but the sample might also reveal something about the availability of water near the lunar poles.

The comet sample return proposals make a lot less sense from a program point of view. We already have OSIRIS-REX and Hayabusa-2 on their way to primitive asteroid targets. It seems to me that we should wait and see if the sample return collection strategies on those two missions prove to be successful. There have been two attempts so far to sample low gravity bodies, neither of which have been completely successful. Hayabusa-1 only returned with a few grains of sample, and Rosetta's lander didn't last long enough to drill below the surface. Also, it makes sense to wait until those samples are returned and studied before looking for more. The science community may decide that they want something different once they have had a chance to study those samples.

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #179 on: 09/07/2017 05:49 PM »
I do consider sampling the Moon a great option for a variety of reasons.  In this case there are 2 specific reasons I'd endorse it:

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

I hope both this and the Venus missions make it to the semi-final round.
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Offline Star One

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New Frontiers 4
« Reply #180 on: 09/07/2017 06:48 PM »
I don't want to rehash my views on this again needless to say I will be rooting for Dragonfly or Oceanus, exploring a truly unique environment.

I suspect of the two Oceanus has a better chance of getting through to the next round due to its hardware heritage and more manageable power & mission requirements.
« Last Edit: 09/07/2017 06:54 PM by Star One »

Offline vjkane

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #181 on: 09/08/2017 03:29 AM »
It's the next mission which is (probably) an automatic flagship.  Although there is also the concern that discovering life slows exploration as people struggle with how to study it without messing it up.

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

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

Blackstar, you are quite correct that time doesn't run backwards.  Missions that have the potential to find life or last least explore its origins tend to rank higher in priority than those that don't.  The probability of finding life on Mars has always been low.  Hostile environment now, and finding fossils and identifying them as such, as you point out, is very hard.  Yet NASA has spent billions exploring the possibility and building the case for habitability.  If we *knew* that Mars never hosted life and that Europa doesn't, then I think that our spending priorities would be quite different.  Because we are biophiles, the possibility of life raises the priority of certain targets. 

Offline Don2

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #182 on: 09/08/2017 06:50 AM »
@redliox...I think that Moonrise and ELF are among my favorites. The soils at the lunar south pole never get as warm as the ones near the equator which means that area is likely to be richer in volatiles than any of the Apollo samples. Moonrise will dig a little below the surface and the soil might get wetter as you go deeper. A polar soil sample would be useful for people thinking about the possibility of a manned polar base. In fact there is a case for the manned program to fund the mission if they are at all serious about returning to the moon.

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

@vjkane...Mars is quite easy to get to and has abundant 3 billion year old rocks which record the early evolution of a terrestrial planet.  I think it would get a fair bit of attention even if it was known to be lifeless, although not as much as it does.

Offline Don2

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #183 on: 09/08/2017 07:01 AM »
As far as Dragonfly goes, I think the level of complexity looks more like MSL than any $1 billion mission. New Horizons was RTG powered, and that bought a very simple spacecraft for $800 million or so. Dragonfly will cost a lot more than that or Juno or OSIRUS-REX. MSL did have a brief powered flight when it was being lowered from the skycrane. Dragonfly will weight a lot less, but it needs autonomous navigation capabilities that even MSL did not have and it operates in a much colder environment which will cause materials and component challenges. I think I remember something about MSL having trouble because the development of a low temperature electric motor failed. I don't think I can believe in anything less than $1.5 billion for Dragonfly cost, and $2.5 billion seems like a more likely number.

Offline Star One

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New Frontiers 4
« Reply #184 on: 09/08/2017 08:45 AM »
As far as Dragonfly goes, I think the level of complexity looks more like MSL than any $1 billion mission. New Horizons was RTG powered, and that bought a very simple spacecraft for $800 million or so. Dragonfly will cost a lot more than that or Juno or OSIRUS-REX. MSL did have a brief powered flight when it was being lowered from the skycrane. Dragonfly will weight a lot less, but it needs autonomous navigation capabilities that even MSL did not have and it operates in a much colder environment which will cause materials and component challenges. I think I remember something about MSL having trouble because the development of a low temperature electric motor failed. I don't think I can believe in anything less than $1.5 billion for Dragonfly cost, and $2.5 billion seems like a more likely number.

What about all the advancement in autonomous systems, even with the requirements for radiation hardening components, which will be less onerous at Saturn,  or the cold environment this technology has advanced considerably. In general you seem to be over costing this mission for no real reasons that I can see.
« Last Edit: 09/08/2017 09:02 AM by Star One »

Offline Don2

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #185 on: 09/09/2017 05:37 PM »
@Star One... There are a lot of features of this mission that make me worry about costs. RTG powered missions are normally very expensive and rarely come in at less than $1billion. Low temperature operation causes trouble because some materials become brittle. Infra-red telescopes cast far more per unit of area than visible light ones because of this. While we are on the subject of embrittlement, hydrogen can also cause problems and the Titan atmosphere has it.

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

Offline Star One

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #186 on: 09/09/2017 06:21 PM »
@Star One... There are a lot of features of this mission that make me worry about costs. RTG powered missions are normally very expensive and rarely come in at less than $1billion. Low temperature operation causes trouble because some materials become brittle. Infra-red telescopes cast far more per unit of area than visible light ones because of this. While we are on the subject of embrittlement, hydrogen can also cause problems and the Titan atmosphere has it.

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

Autonomous systems are you forgetting about the ExoMars rover?

Offline vjkane

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #187 on: 09/09/2017 10:12 PM »
When I first read about Dragonfly I was concerned about the autonomous flight and landing. I did some web searches and was impressed with how mature the technology has become. I also suspect that there's a lot more technology available on the military side that's classified but available to the team.

My guess is that the cost of integrating and especially thoroughly testing everything will prove too much for a new Frontiers budget (but I want to be proved wrong!).  If that's the case I hope that NASA will fund further technology development and the next Decadal will prioritize the mission.

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #188 on: 09/13/2017 07:15 PM »
Quote
Jeff Foust @jeff_foust
NASA’s Jim Green: we’re in good stead for the next several decades regarding plutonium for RTG-powered future missions; won’t be limiting.
6:35 pm · 13 Sep 2017

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

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

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

Online redliox

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #189 on: 09/14/2017 05:04 AM »
Quote
Jeff Foust @jeff_foust
Green appeared to confirm that there were missions to Enceladus and/or Titan proposed in latest New Frontiers round (not surprising).
6:46 pm · 13 Sep 2017

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

If that's correct, we could assume 2 out of the "3-ish" missions are Saturn themed with 1 non-Saturnian running mate.  I hope Venus fared better than in Discovery.
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Offline vjkane

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #190 on: 09/14/2017 06:26 AM »
Quote
Jeff Foust @jeff_foust
Green appeared to confirm that there were missions to Enceladus and/or Titan proposed in latest New Frontiers round (not surprising).
6:46 pm · 13 Sep 2017

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

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

Offline Blackstar

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #191 on: 09/14/2017 12:22 PM »

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

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

I have talked to a previous AA for science about the Discovery selection process. He said that they have less maneuvering room than you would think--the review board provides a recommendation and a detailed explanation of their recommendation, and it's hard to go against that. For instance, if the review board says that the only viable missions are to go to planet Q and you really would like to select the planet P mission, it's not really possible to select the planet P mission.

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