Author Topic: NASA Announces New Rover to Close Out Decade of New Missions  (Read 48972 times)

Offline Blackstar

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Re: NASA Announces New Rover to Close Out Decade of New Missions
« Reply #180 on: 12/15/2012 12:14 PM »
This is a good summary:

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

The resurrection of Mars Sample Return

by Pat Nealon
Monday, December 10, 2012

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

Offline JohnFornaro

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

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

Just from a grammatical standpoint, the word "ultimate" is being overused.  I wish they'd quit hyping stuff.
Sometimes I just flat out don't get it.

Offline Blackstar

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Re: NASA Announces New Rover to Close Out Decade of New Missions
« Reply #182 on: 12/15/2012 04:49 PM »
Here's a quick chart from a recent presentation on how the Curiosity skycrane system evolved from earlier designs.

Offline vulture4

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

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

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

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

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

Offline JohnFornaro

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

Back to grammar school!  Thanks for the splitting of the hairs.  Even so, they overuse the word "ultimate".
Sometimes I just flat out don't get it.

Offline TheMightyM

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

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

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

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

Offline Dalhousie

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

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

http://www.planetary.org/blogs/casey-dreier/20121204-the-2020-rover-in-context.html
"There is nobody who is a bigger fan of sending robots to Mars than me... But I believe firmly that the best, the most comprehensive, the most successful exploration will be done by humans" Steve Squyres

Offline TheMightyM

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

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

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

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

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

Offline Dalhousie

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Re: NASA Announces New Rover to Close Out Decade of New Missions
« Reply #188 on: 12/26/2012 09:04 PM »
New Horizons and Discovery are funded from separate pots of money.
« Last Edit: 08/19/2015 05:48 AM by Dalhousie »
"There is nobody who is a bigger fan of sending robots to Mars than me... But I believe firmly that the best, the most comprehensive, the most successful exploration will be done by humans" Steve Squyres

Offline Blackstar

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Re: NASA Announces New Rover to Close Out Decade of New Missions
« Reply #189 on: 12/26/2012 09:31 PM »
I'm sorta scratching my head at what you guys are saying.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Offline Comga

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

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

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

Offline Comga

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

Ooh, Ooh, Ooh!  Deep Space 2.1!   :P
What kind of wastrels would dump a perfectly good booster in the ocean after just one use?

Offline JohnFornaro

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I could certainly use them as tractor  uhhh... rover excavator/dozer weights.   Better traction that way.
Sometimes I just flat out don't get it.

Online aero

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Re: NASA Announces New Rover to Close Out Decade of New Missions
« Reply #193 on: 12/27/2012 02:27 PM »
The off-set weights should be forged into pick-axes and rock hammers before use as weights. That way, future Mars colonists would have tools already on Mars for mining and sculpting as desired.
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Offline Blackstar

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Re: NASA Announces New Rover to Close Out Decade of New Missions
« Reply #194 on: 12/27/2012 03:40 PM »
The minimal sample cache was not driven by ego.  It was a sincere attempt to make some progress towards Mars Sample Return.

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

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

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

Offline Star One

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

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

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

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

Offline TrevorMonty

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

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

Offline Star One

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

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

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

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

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