Author Topic: NASA Selects Two Missions to Explore the Early Solar System  (Read 11797 times)

Offline Star One

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Deep Space Communications via Faraway Photons

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A spacecraft destined to explore a unique asteroid will also test new communication hardware that uses lasers instead of radio waves.

The Deep Space Optical Communications (DSOC) package aboard NASA's Psyche mission utilizes photons -- the fundamental particle of visible light -- to transmit more data in a given amount of time. The DSOC goal is to increase spacecraft communications performance and efficiency by 10 to 100 times over conventional means, all without increasing the mission burden in mass, volume, power and/or spectrum.

Tapping the advantages offered by laser communications is expected to revolutionize future space endeavors - a major objective of NASA's Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD).

The DSOC project is developing key technologies that are being integrated into a deep space-worthy Flight Laser Transceiver (FLT), high-tech work that will advance this mode of communications to Technology Readiness Level (TRL) 6. Reaching a TRL 6 level equates to having technology that is a fully functional prototype or representational model.

As a "game changing" technology demonstration, DSOC is exactly that. NASA STMD's Game Changing Development Program funded the technology development phase of DSOC. The flight demonstration is jointly funded by STMD, the Technology Demonstration Mission (TDM) Program and NASA/ HEOMD/Space Communication and Navigation (SCaN).

https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?release=2017-272&rn=news.xml&rst=6967

Offline redliox

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Article talking about the Psyche mission's SEP and the trajectory it will take for its mission:
https://medium.com/the-nasa-psyche-mission-journey-to-a-metal-world/psyche-is-an-sep-mission-whats-that-mean-f56f7f0c8a89
"Let the trails lead where they may, I will follow."
-Tigatron

Offline mikelepage

Seriously, half the posts on this topic are about what rocket might launch it five years from now. Don't you guys argue that issue enough on just about every other thread on this site?

Crazy isn't it?  Personally, I am really excited about Psyche.  I think it as the same poential for the unexpected as Rosetta.

Indeed.

Another thing I find extremely interesting is the discrepancy between its apparent size, and its density (equating to porosity of ~40% https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/16_Psyche).  I'm half hoping we get there and find huge, stable voids that we can park space stations in for radiation protection.  Between its huge mineral wealth and low inclination, I wonder if it might not be as good as Mars for habitation - certainly a better first asteroid than Ceres.

Online gongora

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From 2018 GAO Assessment of NASA Projects

Lucy:
Quote
The project’s planned launch window is OctoberNovember
2021. Under that planned launch date, Lucy is
expected to have its rehearsal flyby–a main belt asteroid
encounter that will allow the project to test instruments—in
2025 and then fly by Trojan asteroids over the course of
the next 8 years. If the project misses that launch date,
another launch window opens in 2022.

Launch
In coordination with NASA Launch Services at Kennedy
Space Center, project officials identified the Atlas V and
Falcon Heavy as vehicles that meet mission requirements.
However, as of January 2018, the Falcon Heavy had not
flown, so launch environment data was not yet available to
the project. Project officials are tracking a risk that it could
be necessary to rework hardware due to the Falcon Heavy
launch environment. However, the project has assessed
the cost impact of this scenario should the Falcon Heavy be
selected. Officials said they do not expect NASA to select
a launch vehicle prior to the project’s planned September
2018 preliminary design review, the point at which projects
prefer to select a launch vehicle. Until then, the project
is designing to a mix of the two potential launch vehicles’
requirements.

Psyche
Quote
In September 2017, the project reported a risk that it may
have to conduct integration and testing off-site because
it is planning to share a clean room with the Europa
Clipper project, which has stricter planetary protection
and contamination control requirements. These stricter
requirements have a cost impact and the project is
researching options to partition the clean room without
jeopardizing the Europa Clipper project’s requirements. The
project is also researching options to conduct integration
and testing off-site, such as using the contractor’s facilities.

Offline vjkane

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What I found most interesting about the report for these two missions were the estimated full life cycle costs.  These costs include the widely reported principal investigator's budget for the spacecraft, instruments, and scientific analysis (I believe these were ~$450M for the selection of these two missions; don't have all my files available right now to check).  These costs also include additional NASA costs such as overview, launch, and operations.  As GAO reports the costs, they also include an inflation factor.

So drum roll, the full costs of these missions are currently projected to be:

Lucy $914-984M
Psyche $907-957M

An important caveat is that both missions are still in formulation and don't yet have a committed cost estimate, so the numbers above are just best estimates while the implementation details are still being worked.

However, these numbers are a good sized leap from the initial life cycle costs for the InSight Discovery mission, which I were $675M before the two year launch delay raised the final estimate to $829M per the GAO report.

Inflation is a bitch.  The next Decadal Survey (due to be completed in 2022) will be looking at a number of missions to try to fit within projected NASA budgets.  I'm expecting sticker shock on how much some of those missions are likely to be estimated to cost.

Offline Blackstar

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What I found most interesting about the report for these two missions were the estimated full life cycle costs.  These costs include the widely reported principal investigator's budget for the spacecraft, instruments, and scientific analysis (I believe these were ~$450M for the selection of these two missions; don't have all my files available right now to check).  These costs also include additional NASA costs such as overview, launch, and operations.  As GAO reports the costs, they also include an inflation factor.

So drum roll, the full costs of these missions are currently projected to be:

Lucy $914-984M
Psyche $907-957M

An important caveat is that both missions are still in formulation and don't yet have a committed cost estimate, so the numbers above are just best estimates while the implementation details are still being worked.

However, these numbers are a good sized leap from the initial life cycle costs for the InSight Discovery mission, which I were $675M before the two year launch delay raised the final estimate to $829M per the GAO report.

Inflation is a bitch.  The next Decadal Survey (due to be completed in 2022) will be looking at a number of missions to try to fit within projected NASA budgets.  I'm expecting sticker shock on how much some of those missions are likely to be estimated to cost.

When calculating this stuff, you really need to make sure you list all of the things that are included so that people know what is being counted. Phase E (science evaluation) costs were taken out of Discovery a number of years ago because they were hurting outer planets missions that took longer to reach their targets to start operating.

I'll probably be running the next planetary DS and we're already working on how to do cost estimating for the next decadals (astro is planned to be the next one up).

But let me point out something that gets forgotten: cost is not the only factor or even the primary factor. What matters is what you do. If it costs more, but is still worth doing, then that's the important thing. People tend to gravitate to the costs issue because they (think) they understand it, whereas the science is abstract and complex and amorphous.

Offline vjkane

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When calculating this stuff, you really need to make sure you list all of the things that are included so that people know what is being counted. Phase E (science evaluation) costs were taken out of Discovery a number of years ago because they were hurting outer planets missions that took longer to reach their targets to start operating.

I'll probably be running the next planetary DS and we're already working on how to do cost estimating for the next decadals (astro is planned to be the next one up).

But let me point out something that gets forgotten: cost is not the only factor or even the primary factor. What matters is what you do. If it costs more, but is still worth doing, then that's the important thing. People tend to gravitate to the costs issue because they (think) they understand it, whereas the science is abstract and complex and amorphous.
The next Decadal will get to chose from a very rich set of possible missions.  I look forward to seeing how the team optimizes the science from within the range of expected budgets.

The most recent planetary budgets have been very good.  However, they look less good when you take into account the effects of inflation.  That could be a real problem if the budget is held flat in real dollars as the administration's most recent budget request projects.

Offline Blackstar

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When calculating this stuff, you really need to make sure you list all of the things that are included so that people know what is being counted. Phase E (science evaluation) costs were taken out of Discovery a number of years ago because they were hurting outer planets missions that took longer to reach their targets to start operating.

I'll probably be running the next planetary DS and we're already working on how to do cost estimating for the next decadals (astro is planned to be the next one up).

But let me point out something that gets forgotten: cost is not the only factor or even the primary factor. What matters is what you do. If it costs more, but is still worth doing, then that's the important thing. People tend to gravitate to the costs issue because they (think) they understand it, whereas the science is abstract and complex and amorphous.
The next Decadal will get to chose from a very rich set of possible missions.  I look forward to seeing how the team optimizes the science from within the range of expected budgets.

The most recent planetary budgets have been very good.  However, they look less good when you take into account the effects of inflation.  That could be a real problem if the budget is held flat in real dollars as the administration's most recent budget request projects.

You're more worried than I am.

Tags: asteroids Psyche Lucy