Author Topic: The InSight Mission to Mars General Thread  (Read 42620 times)

Offline Blackstar

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Re: The InSight Mission to Mars General Thread
« Reply #140 on: 01/02/2014 02:31 PM »
Now, given that both ISRO and Roscosmos are planning on landing on the moon, I believe that a Lunar Seismic Network could be done by supplying a couple of instruments and sanding one or two landers.
BTW, China would be the ideal partner there, regrettably.

[Deleted stuff that I pretty much agree with.]

Certainly the Moon is the more obvious option for a seismic network from a partnering (and cost) standpoint. I'm not sure if you put a bunch of seismic scientists in a room if they would agree that the Moon is a more interesting seismic network target than Mars. I think that they would probably all agree that they would like to have a network somewhere, just because our knowledge of terrestrial body interiors is so limited.

When Alan Stern was the AA for science at NASA, he was actively pushing the International Lunar Network. His concept was that NASA would launch two seismic landers, and then offer up the instruments to other countries with the hope of getting at least two more landers. (He wanted to gut the Mars program partly to pay for this, and if he had started to implement it he probably would have faced a lot of opposition--he was apparently already facing internal opposition over it.) The Lunar Geophysical Network is an option for the New Frontiers 5 competition, probably in the early 20s:

http://thespacereview.com/article/2413/1

LGN could still happen with substantial international participation (although working that into a NF proposal itself is difficult). The ideal situation would be for China on its own, or with partner participation, to add seismic sensors to its landers. After all, China plans on putting at least 2-3 more landers on the Moon, and adding a seismometer to a couple of them would not substantially increase their complexity or detract from their primary goals. That said, in order for a network to provide the most useful data the nodes need to be spread out pretty far, with at least one of them on the far side. If China puts all their landers in the same general area on the near side of the Moon it won't provide much better information than the Apollo instruments.

Offline Dalhousie

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Re: The InSight Mission to Mars General Thread
« Reply #141 on: 01/02/2014 11:32 PM »
It might be better to offer the lander, and have other countries equip it with instruments (and a better camera)

I assumed the context was that other countries may land on Mars, and if they do so, they are going to want to design their own landers (because that is the point). It is easier to offer up an instrument for somebody else's lander than it is to try and convince them to pay you for your own lander.

The US could contribute the lander, just like they are with InSight.
"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 Dalhousie

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Re: The InSight Mission to Mars General Thread
« Reply #142 on: 01/02/2014 11:37 PM »
It might be better to offer the lander, and have other countries equip it with instruments (and a better camera)

I assumed the context was that other countries may land on Mars, and if they do so, they are going to want to design their own landers (because that is the point). It is easier to offer up an instrument for somebody else's lander than it is to try and convince them to pay you for your own lander.
Besides, NASA is more trustable as an instrument supplier partner than a LV/lander module partner.
I would like to point out that, in this budget reatricted times, NASA appears to be replicating the SAC-D/Aquarius model with ISRO for a radar mission. And in the end, they did kept their promised instruments for ExoMars.
The problem with Mars, is that the are three or four proven EDLs for Mars, and all of them are JPL's. So it's very difficult for NASA to partner just on instruments since just now ESA and Roscosmos are developing the necessary technologies.
Now, given that both ISRO and Roscosmos are planning on landing on the moon, I believe that a Lunar Seismic Network could be done by supplying a couple of instruments and sanding one or two landers.
BTW, China would be the ideal partner there, regrettably.

Actually the US has a good record on smaller missions, which using the Phoenix/Insight derived lander would be.

And JPL does not have a monopoly of landing on Mars.  The Phoenix/Insight lander was developed by  Lockheed-Martin, based on the work by Martin Marietta for Langley with Viking.
"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: The InSight Mission to Mars General Thread
« Reply #143 on: 01/03/2014 12:11 AM »
The US could contribute the lander, just like they are with InSight.

There is no U.S. funding mechanism that would lead to NASA flying another Mars seismic lander. And no other country is going to pay the U.S. for a Mars lander when they would prefer to pay themselves to build a lander.

Offline savuporo

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Re: The InSight Mission to Mars General Thread
« Reply #144 on: 01/03/2014 12:12 AM »
And JPL does not have a monopoly of landing on Mars.  The Phoenix/Insight lander was developed by  Lockheed-Martin, based on the work by Martin Marietta for Langley with Viking.
Um, pretty much every Mars mission is done with JPL contracting Lockheed Martin space systems. Not even sure if this list is complete
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lockheed_Martin_Space_Systems#Sensing_.26_Exploration_Systems
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Offline Jim

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Re: The InSight Mission to Mars General Thread
« Reply #145 on: 01/03/2014 12:41 AM »

Um, pretty much every Mars mission is done with JPL contracting Lockheed Martin space systems. Not even sure if this list is complete


Not Viking.  It was Langley

Offline Dalhousie

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Re: The InSight Mission to Mars General Thread
« Reply #146 on: 01/03/2014 10:29 PM »
The US could contribute the lander, just like they are with InSight.

There is no U.S. funding mechanism that would lead to NASA flying another Mars seismic lander. And no other country is going to pay the U.S. for a Mars lander when they would prefer to pay themselves to build a lander.

Not quite sure what you are getting at here.

There are huge advantages to having a network of seismometers as opposed to one.  Locating the position of seismic events is one.  Determining the internal structure of Mars is another.  Wider coverage is a third.  So a future seismic instrument is surely possible, even if there is "no US funding mechanisms".

Secondly, the seismic instrument is not a US instrument, it is a French one, with support from several other European institutions and JPL. 

Thirdly, all the instruments on Insight are from Europe examining heatflow and rotation.  They are not paying for the lander, the are contributing to a joint mission.  Or are you saying that this type of collaboration will not happen in the future?

Fourthly, there is no obligation for future missions to fly exactly the same payload.  The basic lander will have been used three times, with a different set of instruments each time.  It has proved successful and adaptable.  There are a wide range of issues that can be addressed using a stationary lander.

"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 Dalhousie

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Re: The InSight Mission to Mars General Thread
« Reply #147 on: 01/03/2014 10:32 PM »
And JPL does not have a monopoly of landing on Mars.  The Phoenix/Insight lander was developed by  Lockheed-Martin, based on the work by Martin Marietta for Langley with Viking.
Um, pretty much every Mars mission is done with JPL contracting Lockheed Martin space systems. Not even sure if this list is complete
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lockheed_Martin_Space_Systems#Sensing_.26_Exploration_Systems

Langley developed and managed the program in general, and developed the landers.  JPL developed or orbiters and managed the science mission.

See http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/viking/viking30_fs.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 savuporo

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Re: The InSight Mission to Mars General Thread
« Reply #148 on: 01/03/2014 10:42 PM »
Langley developed and managed the program in general, and developed the landers.  JPL developed or orbiters and managed the science mission.
Yes i got that. I guess 40 years later, all of the relevant expertise would be at JPL/LockMart by now.
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Offline Blackstar

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Re: The InSight Mission to Mars General Thread
« Reply #149 on: 01/04/2014 02:59 AM »
1-Not quite sure what you are getting at here.

2-There are huge advantages to having a network of seismometers as opposed to one.  Locating the position of seismic events is one.  Determining the internal structure of Mars is another.  Wider coverage is a third.  So a future seismic instrument is surely possible, even if there is "no US funding mechanisms".

3-Secondly, the seismic instrument is not a US instrument, it is a French one, with support from several other European institutions and JPL. 

4-all the instruments on Insight are from Europe examining heatflow and rotation.  They are not paying for the lander, the are contributing to a joint mission.  Or are you saying that this type of collaboration will not happen in the future?

5-there is no obligation for future missions to fly exactly the same payload.  The basic lander will have been used three times, with a different set of instruments each time.  It has proved successful and adaptable.  There are a wide range of issues that can be addressed using a stationary lander.

1-Yes, it is clear that you are confused about this. I'll try to clarify.

2-Yeah, huge advantages. But InSight is funded as a Discovery mission. It is a one-off mission. If there is going to be a second American seismic mission to Mars it will not happen as New Frontiers (did not make the cut), and it could only happen as another Discovery mission--and it will not happen, because the science value of a second seismic mission to Mars is far less than a whole bunch of other mission proposals that will be made to Discovery.

Ergo: unless another country funds a second seismic mission to Mars, it is not going to happen.

3-Not really relevant. The expensive thing is getting to Mars and landing. The U.S. is not going to fund that even if the French build more instruments and offer them up for free.

4-This kind of collaboration can happen in the future. But it won't happen for a second seismic mission. Reread point 2 above.

5-Sure. Somebody could propose a Mars meteorological lander to Discovery. Or they could propose a polar drill mission to Discovery. And they could propose using the same lander. And maybe they could add a seismic instrument as a secondary payload, assuming that they have the mass to do that (although why would they want to do it if the other science is more important to them?).

However, I suspect that additional Mars lander proposals would not fare well. There are a LOT of Discovery proposals floating around out there, and a lot of people who want to compete. And most of them want to go to places other than Mars. During the last Discovery call there were 28 mission proposals. I've managed to put together a partial list of what they were:

--4 Venus radar missions
--3 other Venus missions (probably landers/balloons of some sort)
--~8 asteroid/comet missions
(of the above, one was Tom Jones' NEO lander, another was Amy Mainzer's NEO survey mission that got some tech funding, and one was Comet Hopper)
--TiME (Titan lake lander)
--1 lunar seismic lander
--~2/3 lunar south pole ice prospectors
--InSight
--1 Io observer
(That's about 21-22 out of 28 right there.)

My guess is that the remainder were lunar and Mars missions, probably a couple of Mars trace gas orbiter type missions and maybe a lander or two. There might have also been a planetary telescope in the mix as well.

Now at the next Discovery call you can expect a number of repeat proposals. Even if the total number of proposals is smaller, you can figure that the distribution will be roughly the same.* There's no reason to expect a second Mars seismic lander to rank highly in that competition when InSight has already checked that box.




*One question is if the Venus community will get their act together. In particular, they don't need to pitch four different Venus radar missions. They need to pitch one good one. But it's like the old saying goes: there's no "team" in "I" and the reason they get multiple proposals is because individual principal investigators don't want to team up, they all want to be in charge.
« Last Edit: 01/04/2014 03:40 AM by Blackstar »

Offline Dalhousie

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Re: The InSight Mission to Mars General Thread
« Reply #150 on: 01/04/2014 10:28 AM »
Thanks for that.

However I think you are seriously underestimating the value of having a seismic network.

One seismic station tells you that there are earthquakes, that is about all. 

Two seismic stations will give approximate distance and therefore an approximate position.  It will also allow depth determination.

Three will triangulate position, provide good depth information, and allow measurement of the properties and structure of the martian interior.|

We currently only have such data for Earth and the Moon.  Mars is the only other body in the solar system we are likely to get such data for any time in the next century.  These data will not only tell us about Mars, but also how planets evolve.

Are these more important than some of the other options?  I don't know.  But they are important and sooner or later they will be flown.
"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: The InSight Mission to Mars General Thread
« Reply #151 on: 01/04/2014 03:31 PM »
Thanks for that.

However I think you are seriously underestimating the value of having a seismic network.

I'm not doing anything of the sort. I'm not reporting my opinions on this subject, just the facts of the matter. The facts are that the scientific community (via the decadal survey which establishes priorities for the U.S. planetary science program) has decided that a seismic network on the Moon is valuable. It therefore included one as an option for the New Frontiers 5 competition in the early 20s. But the community did not include a Mars seismic network as a priority. If anybody is underestimating the value of a seismic network on Mars it is them, not me. I'm not a scientist and I don't have an opinion on this subject.

Because a Mars seismic network is not in the decadal survey, the only way that a seismic sensor is getting to Mars is because it won in the Discovery competition.

Now a Mars seismic network was included as one of the possibilities in the NOSSE report in 2007 and therefore was a possible mission to compete for New Frontiers 3 (which selected OSIRIS-REx instead). Indeed, Bruce Banerdt was trying to develop a Mars seismic network mission proposal called Cerebrus to compete for NF3. However, JPL decided not to compete Cerebrus for NF3. (I don't know why, but my guess is that they determined that it could not be done within the cost cap. Banerdt gets high marks in my book for even talking about Cerebrus. Lots of scientists come up with mission proposals and when they lose, they don't tell anybody about them. I think that hurts the community. But Banerdt was willing to say "I tried, I lost in the first step, here's what I was trying to do." I'm glad he got a chance with InSight because I think he's a good guy.)

Now we can all hope that InSight gets to Mars successfully and operates forever. If it is still operating in the 20s, and particularly if it discovers interesting seismic activity on Mars, there might be incentive for putting more sensors on the surface. Maybe they will be carried along with other payloads. Maybe in 2028 InSight will be just one node among several in a Mars seismic network. But right now there are no plans for a seismic network on Mars.

Offline Star One

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The InSight Mission to Mars General Thread
« Reply #152 on: 01/04/2014 04:28 PM »
Thanks for that.

However I think you are seriously underestimating the value of having a seismic network.

One seismic station tells you that there are earthquakes, that is about all. 

Two seismic stations will give approximate distance and therefore an approximate position.  It will also allow depth determination.

Three will triangulate position, provide good depth information, and allow measurement of the properties and structure of the martian interior.|

We currently only have such data for Earth and the Moon.  Mars is the only other body in the solar system we are likely to get such data for any time in the next century.  These data will not only tell us about Mars, but also how planets evolve.

Are these more important than some of the other options?  I don't know.  But they are important and sooner or later they will be flown.

There are missions some of which Blackstar has outlined above that are of considerably more scientific importance than what you are outlining here. No one is going to waste the time and money on what you are proposing at this point in time I can assure you.
« Last Edit: 01/04/2014 04:31 PM by Star One »

Offline vjkane

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Re: The InSight Mission to Mars General Thread
« Reply #153 on: 01/04/2014 05:14 PM »
I reviewed the Decadal Survey report.  There were a couple of options for two station implementations that would fit within a New Frontiers cost cap.  Three stations busted the cost cap.

The analysis of the Mars option at the end of the main report stated that a Mars mission would produce good science and fit within the cap.  However, the Mars missions selected by the Survey (i.e., the Flagship caching rover) filled up the Mars mission bucket.  Since geophysics was still a high priority, the lunar network (which is projected to be cheaper for each station) got the nod as the only other world where a seismic network would be placed within a New Frontiers cost cap.

Offline Blackstar

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Re: The InSight Mission to Mars General Thread
« Reply #154 on: 01/04/2014 05:31 PM »
The analysis of the Mars option at the end of the main report stated that a Mars mission would produce good science and fit within the cap.  However, the Mars missions selected by the Survey (i.e., the Flagship caching rover) filled up the Mars mission bucket.  Since geophysics was still a high priority, the lunar network (which is projected to be cheaper for each station) got the nod as the only other world where a seismic network would be placed within a New Frontiers cost cap.

There was some tactical decision making with all of that. Essentially the Mars panel made a decision that they needed to send a clear message that sample return was their highest priority, and they decided to not argue for any Mars New Frontiers missions as a result. It was a way of sending an unambiguous message. (I wasn't in all those discussions because the Mars panel was not my responsibility.) I wouldn't say that decision was universal--there were some people who thought that there are useful NF class Mars missions to do--but you have to make trade-offs and compromises. They decided that sample return was so important that they gave up their NF choices. All or nothing.

(If you think this out, you can see a lot of potential ramifications, both good and bad. I think that at least some people reasoned that if there was indeed a Mars NF option, that would give NASA/OMB an excuse to not do the flagship caching rover and instead select the Mars NF mission independent of New Frontiers, thereby messing up the NF program in the process. Had there been a Mars NF choice, that might have happened in 2012 when the administration was clearly looking for a Mars mission that was not MAX-C. So maybe the Mars panel actually made the right decision.)

Of the possible NF missions, a lunar geophysical network is a possibility for NF #5. I suspect that its chances are limited because it will be a new entrant, whereas the missions that win New Frontiers (and Discovery, for that matter) tend to be missions that lost in a previous round and were improved and resubmitted. My guess is that for NF #4 the winner will either be a Venus mission or lunar sample return, both of which lost in the last round. (Comet cryo is also a contender, but that's a tougher mission to keep in the cost cap. The other options are all new ones, although I could see a Trojan tour being relatively easier to get inside the cost cap.)

Offline vjkane

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Re: The InSight Mission to Mars General Thread
« Reply #155 on: 01/04/2014 07:49 PM »
Of the possible NF missions, a lunar geophysical network is a possibility for NF #5. I suspect that its chances are limited because it will be a new entrant, whereas the missions that win New Frontiers (and Discovery, for that matter) tend to be missions that lost in a previous round and were improved and resubmitted. My guess is that for NF #4 the winner will either be a Venus mission or lunar sample return, both of which lost in the last round. (Comet cryo is also a contender, but that's a tougher mission to keep in the cost cap. The other options are all new ones, although I could see a Trojan tour being relatively easier to get inside the cost cap.)
The NF #4 mission lunar sample may need to compete against the Chinese.  Their Chang'e 5 & 6 sample return missions include relay orbiters, so they could easily sample the Aitken basin.  Given that the solar system is large and the number of missions by all space agencies is small, I hope they do and NASA can go elsewhere.

I've run roadmap exercises with $Bs in investment costs and $10Bs in revenues at stake (high tech industry).  It was exactly the type of framing questions that Blackstar discusses that limited the options (for good or bad) that were studied.  I'd have preferred that the Survey called for a terrestrial world geophysical network and let the proposers decide on the moon vs Mars (especially once we have InSight results back).  Same for the outer planets.  Uranus was studied as a flagship, and so the science tradeoff of a New Frontiers Saturn vs. Uranus mission weren't compared.  I'd prefer that the Survey left it as an outer planets probe mission since the science from any (even Jupiter if someone finds a magic wand to recreate the test facilities) would be equally compelling.

The comet sample return requirements don't appear to be crisp in terms of cooling.  The mission study was a summary of an earlier study (2007) and the final report just says preserve at least some volatiles.  Blackstar, any more insight into this?

Offline Blackstar

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Re: The InSight Mission to Mars General Thread
« Reply #156 on: 01/04/2014 10:03 PM »
1-The NF #4 mission lunar sample may need to compete against the Chinese.  Their Chang'e 5 & 6 sample return missions include relay orbiters, so they could easily sample the Aitken basin.  Given that the solar system is large and the number of missions by all space agencies is small, I hope they do and NASA can go elsewhere.

2-Uranus was studied as a flagship, and so the science tradeoff of a New Frontiers Saturn vs. Uranus mission weren't compared.  I'd prefer that the Survey left it as an outer planets probe mission since the science from any (even Jupiter if someone finds a magic wand to recreate the test facilities) would be equally compelling.

3-The comet sample return requirements don't appear to be crisp in terms of cooling.  The mission study was a summary of an earlier study (2007) and the final report just says preserve at least some volatiles.  Blackstar, any more insight into this?

1-Yes, China might do this instead of NASA. I'm not sure that they will. And I'm not sure that they will before the next NF round (which should be around 2016 or so).

2-That's not really correct. The gas giants panel did consider New Frontiers at Uranus (or Neptune, although the Neptune trajectories are not good). That would have been a flyby and they considered the science return too low for the cost. You mention "probe" and I'm not sure if you mean atmospheric probe, but they didn't want one for Jupiter, they wanted it for Saturn. And I'm sure that it is impossible to do for Uranus or Neptune unless it is deployed from an orbiter.

Reta Beebe was the advocate for the Saturn atmosphere probe, if I remember. She went and collaborated with the JPL people to come up with a mission design. They tried and tried, but they could not get that mission to come in under $1 billion. She said that they were really upset about it, but they just could not do it. The panel stuck it into the decadal survey because they consider the science important, and because they hold out hope that there might be a smart scientist out there who might come up with a way to do a Saturn atmosphere probe cheaper and squeeze it into the cost cap. Their idol in this is Scott Bolton, who found a way to do Juno even though the original requirement was for atmospheric probe(s), which would have put him over the cost cap. People essentially said "Maybe there's another Scott Bolton out there with a clever solution that we have not thought of."

I don't know why it could not come in under $1 billion. After all, it's a pretty simple spacecraft. However, transit times alone increase costs (you spend a lot of money simply waiting to arrive at the target). And this was also consistent with some studies done around 2006 that all concluded that you can get to Jupiter for under a billion dollars, but you cannot get to Saturn for under a billion dollars, even if all you are doing is shooting a brick out there. The economics work against it.

3-I don't remember the details, but the overall gist of their work was that they knew that any mission proposal would go through a vigorous review for selection, so they wanted to leave certain things vague enough so that the people doing the review would have some wiggle room. (This is somewhat off the top of my head) so if, for instance, the DS had said "preserve the cryo sample all the way to the Earth's surface" then the review team would assume that the DS meant "preserve ALL of the sample." But if instead the DS said "preserve some of the sample," then this would allow the review team to determine if the proposer had preserved sufficient samples to answer the major science questions. So, for instance, a review team might conclude that it is okay if 90% of the sample melts, but they get a core that is still cryogenically preserved.

All from hazy memory.

I'll repeat what I always say in these things which is that the people who were involved were really good. And although I hate the term, I'll say that they behaved like adults (meaning that sometimes they argued against their own personal or institutional interests, believing that they had to help their field as a whole). They understood that it was impossible to have all the answers, and that they needed to leave enough room for interpretation for the people who would do the real work making these missions happen. That included both NASA officials and program managers as well as scientists and the review teams that select the missions.

For instance, our primitive bodies panel only had around a dozen people on it, covering a range of topics from asteroids to comets to materials to engineering. But at the next NF competition, if there is a comet cryo sample return mission proposed, there will be a review team that is composed of experts on that specific kind of mission, and those people will be smarter and more knowledgeable on that specific subject than the DS primitive bodies panel. So the DS panel didn't want to do anything that might prevent a mission from happening, simply because of their own limitations. Good people.

Offline baldusi

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Re: The InSight Mission to Mars General Thread
« Reply #157 on: 01/04/2014 11:49 PM »
Now that you mention it. When could we get the InSight results? It shoyld arrive by the end of 2016, do main mission by the end of 2018, and thus have the main analysis done just in time for  the 2020 decadal, right? Also, if the lunar seismic network is done as an NF would have been decided. So the 2020 Decadal will have much better information on deciding on doing either a lunar or a martian seismic network.
Secondly, if they keep good records of InSight, thay might be able to actually do the network with very little design effort, if they just send threw or four copies. Who kniws, may be they could bundle them on a Falcon Heavy and even save on the launch.
If I have to say, I think that the siesmic scientists played a masterful hand. Ironically, the only possible competition might be the sample return mission.

Offline vjkane

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Re: The InSight Mission to Mars General Thread
« Reply #158 on: 01/05/2014 03:57 AM »
2-That's not really correct. The gas giants panel did consider New Frontiers at Uranus (or Neptune, although the Neptune trajectories are not good). That would have been a flyby and they considered the science return too low for the cost. You mention "probe" and I'm not sure if you mean atmospheric probe, but they didn't want one for Jupiter, they wanted it for Saturn. And I'm sure that it is impossible to do for Uranus or Neptune unless it is deployed from an orbiter.

I don't know why it could not come in under $1 billion. After all, it's a pretty simple spacecraft. However, transit times alone increase costs (you spend a lot of money simply waiting to arrive at the target). And this was also consistent with some studies done around 2006 that all concluded that you can get to Jupiter for under a billion dollars, but you cannot get to Saturn for under a billion dollars, even if all you are doing is shooting a brick out there. The economics work against it.
I ran a number of roadmap processes for a Fortune 50 high tech company.  (For the larger ones, we could have funded a New Frontiers mission with the engineering investment and funded the Decadal Survey with the profits.)  So much of my interest in the Decadal Survey was just in how they did it and was it well done.  I emphatically say yes on both grounds.

My thoughts about tweaking the Survey are at a single marginal question...the science goals are stable and long lasting but there may still be a better way to skin this cat.  (One of the lesson learned findings after the Survey was that too few missions studies were done, especially for the outer planets.) I really like Venus radar missions and really want a high resolution thermal imager for Titan (not only is my professional work related to mapping, but some of my best friends are geomorphologists).  I don't advocate for those, except to hope that good proposals are made to the Discovery program (if it continues).

Blackstar, you have the insider's track, but the published reports suggest that there was no consideration of a Uranus flyby mission or a Uranus atmospheric probe (with carrier craft) mission only.  There was a Neptune flyby/orbiter study that was done.  The Uranus report stated that a ground rule going into their study was, "Planetary orbit must be achieved with floor payload (not a flyby mission)."

Recent studies continue to suggest that a Uranus atmospheric probe mission could be done from a flyby mission.  Spilker at last summer's IPPW meeting closed his presentation on comparisons of Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune flyby atmospheric probe missions by saying, "In most entry circumstance cases, entry conditions for Uranus or Neptune entries are similar to Saturn conditions."  Spilker led so many of the Saturn probe mission studies that his statements have a lot of credibility with me.  (His presentation also provided supporting details for the conclusion.)

The Decadal Survey said that atmospheric probes for both Saturn and Uranus were high priority, but associated them with different sized mission programs.  If the outer planets science team said that Saturn was higher priority than Uranus regardless of mission cost, then that answers my question.  If Saturn was picked as a New Frontiers candidate only because it was studied as a New Frontiers mission while Uranus wasn't, then this is one of the few open questions in my mind about the Survey's recommendations.

Offline go4mars

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Re: The InSight Mission to Mars General Thread
« Reply #159 on: 01/05/2014 04:48 AM »
Maybe they will be carried along with other payloads.
That's my guess.  Geophones and magnetotellurics should be relatively easy, cheap, low bandwidth, low power, low mass.  I'm not sure who would pay to develop the standardized package, but I see it as low hanging fruit. 

There are missions some of which Blackstar has outlined above that are of considerably more scientific importance than what you are outlining here.
That's your opinion.  Not an intrinsic truth.  I'd pick a Cerebrus-ish mission (at least 3 nodes for source triangulation) over an open-ended sample cache mission.  But that's just my opinion.
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