Author Topic: Is NASA Addicted to Mars?  (Read 11491 times)

Offline Star One

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Is NASA Addicted to Mars?
« on: 08/21/2012 04:26 PM »
Thread title taken from the first article linked to.

http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2012/08/insight-mars-probe/

But I was interested to see that the choice of the InSight mission has gone down too well in some quarters. See the comments on the second link.

http://www.space.com/17195-nasa-mars-landing-mission-2016-launch.html

Lots of accusations here including that this mission was picked for the sake of JPL and that JPL is full of Mars Scientists, that NASA's leadership is obsessed with Mars & stuff that goes on like that. Not saying that I agree with any of these but itís interesting to see peoplesí views on the matter.

All I will say for myself is that I believe that as Mars has its own exploration budget that it should be barred from areas such as the Discovery missions, which I think it was at one point.

I don't think NASA is addicted to Mars but it sometimes feels like there is a lot of focus on one planet.

Offline Jim

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Re: Is NASA Addicted to Mars?
« Reply #1 on: 08/21/2012 04:47 PM »
All I will say for myself is that I believe that as Mars has its own exploration budget

Not anymore

Offline Danderman

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Re: Is NASA Addicted to Mars?
« Reply #2 on: 08/21/2012 04:53 PM »
Reality is that the Mars budget has been drastically reduced, so any "fixation" by NASA on Mars isn't funded.


Offline Star One

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Re: Is NASA Addicted to Mars?
« Reply #3 on: 08/21/2012 06:46 PM »
All I will say for myself is that I believe that as Mars has its own exploration budget

Not anymore

It was my understanding that it hadn't completely gone just greatly reduced. Anyway following the success so far of MSL they should be capitalising on this in the political arena and fighting for an increase in the budget.

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Is NASA Addicted to Mars?
« Reply #4 on: 08/21/2012 07:27 PM »
Lots of space enthusiasts are quite addicted to other places, so get upset when others are chosen.

The fact is that there is an entire solar system out there. NASA could pick any of those missions and get a good return. But a mission to Mars using an existing platform is much less risky and probably can get to the point where it's returning data sooner than the other proposals, which is also an important consideration.

I personally hope we can get another surface mission to Titan. So weird and cool.
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Offline Warren Platts

Re: Is NASA Addicted to Mars?
« Reply #5 on: 08/21/2012 07:42 PM »
Quote
The NASA Administrator has directed the Associate Administrator for the Science Mission Directorate (AA/SMD) to lead Mars program reformulation activities working with the Associate Administrator for Human Exploration and Operations Directorate (HEOMD), the NASA Chief Technologist (OCT), and the NASA Chief Scientist (OCS).

 Read more
The purpose of the Mars Program Planning Group (MPPG) is to develop foundations for a program-≠‐level architecture for robotic exploration of Mars that is consistent with the Presidentís challenge of sending humans to Mars in the decade of the 2030s, yet remain responsive to the primary scientific goals of the 2011 NRC Decadal Survey for Planetary Science.

http://www.nasa.gov/offices/marsplanning/home/index.html

Basically, Mars is getting the Moon treatment. In other words, Mars is now in the HSF bailiwick. Future robot missions will be designated "robotic precursors". The money will come out of the Exploration Directorate. This could be either good or bad depending on your perspective.


"When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return."--Leonardo Da Vinci

Offline JohnFornaro

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Re: Is NASA Addicted to Mars?
« Reply #6 on: 08/21/2012 08:06 PM »
All I will say for myself is that I believe that as Mars has its own exploration budget

Not anymore

It was my understanding that it hadn't completely gone just greatly reduced. Anyway following the success so far of MSL they should be capitalising on this in the political arena and fighting for an increase in the budget.

They are.  Rep. Adam Schiff is fighting for MSR.
Sometimes I just flat out don't get it.

Offline butters

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Re: Is NASA Addicted to Mars?
« Reply #7 on: 08/21/2012 08:08 PM »
JPL has built a team that really knows how to do Mars exploration. This expertise exists nowhere else in the world, and it will dissipate if we don't keep at it, at least once every three launch windows.

NASA didn't attempt any Mars missions between 1975 and 1992, and it's no surprise that NASA suffered a 1/5 success rate on Mars missions in the 1990s. We let our competency slip away. We stopped going to Mars, just like we stopped going to the moon, and it isn't easy to get back in the game.

I'd very much like to see NASA take on new worlds like Titan, but space exploration is a cumulative endeavor. We have to take on new challenges in addition to our existing competencies. We can't just move on to the next thing and write it off as been-there-done-that.

Offline Star One

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Re: Is NASA Addicted to Mars?
« Reply #8 on: 08/21/2012 09:41 PM »
Lots of space enthusiasts are quite addicted to other places, so get upset when others are chosen.

The fact is that there is an entire solar system out there. NASA could pick any of those missions and get a good return. But a mission to Mars using an existing platform is much less risky and probably can get to the point where it's returning data sooner than the other proposals, which is also an important consideration.

I personally hope we can get another surface mission to Titan. So weird and cool.

I understand the reasoning and arguments as to why Mars is being prioritised at this time over the outer solar system but it doesn't stop it being disappointing on a personal level.

I really hope that the next Discovery mission is to beyond Mars as otherwise once Cassini finishes in 2017 that will be it.

Offline Dalhousie

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Re: Is NASA Addicted to Mars?
« Reply #9 on: 08/21/2012 09:46 PM »
Quote from: Robotbeat I really hope that the next Discovery mission is to beyond Mars as otherwise once Cassini finishes in 2017 that will be it.
[/quote

Juno
"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 Star One

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Re: Is NASA Addicted to Mars?
« Reply #10 on: 08/21/2012 09:52 PM »
Quote from: Robotbeat I really hope that the next Discovery mission is to beyond Mars as otherwise once Cassini finishes in 2017 that will be it.
[/quote

Juno

As far as I am aware Juno completes in October 2017.
« Last Edit: 08/21/2012 09:56 PM by Star One »

Offline brihath

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Re: Is NASA Addicted to Mars?
« Reply #11 on: 08/21/2012 10:01 PM »
I don't know how you can state that NASA is addicted to Mars.  InSight is the 12th Discovery Class Mission.  Only one other Discovery Class Mission went to Mars, and that was the Mars Pathfinder mission 15 years ago.  In terms of larger missions, there were four to Mars, the 2 MER Missions, the Phoenix Lander and the MSL.

When it comes to a comprehensive space exploration, we are doing Mars right, with a coordinated effort to study the planet from orbit and on the surface.  As it is probably the most likely target for a human mission, we at least will have a comprehensive understanding of the planet before we get there.

This has not been at the expense of other missions, including the Mercury Messenger, Magellan to Venus, Cassini to Saturn, Huygens to Titan, Galileo to Jupiter, the Voyagers to Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune, and New Horizons to Pluto.

Offline Zed_Noir

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Re: Is NASA Addicted to Mars?
« Reply #12 on: 08/21/2012 11:06 PM »
With the exception of the New Horizons mission to Pluto. I don't see any other new or ongoing NASA missions to the planets other than Mars after 2017 announced.

Offline savuporo

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Re: Is NASA Addicted to Mars?
« Reply #13 on: 08/22/2012 12:35 AM »
To answer the question of the thread - yes. Numbers speak for themselves.

To keep this in perspective, the last time anything landed on the Moon was 1976, and it wasn't US. Next one wont be either, and probably the next one after that.
« Last Edit: 08/22/2012 12:37 AM by savuporo »
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Offline Dalhousie

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Re: Is NASA Addicted to Mars?
« Reply #14 on: 08/22/2012 01:05 AM »
Quote from: Robotbeat I really hope that the next Discovery mission is to beyond Mars as otherwise once Cassini finishes in 2017 that will be it.
[/quote

Juno

As far as I am aware Juno completes in October 2017.

Extended mission?
"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 GClark

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Re: Is NASA Addicted to Mars?
« Reply #15 on: 08/22/2012 01:29 AM »
Juno ends with a dive into Jupiters' atmosphere.  This is deliberate, as the electronics will be pretty near fried by that point.

The only other PSD mission we have in the pipeline going somewhere other than Mars would be OSIRIS-REx.  In SMD as a whole, there is also Solar Probe + which will make a series of targeted Venus flybys to pump down its' orbit.  Add in LADEE, EM-1, & EM-2 and that's it for the time being.

Offline Proponent

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Re: Is NASA Addicted to Mars?
« Reply #16 on: 08/22/2012 02:41 AM »
If we interpret this thread's title broadly enough to include human missions to Mars, then the attached paper in which JPL's Brent Sherwood argues that the HSF program has an unhealthy fixation on Mars is relevant.

Offline Warren Platts

Re: Is NASA Addicted to Mars?
« Reply #17 on: 08/22/2012 04:15 AM »
To answer the question of the thread - yes. Numbers speak for themselves.

To keep this in perspective, the last time anything landed on the Moon was 1976, and it wasn't US. Next one wont be either, and probably the next one after that.

I would have to agree. Haven't there been like something like 20 successful missions to the Red Planet? I like Mars as much as the next guy--obviously it's a very cool place--but it has been done to death. More of the same in terms of rovers and orbiters is only going to deliver more of the same. To really take it to the next level IMO would be a serious manned exploration program. IMO, that would require the support of a permanently manned research station, with ISRU, the whole nine yards. Apollo on Steroids is not that.
« Last Edit: 08/22/2012 04:18 AM by Warren Platts »
"When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return."--Leonardo Da Vinci

Offline go4mars

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Re: Is NASA Addicted to Mars?
« Reply #18 on: 08/22/2012 04:39 AM »
Yes.  It's addicting.  It's relatively close.  It captured your great-grandaddy's imagination too.  You can take your kid outside and point to the reddish one.  It can be terraformed (and dare I say inhabited) most easily of available options, and it probably will be at some point. 

As an imperfect analogy, if you are an oil company trying to understand a geological formation on earth, the cheapest and most effective way to do it is to drill drill drill (witha big budget for the science tools).  Get your team of PhD geologists a big budget that they must spend, and keep at it while everyone is engaged and striving.  Sustain it.  Reward widely applicable cost-cutting ideas.  To add in another: strike while the iron is hot...   

The most expensive way is to re-start and cancel a characterization program every few years.  I've seen both ways done in oil and gas. 

I wish there were enough additional budget for assembly lines of probes to various planets, moons, and beyond (kuiper, oort, etc.), and within (sun and its porch).  But if NASA must be addicted to something, Mars is a good choice for an addiction. 

But my moniker gives away my bias. 
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Offline Warren Platts

Re: Is NASA Addicted to Mars?
« Reply #19 on: 08/22/2012 05:10 AM »
As an imperfect analogy, if you are an oil company trying to understand a geological formation on earth, the cheapest and most effective way to do it is to ... [1] Get your team of PhD geologists a big budget that they must spend, and ... [2] strike while the iron is hot...   

lol! Now that is a contradiction if I ever heard one! ;)
"When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return."--Leonardo Da Vinci

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