Author Topic: Cassini and MESSENGER to be shut down?  (Read 5261 times)

Offline Blackstar

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Cassini and MESSENGER to be shut down?
« on: 11/15/2012 01:47 PM »
There's a rumor going around that the initial OMB budget proposal (which goes to NASA, then back to OMB to become the final administration budget) calls for shutting down both Cassini and MESSENGER to save money.

No more details than that. But we may be seeing a repeat of what happened with the Apollo seismic instruments when budget cuts are ending ongoing data collection.

Online kevin-rf

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Re: Cassini and MESSENGER to be shut down?
« Reply #1 on: 11/15/2012 02:11 PM »
How much will that reduce the deficit by again? Shaking a head...
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Offline hektor

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Re: Cassini and MESSENGER to be shut down?
« Reply #2 on: 11/15/2012 02:14 PM »
I think you cannot just shut down Cassini. As with Galileo, you need to conduct operations to destroy it safely.

Offline GClark

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Re: Cassini and MESSENGER to be shut down?
« Reply #3 on: 11/15/2012 04:30 PM »
Maybe OMB knows something about the Planetary Sciences Senior Review that (the existential) we do not.

Have they ever put the results of that out?

Online Ben the Space Brit

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Re: Cassini and MESSENGER to be shut down?
« Reply #4 on: 11/15/2012 04:51 PM »
That would be tragic, short-sighted and entirely in line with modern government priorities.
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Offline Pheogh

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Re: Cassini and MESSENGER to be shut down?
« Reply #5 on: 11/15/2012 04:57 PM »
Is there anyway these can be taken more international. Certainly there would be interest from other governments in supporting these priceless assets?

Online ugordan

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Re: Cassini and MESSENGER to be shut down?
« Reply #6 on: 11/15/2012 05:04 PM »
That would be tragic, short-sighted and entirely in line with modern government priorities.

I agree. This would be tragic, moreso for Cassini (then again, I am more emotionally attached to it).

Is there anyway these can be taken more international.

Cassini already is an international project and that fact actually saved it from cancellation once. Not sure how it would help this time as probably the majority of the operations money is provided by NASA.

Offline Joffan

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Re: Cassini and MESSENGER to be shut down?
« Reply #7 on: 11/15/2012 06:08 PM »
Once spacecraft are at their destination, there is never a good reason to abandon them as long as they're working. Getting explorers like Cassini and Messenger to their destination is way more expensive than operating them, but the operations is where the science return happens.

Perhaps one day, far in the future, we will have a spacecraft that is working but completely superceded by other spacecraft in place. Then it will make sense to turn off operations; but not before.
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Offline Pheogh

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Re: Cassini and MESSENGER to be shut down?
« Reply #8 on: 11/15/2012 06:28 PM »
That would be tragic, short-sighted and entirely in line with modern government priorities.

I agree. This would be tragic, moreso for Cassini (then again, I am more emotionally attached to it).

Is there anyway these can be taken more international.

Cassini already is an international project and that fact actually saved it from cancellation once. Not sure how it would help this time as probably the majority of the operations money is provided by NASA.

what are we talking about here $$$ what kind of money. If Santa Claus were to offer ESA a healthy space probe around Saturn right now, am I to understand they couldn't come up with the money to use it?


Online ugordan

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Re: Cassini and MESSENGER to be shut down?
« Reply #9 on: 11/15/2012 06:33 PM »
what are we talking about here $$$ what kind of money.

Don't know about an exact number, but it's in the millions per year of operations cost. It's a complex spacecraft and many people are involved.

Quote
If Santa Claus were to offer ESA a healthy space probe around Saturn right now, am I to understand they couldn't come up with the money to use it?

Not sure that's even doable as it's a JPL spacecraft.

Offline Jim

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Re: Cassini and MESSENGER to be shut down?
« Reply #10 on: 11/15/2012 06:46 PM »
what are we talking about here $$$ what kind of money. If Santa Claus were to offer ESA a healthy space probe around Saturn right now, am I to understand they couldn't come up with the money to use it?



JPL would still be required to operate it.

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Cassini and MESSENGER to be shut down?
« Reply #11 on: 11/15/2012 06:52 PM »
There's a rumor going around that the initial OMB budget proposal (which goes to NASA, then back to OMB to become the final administration budget) calls for shutting down both Cassini and MESSENGER to save money.

No more details than that. But we may be seeing a repeat of what happened with the Apollo seismic instruments when budget cuts are ending ongoing data collection.
Dumb dumb da-dumb dumb.

This sounds incredibly short-sighted. We have a big, perfectly good spacecraft that spent a heck of a long time getting to its destination, and we can't afford to pay someone to plan its operations and talk to it?

I know operating it can't be that simple, but seriously... How much would it cost, if spread out over a single full-time lead and some grad-students (work for practically minimum wage) and a small amount of DSN (or, heck, ESTRACK) bandwidth?

I just don't understand why we ever turn these guys off when their instruments are still returning useful data and the tanks still have plenty of propellant in them. It costs billions of dollars to send these guys out there and decades to get from conception to arrival at the target. We have no other presence at Saturn, an incredibly diverse and fascinating system that we are still learning new things about all the time.

Heck, amateur reception of Cassini's signals has been demonstrated: http://www.qsl.net/ct1dmk/dsn.html (Even some signal from Voyager 1 was detected...)

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Offline Jim

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Re: Cassini and MESSENGER to be shut down?
« Reply #12 on: 11/15/2012 07:33 PM »
How much would it cost, if spread out over a single full-time lead and some grad-students (work for practically minimum wage) and a small amount of DSN (or, heck, ESTRACK) bandwidth?


1.  This is not a rover.  Grad students don't have the experience to manage flight operations or understand the vehicle systems.

2.  Why bother if there isn't going be bandwith to downlink the data.

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Cassini and MESSENGER to be shut down?
« Reply #13 on: 11/15/2012 08:06 PM »
How much would it cost, if spread out over a single full-time lead and some grad-students (work for practically minimum wage) and a small amount of DSN (or, heck, ESTRACK) bandwidth?


1.  This is not a rover.  Grad students don't have the experience to manage flight operations or understand the vehicle systems.

2.  Why bother if there isn't going be bandwith to downlink the data.
1) Granted. But how much needs to be understood?
2) Cut it down to one-tenth or one-twentieth, and the amount of science that can be done isn't reduced proportionally. If it is reduced, it's probably more logarithmically. You may get only one third or one fourth as much useful scientific results from 10% or 5% as much data, but at far less cost.
« Last Edit: 11/15/2012 08:06 PM by Robotbeat »
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Online woods170

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Re: Cassini and MESSENGER to be shut down?
« Reply #14 on: 11/15/2012 08:10 PM »
That would be tragic, short-sighted and entirely in line with modern government priorities.
Not just modern government priorities. Back in 1976 the operation of the first Dutch satellite ANS was prematurely shut down for the very same reason: To save a few lousy bucks. This despite the satellite being in perfect working order.

Offline Jim

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Re: Cassini and MESSENGER to be shut down?
« Reply #15 on: 11/15/2012 08:42 PM »
1) Granted. But how much needs to be understood?


A lot.  It is not in LEO, it is in a constantly changing orbit with flybys of moons.  It also is a very complex spacecraft

Online kevin-rf

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Re: Cassini and MESSENGER to be shut down?
« Reply #16 on: 11/16/2012 12:46 PM »
The real answer is there is no free lunch, and in the short sighted view of cost accounting the program is assigned the full cost of the resources it uses, people, ground stations, ect. Hand waving saying it can piggy back on these resources is dishonest to the others who share the resources. It costs what it costs and someone has to pay the bills, would you rather steal the money from other programs to make it look cheaper?
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Offline Blackstar

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Re: Cassini and MESSENGER to be shut down?
« Reply #17 on: 11/16/2012 12:52 PM »
I know operating it can't be that simple, but seriously... How much would it cost, if spread out over a single full-time lead and some grad-students (work for practically minimum wage) and a small amount of DSN (or, heck, ESTRACK) bandwidth?

Operating costs are in the tens of millions of dollars. They start to add up when you have a dozen operating planetary spacecraft.

Offline Blackstar

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Re: Cassini and MESSENGER to be shut down?
« Reply #18 on: 11/16/2012 12:55 PM »
It's also worth noting--I failed to note this--that both spacecraft are in their extended mission phases. So the beancounters may be looking at them and saying that they've accomplished their primary missions, so there is diminishing return on keeping them operating.

There is a legitimate issue there, but it's complicated. There are some things that you can only do, or are only willing to do, late in a mission. For instance, they take greater risks with Cassini now than they did at the beginning of the mission, do closer flybys, etc. And orbital dynamics change so that some things are possible after many orbits around Saturn that were not possible earlier.

Offline Blackstar

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Re: Cassini and MESSENGER to be shut down?
« Reply #19 on: 11/16/2012 12:56 PM »
Maybe OMB knows something about the Planetary Sciences Senior Review that (the existential) we do not.

Have they ever put the results of that out?


I have not heard of a senior review done on this. And if it was done, it would be public--there'd be no way to keep it quiet.

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