Author Topic: Further Mars seismology and/or heat flow missions?  (Read 7057 times)

Offline redliox

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Although I asked similar before, but what's the best bet for an Insight sequel thus far?
« Last Edit: 01/04/2023 08:36 pm by zubenelgenubi »
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Offline Steve G

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Re: Further Mars seismology and/or heat flow missions?
« Reply #1 on: 01/01/2023 09:58 pm »
It would have to come with a proper drill for the heat probe. The seismometer was great, and if they want a mission longer than two years, a mechanism for cleaning the solar panels. It wouldn't be a sequel. It would be a reimagined series. An entire new, heavier spacecraft, or, a network of three to four simplified spacecraft focusing on seismology. Right now, the focus is on sample return, and somehow getting the European lander on the surface, so I don't see a sequel any time soon.

Offline vjkane

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Re: Further Mars seismology and/or heat flow missions?
« Reply #2 on: 01/02/2023 04:21 am »
An excellent video post from Mars Guy on dust devils and solar panel cleaning. Hint: you want to land in regions that look dark from orbit.


Offline Phil Stooke

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Re: Further Mars seismology and/or heat flow missions?
« Reply #3 on: 01/02/2023 06:24 am »
Those dark areas are swept clean of bright dust so that makes sense.  Unfortunately it also increases wind-generated noise, so it's not a simple solution.  Also I know from discussions with Matt Golombek on this point, the available areas for landing on this mission were extremely limited.  Low elevations were necessary for EDL and there was a narrow latitude band with suitable illumination (avoiding areas where larger seasonal temperature swings complicate the heat flow analysis, and retaining enough power for winter operations).  In fact in the original survey the latitude band was too narrow and no sites could be found, but when it was expanded a bit a low area became available.  There were literally no other areas suitable for this specific mission when all factors were taken into account (elevation, illumination and suitable geology and surface properties).  A future mission to a windier area cannot be a clone of InSight.

Offline Blackstar

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Re: Further Mars seismology and/or heat flow missions?
« Reply #4 on: 01/02/2023 08:20 pm »
Although I asked similar before, but what's the best bet for an Insight sequel thus far?

InSight is a scaled-down version of a proposal called Cerberus. I think I posted about that somewhere on this site. That proposal was to land three seismic sensors, but it was too expensive. I think that any follow-on to InSight would involve more sensors, dispersed to more locations. Ideally, you want three of them, with at least one on the other side of the planet.

I'm not very familiar with this whole subject area, but the goal of having multiple sensors on either the Moon or Mars is that it enables you to get a kind of 3D image of the interior. It's a variation on sonar, with the sound/seismic waves being generated inside the planet. I think that InSight had very limited capability to do this and was primarily an instrument to determine how seismically active Mars is, so the interior composition questions are still unanswered and that's what somebody will want to go after.

Multiple landers is expensive.
« Last Edit: 01/03/2023 04:03 pm by Blackstar »

Offline deadman1204

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Re: Further Mars seismology and/or heat flow missions?
« Reply #5 on: 01/03/2023 02:18 pm »
Although I asked similar before, but what's the best bet for an Insight sequel thus far?
Didn't NASA say something about how a mission like insight isn't gonna happen again? Since it was a discovery mission, but with foreign contributions, it cost WAY more than that, and the added complexity of putting the larger than budgeted mission together caused alot of headaches?

While they didn't mean another mission that does what insight does, would an upgraded version of insight not fall in the discovery class anymore?

Offline Blackstar

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Re: Further Mars seismology and/or heat flow missions?
« Reply #6 on: 01/03/2023 04:05 pm »
Although I asked similar before, but what's the best bet for an Insight sequel thus far?
Didn't NASA say something about how a mission like insight isn't gonna happen again? Since it was a discovery mission, but with foreign contributions, it cost WAY more than that, and the added complexity of putting the larger than budgeted mission together caused alot of headaches?

While they didn't mean another mission that does what insight does, would an upgraded version of insight not fall in the discovery class anymore?

That's an implementation issue, not a science issue. The solution is "don't do that again."

The science still remains a priority. Seismologists in general would like this data from either Mars or the Moon (of course, they'd like both). I think (and I'm going deep into memory here) that the basic issue is that we have good info on the interior of the Earth, but no other body in the solar system. So they want another body for comparison. If a lunar seismology mission gets selected and done, it will take off pressure for doing another similar mission at Mars.
« Last Edit: 01/03/2023 04:09 pm by Blackstar »

Offline vjkane

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Re: Further Mars seismology and/or heat flow missions?
« Reply #7 on: 01/03/2023 05:51 pm »
Although I asked similar before, but what's the best bet for an Insight sequel thus far?

InSight is a scaled-down version of a proposal called Cerberus. I think I posted about that somewhere on this site. That proposal was to land three seismic sensors, but it was too expensive. I think that any follow-on to InSight would involve more sensors.

I'm not very familiar with this whole subject area, but the goal of having multiple sensors on either the Moon or Mars is that it enables you to get a kind of 3D image of the interior. It's a variation on sonar, with the sound/seismic waves being generated inside the planet. I think that InSight had very limited capability to do this and was primarily an instrument to determine how seismically active Mars is, so the interior composition questions are still unanswered and that's what somebody will want to go after.

Multiple landers is expensive.
There have been many proposals going decades for networks of seismometers on Mars. InSight followed a proposal (I believe for the 2012 Decadal Survey, but memory may serve me wrong) for a New Frontiers-class two lander mission based on the Phoenix lander design. As Blackstar points out, multiple landers are expensive, and Mars geophysical missions were not prioritized for the New Frontiers lander. So, we got a single InSight lander (based on the Phoenix lander design) that was affordable in the Discovery program*. As I understand it, the seismometer that was flown was so sensitive that it was able with a single lander to fulfill many of the goals originally thought to require multiple landers. (*Because of an instrument problem, InSight's launch was delayed, and paying for that slip did bust the Discovery program budget.)

Offline edzieba

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Re: Further Mars seismology and/or heat flow missions?
« Reply #8 on: 01/03/2023 05:57 pm »
From what I can find of the Cerberus proposal, it involved seismometers thousands of km apart, hence the separate landers. That probably makes it infeasible for a single-lander mission using a rover to deposit them, the mass is well above even what the proposed Mars Science Hexacopter could transport, and the spread is beyond what could be achieved packing multiple sub-landers within a single aeroshell. Miniaturisation and a more streamlined lander (seismometer only, no other experimentation) could reduce the mass and allow multiple landers per launch rather than multiple launches, but that then adds the cost of developing a new compact EDL system rather than re-using an existing one.
Without budgeting a 'new generation' of even more compact Mars entry system (as Pathfinder's became for MER, Phoenix, and Insight) the other potential avenue is partnership with the ESA for duplicates of whatever Kazachok replacement they develop, but that seems even less likely given that the whole Kazachok situation occurred due to NASA being pulled out of MEJI and other Mars partnerships like MAX-C due to budget issues.

Offline ccdengr

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Re: Further Mars seismology and/or heat flow missions?
« Reply #9 on: 01/03/2023 06:07 pm »
Insight was sold on being able to do a wide range of science with one-station seismometry, and being able to sell doing another mission with current budget constraints is very unlikely.  At a minimum we need to wait for the team to write their final papers, AFAIK there hasn't been a summary of results since https://www.nature.com/articles/s41561-020-0544-y and this was before seeing the big impact events that produce the best science.
https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/science.abq7157

Offline Blackstar

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Re: Further Mars seismology and/or heat flow missions?
« Reply #10 on: 01/03/2023 06:36 pm »
There have been many proposals going decades for networks of seismometers on Mars. InSight followed a proposal (I believe for the 2012 Decadal Survey, but memory may serve me wrong) for a New Frontiers-class two lander mission based on the Phoenix lander design. As Blackstar points out, multiple landers are expensive, and Mars geophysical missions were not prioritized for the New Frontiers lander. So, we got a single InSight lander (based on the Phoenix lander design) that was affordable in the Discovery program*. As I understand it, the seismometer that was flown was so sensitive that it was able with a single lander to fulfill many of the goals originally thought to require multiple landers. (*Because of an instrument problem, InSight's launch was delayed, and paying for that slip did bust the Discovery program budget.)

So there's a lot of context that is necessary to understand this stuff, and vjkane has touched on some of it. But when it came to Mars, there were two subjects that Mars scientists said were "important" for 40 years but did not do much about--they were aeronymy and seismology. MAVEN has now done the former, and InSight has now done the latter.

Now the risk to those communities is that the rest of the Mars science community may say "There! You got your missions, now be quiet." However, the things those missions discovered could also result in increasing interest in and pressure for future missions (or instruments) that do those things.

As I noted up-stream, many of the planetary seismology community's interests may also be satisfied by a multi-site network of seismic instruments on the Moon. So the answer to "what next after InSight?" could be "seismology network on the Moon." It could equally be "don't do anything for the next three decades because other stuff is more interesting."


Offline Zed_Noir

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Re: Further Mars seismology and/or heat flow missions?
« Reply #11 on: 01/03/2023 08:09 pm »
From what I can find of the Cerberus proposal, it involved seismometers thousands of km apart, hence the separate landers. That probably makes it infeasible for a single-lander mission using a rover to deposit them, the mass is well above even what the proposed Mars Science Hexacopter could transport, and the spread is beyond what could be achieved packing multiple sub-landers within a single aeroshell. Miniaturisation and a more streamlined lander (seismometer only, no other experimentation) could reduce the mass and allow multiple landers per launch rather than multiple launches, but that then adds the cost of developing a new compact EDL system rather than re-using an existing one.
<snip>
Use a really big launcher to packed multiple Insight size landers in an interplanetary  transit bus. That option might be available in a few years.

Of course that requires enough budget to build multiple Insight size landers with just a seismograph each.

Might be possible to add a Mars orbital relay comsat to the transit bus to share the launch cost if NASA & International partners have a need for increase communication bandwidth for the future.

Offline vjkane

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Re: Further Mars seismology and/or heat flow missions?
« Reply #12 on: 01/04/2023 12:53 am »
Use a really big launcher to packed multiple Insight size landers in an interplanetary  transit bus. That option might be available in a few years.
I expect that if the launcher were free, it wouldn't matter. Instruments, spacecraft, and operations are much more expensive.

Launchers have the advantage that they can be built on an assembly line. Despite many attempts, planetary spacecraft aren't numerous enough, and their specific requirements are unique enough, that they are craft built. Largely the same for the instruments.

The Psyche spacecraft was a modification of an Earth orbiting satellite design. One of the conclusions of the Psyche review board is that the mission plan didn't take into account how many modifications would be needed for a deep space mission.

Online DanClemmensen

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Re: Further Mars seismology and/or heat flow missions?
« Reply #13 on: 01/04/2023 12:59 am »
Use a really big launcher to packed multiple Insight size landers in an interplanetary  transit bus. That option might be available in a few years.
I expect that if the launcher were free, it wouldn't matter. Instruments, spacecraft, and operations are much more expensive.

Launchers have the advantage that they can be built on an assembly line. Despite many attempts, planetary spacecraft aren't numerous enough, and their specific requirements are unique enough, that they are craft built. Largely the same for the instruments.

The Psyche spacecraft was a modification of an Earth orbiting satellite design. One of the conclusions of the Psyche review board is that the mission plan didn't take into account how many modifications would be needed for a deep space mission.
But this specific proposal is for a set of identical landers, so they will in fact be build on an assembly line.

The other advantage of cheaper launch is to allow heavier landers, which relieves a major design constraint and may possibly allow cheaper instruments with the same capabilities.

Offline Blackstar

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Re: Further Mars seismology and/or heat flow missions?
« Reply #14 on: 01/04/2023 01:40 am »
Use a really big launcher to packed multiple Insight size landers in an interplanetary  transit bus. That option might be available in a few years.
I expect that if the launcher were free, it wouldn't matter. Instruments, spacecraft, and operations are much more expensive.

Launchers have the advantage that they can be built on an assembly line. Despite many attempts, planetary spacecraft aren't numerous enough, and their specific requirements are unique enough, that they are craft built. Largely the same for the instruments.

The Psyche spacecraft was a modification of an Earth orbiting satellite design. One of the conclusions of the Psyche review board is that the mission plan didn't take into account how many modifications would be needed for a deep space mission.
But this specific proposal is for a set of identical landers, so they will in fact be build on an assembly line.

The other advantage of cheaper launch is to allow heavier landers, which relieves a major design constraint and may possibly allow cheaper instruments with the same capabilities.



Isn't it fun to pour our big box of Legos onto the floor and start building our own spaceships?!

Things don't work the way you wrote. Two spacecraft is not "an assembly line," and there's this ridiculous assumption that if you back off the mass constraints, the spacecraft gets cheaper. The instruments are expensive because they are sophisticated. They are sophisticated not because they have to be low mass. They are sophisticated because they are sophisticated.


Offline edzieba

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Re: Further Mars seismology and/or heat flow missions?
« Reply #15 on: 01/04/2023 11:25 am »
What constraints would prevent seismometers being piggybacked onto other landers, and are any of them dealbreakers? Off the top of my head:

- Mechanical isolation required from the host vehicle. That means hosts either need an arm already, need to have budget and mass for an arm be folded into the seismometer package, or the seismometer be 'self deploying' (e.g. minimal roving capability to move itself off the host lander and play out its own tether).

- Host power and data requirements. The seismometer was kept running for quite a long portion of InSight's extreme low power operations, so power does not seem an issue. Bandwidth requirements also seem fairly low (IIRC ~5MByte/day for SEIS).

- Geological suitability of landing sites. This seems the kicker: if the host lander is going somewhere where the seismometer isn't going to work well (e.g. somewhere very sandy) it's not worth even sending the seismometer. If there is no overlap between sites other missions want to visit and sites required for good seismology, the piggyback concept is no good.

- Geodetic suitability of landing sites. More of a data quality issue, but if everyone wants to send their future missions to the same region of Mars, that does not provide the same sort of capability to probe the interior as seismometers spread out around the planet.

- Lack of a stationary host lander. MSL and M2020 both would be unsuitable to leave anything other than a fully self-contained (power plus comms) seismometer due to not having a stationary landing component, and that drives up the cost and mass of any piggyback. The more specialised accommodation a piggyback payload needs to each mission, the more expensive those piggybacks become vs. the compromises of not being a dedicated mission.

Offline deadman1204

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Re: Further Mars seismology and/or heat flow missions?
« Reply #16 on: 01/04/2023 02:30 pm »
From what I can find of the Cerberus proposal, it involved seismometers thousands of km apart, hence the separate landers. That probably makes it infeasible for a single-lander mission using a rover to deposit them, the mass is well above even what the proposed Mars Science Hexacopter could transport, and the spread is beyond what could be achieved packing multiple sub-landers within a single aeroshell. Miniaturisation and a more streamlined lander (seismometer only, no other experimentation) could reduce the mass and allow multiple landers per launch rather than multiple launches, but that then adds the cost of developing a new compact EDL system rather than re-using an existing one.
<snip>
Use a really big launcher to packed multiple Insight size landers in an interplanetary  transit bus. That option might be available in a few years.

Of course that requires enough budget to build multiple Insight size landers with just a seismograph each.

Might be possible to add a Mars orbital relay comsat to the transit bus to share the launch cost if NASA & International partners have a need for increase communication bandwidth for the future.
The launch cost of insight was small compared to the overall mission price.
Free launch wouldn't change much. They would still need to make 2-3 more insight lander, land them, and operate them (this is not free either).
Then there are the budget issues. Existing missions are getting delayed by years due to budget issues, and I'm sure that MSR is just warming up when it comes to devouring the budget. They are already talking about how the Uranus mission will get pushed back.
« Last Edit: 01/04/2023 02:32 pm by deadman1204 »

Offline Blackstar

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Re: Further Mars seismology and/or heat flow missions?
« Reply #17 on: 01/04/2023 05:26 pm »
NASA has invested in a technology development program for smaller reentry vehicles for Mars. I don't know the status of that program. I also doubt that it would be useful for future seismology missions because seismic sensors need careful setup. And a small spacecraft is limited in power. My guess is that the primary application would be meteorology sensors, probably with short lifetimes. But there is some hope for possible future distributed spacecraft missions.

Somebody else can look up the details.

Offline vjkane

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Re: Further Mars seismology and/or heat flow missions?
« Reply #18 on: 01/04/2023 05:51 pm »
NASA has invested in a technology development program for smaller reentry vehicles for Mars. I don't know the status of that program. I also doubt that it would be useful for future seismology missions because seismic sensors need careful setup. And a small spacecraft is limited in power. My guess is that the primary application would be meteorology sensors, probably with short lifetimes. But there is some hope for possible future distributed spacecraft missions.

Somebody else can look up the details.
Might be possible to host a geophone or similar.  Probably the biggest problem is getting sufficient data back to have meaningful measurements.

Offline Zed_Noir

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Re: Further Mars seismology and/or heat flow missions?
« Reply #19 on: 01/04/2023 06:51 pm »
Use a really big launcher to packed multiple Insight size landers in an interplanetary  transit bus. That option might be available in a few years.
I expect that if the launcher were free, it wouldn't matter. Instruments, spacecraft, and operations are much more expensive.

Launchers have the advantage that they can be built on an assembly line. Despite many attempts, planetary spacecraft aren't numerous enough, and their specific requirements are unique enough, that they are craft built. Largely the same for the instruments.

The Psyche spacecraft was a modification of an Earth orbiting satellite design. One of the conclusions of the Psyche review board is that the mission plan didn't take into account how many modifications would be needed for a deep space mission.
But this specific proposal is for a set of identical landers, so they will in fact be build on an assembly line.

The other advantage of cheaper launch is to allow heavier landers, which relieves a major design constraint and may possibly allow cheaper instruments with the same capabilities.



Isn't it fun to pour our big box of Legos onto the floor and start building our own spaceships?!

Things don't work the way you wrote. Two spacecraft is not "an assembly line," and there's this ridiculous assumption that if you back off the mass constraints, the spacecraft gets cheaper. The instruments are expensive because they are sophisticated. They are sophisticated not because they have to be low mass. They are sophisticated because they are sophisticated.

Question about instruments. What takes up most of the budget for a specific instrument. Is it the development of it or something else?

Serial production of a instrument in identical units should reduce the cost of the follow on units after the initial unit. One would think.


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