Author Topic: New Frontiers 4  (Read 98232 times)

Offline Blackstar

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #420 on: 11/11/2018 02:39 pm »
You've mentioned 'strategic concerns' a few times. I'm not really clear on what you mean by that. Does that have to do with the decadal survey?

Sorry, I should have been clearer on that. In this case, I do not mean in terms of the decadal survey. I'll try to clarify:

Discovery missions can be to any target in the solar system. The decadal survey says so. So no matter where you go, there you are. New Frontiers missions are established by a list in the decadal survey, so at least for now, in order to propose a New Frontiers mission it has to come from that list. That's the limit of the decadal survey for these two mission types.

However, there are other concerns that could affect mission selection, and these could be "strategic," by which I mean they are concerns established outside of the missions themselves. An example of a strategic concern could be the director of the Planetary Science Division and/or the Associate Administrator for SMD's interest in maintaining balance across the solar system in choice of targets. For example, if you have selected five asteroid/comet missions in a row and no Venus missions, there could be a strategic interest in spreading around the science and choosing a Venus mission if one is selectable. (That last part is key.)

But another could be if there is a new set of goals for NASA as an agency, and the AA for SMD wants to make sure that the Science Mission Directorate is contributing to those goals. An example for this would be how, during the second half of the 2000s, NASA was pursuing the Vision for Space Exploration to return to the Moon. The AA for SMD at that time, Alan Stern, publicly stated that his goal was to make sure that SMD contributed to the new agency direction toward lunar exploration. In that case, NASA might have been biased in favor of choosing lunar missions like GRAIL (in 2007) over non-lunar missions--because he wanted the NASA administrator to see that SMD was supporting the top agency goals of returning to the Moon.

So you see, there are other concerns that selecting officials consider when they decide which mission to develop. The way it has been explained to me is that after the review board has evaluated all the mission proposals, they come up with a small list of missions that they consider "selectable." That list goes to the director of PSD, who writes a memo that says "Of missions A, B, C and D, I think you should down-select to A and C because of the following issues." Then that goes to the AA for the Science Mission Directorate. That person looks at A, B, C and D, as well as the memo from the director of PSD, and they then down-select to however many they want to fund. Then those two get further study, and further review. I think that a new review team then says "We have looked at the two down-selected missions, and here are their strengths and weaknesses in terms of science, engineering, schedule and cost risk." Then, after all that, the selecting official--the Associate Administrator for SMD--makes a decision on which mission to develop.

A factor that could enter into this decision is the cost risk. If, for example, NASA is getting hammered in Congress and the press (and by OMB) over cost overruns on its missions, then the AA for SMD may feel a lot of pressure to keep missions within their cost caps, and so he or she may select the mission that they consider more likely to stay within the box. That was certainly the case when Alan Stern was AA--he publicly stated numerous times that cost control was an overriding concern of his. But cost is just one factor among many.

But, as I noted earlier, what often happens is that the actual strengths and weaknesses of the individual proposals themselves (which we on the outside never learn about) are the key factors. We on the outside look at the decision and say "The AA picked Proposal C because it has been 25 years since the last Venus mission and so they wanted a Venus mission." But the reality is that we don't know, and it is more likely that the decision was made because of the strengths and weaknesses of the proposal than it is because of one of these external strategic considerations.

Offline Blackstar

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #421 on: 11/13/2018 02:25 am »
"Strategic concerns" seems to carry high weight

And what I'm saying is that they don't. People assume that, but they don't carry the weight that people think they do.

I talked about Discovery selection with PIs who lost and told me why they lost. And I also talked to a former AA who said--I'm paraphrasing--I'm always amused when people say they think that I made my decision because of X, and that wasn't the reason at all...

Offline Star One

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #422 on: 01/19/2019 02:22 pm »

Offline Fequalsma

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #423 on: 01/20/2019 12:25 am »
Additional thoughts on NASA strategic goals in section 2.1 of the NF4 AO:

https://nspires.nasaprs.com/external/viewrepositorydocument/cmdocumentid=548004/solicitationId=%7BF65A5657-0E72-362E-2D4C-DE87A16A82B7%7D/viewSolicitationDocument=1/NF4%20AO.pdf

2.1 NASA Strategic Goals

One of NASA’s strategic goals is to “Expand the frontiers of knowledge, capability, and opportunity in space.” Further information on NASA’s strategic goals may be found in NASA Policy Directive (NPD) 1001.0B, The 2014 NASA Strategic Plan, available through the Program Library (Appendix D).

The NASA Science Mission Directorate (SMD) is addressing this strategic goal through Strategic Objective 1.5: Ascertain the content, origin, and evolution of the solar system and the potential for life elsewhere.

Further information on the goals and objectives of NASA’s New Frontiers program may be found in the 2014 Science Mission Directorate Science Plan available at http://science1.nasa.gov/about-us/science-strategy/.

Offline Fequalsma

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #424 on: 01/20/2019 12:45 am »
Several review panels and committees evaluate each proposal, leading up to the AA's selection decision. All of the gory details of the selection and down-selection processes are discussed in section 7 of the AO:

7. Proposal Evaluation, Selection, and Implementation
7.1 Overview of the Proposal Evaluation and Selection Process

Note that many of the items that Blackstar discussed are mentioned as "programmatic factors" in section 7.3:

7.3 Selection Factors

As described in Section 7.1.3, the results of the proposal evaluations based on the criteria above and the categorizations will be considered in the selection process.

Considering the critical role of the PI, PM, PSE, and their institutions, prior experience (especially in meeting cost and schedule constraints) will be an important factor in the selection of an investigation under this AO.

The Selection Official may take into account a wide range of programmatic factors in deciding whether or not to select any proposals for Phase A study and in selecting among top-rated proposals, including, but not limited to, planning and policy considerations, available funding, programmatic merit and risk of any proposed partnerships, and maintaining a programmatic and scientific balance across SMD. While SMD develops and evaluates its program strategy in close consultation with the scientific community through a wide variety of advisory groups, the SMD program is an evolving activity that ultimately depends upon the most current Administration policies and budgets, as well as program objectives and priorities that can change quickly based on, among other things, new discoveries from ongoing missions.

The overriding consideration for the selection of proposals submitted in response to this AO will be to maximize scientific return and minimize implementation risk while advancing NASA's science goals and objectives within the available budget for this program. Therefore, the proposed PI-Managed Mission Cost will be considered in the final selection of investigations through this AO. Depending on the availability of proposals of appropriate merit, this objective may be achieved by the selection of investigation(s) at the AO Cost Cap, one or more investigations significantly below the AO Cost Cap that would allow a more rapid release of the next AO, or a combination of investigations of various costs. Proposers are encouraged to propose well below the AO Cost Cap, as that permits greater flexibility and robustness in the Program and in SMD.

Offline Blackstar

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #425 on: 01/20/2019 01:00 am »
This is a good find. One comment:

2.1 NASA Strategic Goals

One of NASA’s strategic goals is to “Expand the frontiers of knowledge, capability, and opportunity in space.”

One interpretation of that I heard recently was that for a NF proposal you should not simply be conducting science about your planetary target, but that science should be relevant to questions beyond that planetary target as well. So in the case of my personal favorite, South Pole-Aitken Basin sample return (I know, it's not the most exciting mission in the mix), that mission would not only answer scientific questions about the Moon, but also about the Earth-Moon system, and also potentially about the formation of the solar system. So the overall scientific scope is quite broad.


Offline Fequalsma

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #426 on: 01/20/2019 01:42 am »
You didn't have the AO? I'm shocked!
F=ma


This is a good find. One comment:

2.1 NASA Strategic Goals

One of NASA’s strategic goals is to “Expand the frontiers of knowledge, capability, and opportunity in space.”

One interpretation of that I heard recently was that for a NF proposal you should not simply be conducting science about your planetary target, but that science should be relevant to questions beyond that planetary target as well. So in the case of my personal favorite, South Pole-Aitken Basin sample return (I know, it's not the most exciting mission in the mix), that mission would not only answer scientific questions about the Moon, but also about the Earth-Moon system, and also potentially about the formation of the solar system. So the overall scientific scope is quite broad.



Offline Blackstar

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #427 on: 01/20/2019 02:50 am »
You didn't have the AO? I'm shocked!

That came out two years ago. I haven't looked at it in two years.

But I'm also not competing in these things, so I don't have to read the rules.

Offline Star One

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #428 on: 01/20/2019 09:09 am »
This is a good find. One comment:

2.1 NASA Strategic Goals

One of NASA’s strategic goals is to “Expand the frontiers of knowledge, capability, and opportunity in space.”

One interpretation of that I heard recently was that for a NF proposal you should not simply be conducting science about your planetary target, but that science should be relevant to questions beyond that planetary target as well. So in the case of my personal favorite, South Pole-Aitken Basin sample return (I know, it's not the most exciting mission in the mix), that mission would not only answer scientific questions about the Moon, but also about the Earth-Moon system, and also potentially about the formation of the solar system. So the overall scientific scope is quite broad.

Be cheaper if NASA saw what kind of co-operation they can do with China over the South Pole-Aitken Basin mission being as they’ve said they are open to working with others.

Offline Tywin

Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #429 on: 01/25/2019 07:45 pm »
The knowledge is power...
Everything is connected...

Offline matthewkantar

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #430 on: 01/25/2019 09:35 pm »
Does anybody know if planetary protection issues will be included in the selection process? I looked around to see if I could find any information, but did not come up with anything. I am excited about the DragonFly mission, it occurred to me that this is a potential peril.

Offline ccdengr

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #431 on: 01/26/2019 02:10 am »
Does anybody know if planetary protection issues will be included in the selection process?
Titan is only Category II*, so less critical than Europa or Enceladus.  https://planetaryprotection.nasa.gov/categories

Huygens managed to fly, though perhaps the rules were more lax then.

Offline hop

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #432 on: 01/26/2019 09:37 pm »
Huygens managed to fly, though perhaps the rules were more lax then.
Huygens also didn't have and RTG, which AFAIK generally makes meeting a given level of requirements easier. An RTG can provide a habitable environment for decades and melt its way into the subsurface, though given how deep any subsurface liquid water on Titan is expected to be, this may not be much of a concern.

edit:
Regarding matthewkantar's query,  I'm sure both the DragonFly team and the people who selected it as a finalist did so in the belief that it didn't have insurmountable PP issues. This isn't a risk that's going to suddenly come out of nowhere at the end. The AO has a whole section devoted to PP.
Quote
5.1.5.1 Planetary Protection

Investigations are subject to the established NASA policies and procedures that address forward contamination (transmittal from Earth to a targeted solar system body) and backward contamination (transmittal to Earth from the targeted body) with respect to other solar system bodies (see NPD 8020.7G, Biological Contamination Control for Outbound and Inbound Planetary Spacecraft; NPR 8020.12D, Planetary Protection Provisions for Robotic Extraterrestrial Missions; and NASA-HDBK-6022, NASA Handbook for the Microbiological Examination of Space Hardware (DRAFT), in the Program Library). Note that forward contamination is of particular concern for Mars and for possible liquid water bodies within icy satellites.
...

Requirement 14. Proposals that include an encounter with another solar system body, via flyby, orbiter, lander, or end of mission impact shall address plans in draft form for contamination control, as required by NPD 8020.7G and NPR 8020.12D; such investigations shall bear all additional costs generated by any special planetary protection requirements.

Of course, it's always possible that detailed analysis will reveal issues that make it more difficult or costly to meet the requirements.
« Last Edit: 01/26/2019 10:59 pm by hop »

Offline vjkane

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #433 on: 01/27/2019 10:08 pm »
Does anybody know if planetary protection issues will be included in the selection process? I looked around to see if I could find any information, but did not come up with anything. I am excited about the DragonFly mission, it occurred to me that this is a potential peril.
One thing to remember is that water ice on Titan is as hard as rock on Earth.  Dragonfly's RTG would create a local environment equivalent to an alien power source on Earth that created a small lava pool at it's crash site.  I suspect the effect on Titan would be as inhospitable as one Earth.  Although large impacts would have created areas where, the proposers tell me, water could have been liquid for as long as tens of thousands of years.

Offline zubenelgenubi

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #434 on: 03/13/2019 07:20 pm »
Cross-post:
FY 2020 Presidential budget proposal
Full presentation at: https://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/atoms/files/fy2020_summary_budget_brief.pdf
Quote
Supports ongoing New Frontiers missions, as well as for a new selection in FY 2019.
Support your local planetarium!

Offline Steam Chaser

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Re: New Frontiers 4
« Reply #435 on: 03/23/2019 05:04 pm »
From the 50th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference:

POSTER SESSION I:  CAESAR AND DRAGONFLY:  NEW FRONTIERS PHASE A STUDIES

https://www.hou.usra.edu/meetings/lpsc2019/pdf/lpsc2019_program.htm#sess336

Dragonfly:  In Situ Exploration of Titan’s Organic Chemistry and Habitability
Titan’s Surface from Dragonfly:  Bridging the Gap Between Composition and Environment
Titan Seismology with Dragonfly:  Probing the Internal Structure of the Most Accessible Ocean World

The CAESAR New Frontiers Mission:  1. Expected Nature of the Returned Comet Sample
The CAESAR New Frontiers Mission: 3. TAG Site Selection and Camera Suite
The CAESAR New Frontiers Mission:  3. Sample Acquisition and Preservation

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