Author Topic: NASA Selects Five Mars Orbiter Concept Studies  (Read 11370 times)

Offline Star One

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 10334
  • UK
  • Liked: 2105
  • Likes Given: 208
NASA Selects Five Mars Orbiter Concept Studies
« on: 07/18/2016 07:21 pm »
NASA has selected five U.S. aerospace companies to conduct concept studies for a potential future Mars orbiter mission. Such a mission would continue key capabilities including telecommunications and global high-resolution imaging in support of the agency’s Journey to Mars.

The companies contracted for these four-month studies are: The Boeing Company in Huntington Beach, California; Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Denver; Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems in Redondo Beach, California; Orbital ATK in Dulles, Virginia; and Space Systems/Loral in Palo Alto, California.

“We’re excited to continue planning for the next decade of Mars exploration,” said Geoffrey Yoder, acting associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington.

The concept studies will address how a potential new Mars orbiter mission could best provide communications, imaging and operational capabilities. They also will assess the possibilities for supporting additional scientific instruments and functionalities, in addition to optical communications. The orbiter concept under study would take advantage of U.S. industry’s technology capacities by using solar electric propulsion to provide flexible launch, mission and orbit capabilities.

The Mars Exploration Program Analysis Group, an organization designed to provide input to NASA from the Mars research science community, published a report six months ago on recommended science objectives for a Mars orbiter. These studies will provide input for assessing the feasibility of addressing these objectives. NASA also is pursuing partnership interest in contributing to this potential mission.

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, is managing the concept studies under the direction of the agency’s Mars Exploration Program.

NASA is on an ambitious Journey to Mars that includes sending humans to the Red Planet in the 2030s. The agency’s robotic spacecraft are leading the way, with two active rovers, three active orbiters, the planned launch of the InSight lander in 2018, and development of the Mars 2020 rover.

For more information about NASA’s Journey to Mars, visit:

https://www.nasa.gov/journeytomars

-end-

Dwayne Brown / Laurie Cantillo
Headquarters, Washington
202-358-1726 / 202-358-1077
[email protected] / [email protected]

Guy Webster
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
818-354-6278
[email protected]

http://www.nasa.gov/press-release/nasa-selects-five-mars-orbiter-concept-studies
« Last Edit: 07/18/2016 07:25 pm by Star One »

Offline Lar

  • Fan boy at large
  • Global Moderator
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 11671
  • Saw Gemini live on TV
  • A large LEGO storage facility ... in Michigan
  • Liked: 8823
  • Likes Given: 7399
Re: NASA Selects Five Mars Orbiter Concept Studies
« Reply #1 on: 07/18/2016 08:52 pm »
somebody (who's actually announced plans to send stuff to Mars) seems to be missing.. Was NASA thinking they aren't a viable candidate for an orbiter or that there is no need to give them work in this area or ? (or they bid but didn't make the cut?)
« Last Edit: 07/18/2016 08:53 pm by Lar »
"I think it would be great to be born on Earth and to die on Mars. Just hopefully not at the point of impact." -Elon Musk
"We're a little bit like the dog who caught the bus" - Musk after CRS-8 S1 successfully landed on ASDS OCISLY

Offline Bob Shaw

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1116
  • Liked: 463
  • Likes Given: 408
Re: NASA Selects Five Mars Orbiter Concept Studies
« Reply #2 on: 07/18/2016 09:03 pm »
Meh. Mars orbiters are *so* 20th Century. At least we should have good coverage of Red Dragon's EDL...

Offline baldusi

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 7444
  • Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • Liked: 1461
  • Likes Given: 4555
Re: NASA Selects Five Mars Orbiter Concept Studies
« Reply #3 on: 07/18/2016 09:09 pm »
somebody (who's actually announced plans to send stuff to Mars) seems to be missing.. Was NASA thinking they aren't a viable candidate for an orbiter or that there is no need to give them work in this area or ? (or they bid but didn't make the cut?)
If it is the company I think, it is not in (yet) on the market of making satellites. I'm more worried about Northrop Grumman that did such an excellent job handling the JWST. It could be worse and give money to those guy at Rayteon that are making an impressive work with GPS OCX and delaying L1c and L5 by four years for the whole world.

Offline Star One

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 10334
  • UK
  • Liked: 2105
  • Likes Given: 208
Re: NASA Selects Five Mars Orbiter Concept Studies
« Reply #4 on: 07/18/2016 09:14 pm »
somebody (who's actually announced plans to send stuff to Mars) seems to be missing.. Was NASA thinking they aren't a viable candidate for an orbiter or that there is no need to give them work in this area or ? (or they bid but didn't make the cut?)
If it is the company I think, it is not in (yet) on the market of making satellites. I'm more worried about Northrop Grumman that did such an excellent job handling the JWST. It could be worse and give money to those guy at Rayteon that are making an impressive work with GPS OCX and delaying L1c and L5 by four years for the whole world.
Not sure why you're slating NG for that when I thought the blame was apportioned on the NASA side.

Offline Jim

  • Night Gator
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 32651
  • Cape Canaveral Spaceport
  • Liked: 11558
  • Likes Given: 344
Re: NASA Selects Five Mars Orbiter Concept Studies
« Reply #5 on: 07/18/2016 09:23 pm »
somebody (who's actually announced plans to send stuff to Mars) seems to be missing.. Was NASA thinking they aren't a viable candidate for an orbiter or that there is no need to give them work in this area or ? (or they bid but didn't make the cut?)

What orbiting planetary spacecraft have they built later?

Offline Jim

  • Night Gator
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 32651
  • Cape Canaveral Spaceport
  • Liked: 11558
  • Likes Given: 344
Re: NASA Selects Five Mars Orbiter Concept Studies
« Reply #6 on: 07/18/2016 09:26 pm »
somebody (who's actually announced plans to send stuff to Mars) seems to be missing.. Was NASA thinking they aren't a viable candidate for an orbiter or that there is no need to give them work in this area or ? (or they bid but didn't make the cut?)
If it is the company I think, it is not in (yet) on the market of making satellites. I'm more worried about Northrop Grumman that did such an excellent job handling the JWST. It could be worse and give money to those guy at Rayteon that are making an impressive work with GPS OCX and delaying L1c and L5 by four years for the whole world.

What spacecraft has Raytheon built?
JWST was not just NG problems.
« Last Edit: 07/18/2016 10:03 pm by Jim »

Offline Khadgars

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 1066
  • Long Beach, California
  • Liked: 267
  • Likes Given: 702
Re: NASA Selects Five Mars Orbiter Concept Studies
« Reply #7 on: 07/18/2016 09:51 pm »
somebody (who's actually announced plans to send stuff to Mars) seems to be missing.. Was NASA thinking they aren't a viable candidate for an orbiter or that there is no need to give them work in this area or ? (or they bid but didn't make the cut?)

Are you referring to SpaceX?  SpaceX has zero experience building an orbiter, so why would they be on the list?

That doesn't mean a Falcon or FH couldn't launch the orbiter however...

Offline redliox

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2025
  • Arizona USA
  • Liked: 417
  • Likes Given: 69
Re: NASA Selects Five Mars Orbiter Concept Studies
« Reply #8 on: 07/18/2016 10:46 pm »
Nice to know who they may chose, although not exactly exciting news by itself.  The only question that comes to mind is this: how much experience do they have building SEP systems in addition to satellites themselves?  I assume some nowadays since electric propulsion is getting utilized more in satellite attitude control.

Prior to this I think Blackstar mentioned NASA only intends to place a single instrument, an improved cousin of MRO's HiRISE.  Anything else is supposed to be contributed outside of NASA.  Apparently NASA is making this mission more oriented toward engineering with SEP and optical communication prime examples; so it's sort of like the old Mars Telecommunications Orbiter in disguise.

My only other interest in the NeMO project lies with the fact, if it indeed fully uses SEP, that it will make repeated flybys of the Martian moons en route to low Mars orbit.  I'll leave that for the Deimos and Phobos Spacecraft thread.
"Let the trails lead where they may, I will follow."
-Tigatron

Offline baldusi

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 7444
  • Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • Liked: 1461
  • Likes Given: 4555
Re: NASA Selects Five Mars Orbiter Concept Studies
« Reply #9 on: 07/18/2016 11:03 pm »
The JWST requirement list was done only with "will" instead of "shall". Then they said "there's not enough budget to change it, and young ingineers use the words indistinctly, anyways". That's serious fault.
What I'm surprised is that Ball Aerospace is not there. They could and, arguably have more deep space experience than Loral. But, if I'm not mistaken, lack a GTO platform. Thus I'm starting to suspect that they might have given special emphasis to commercial adaptation.

Offline Blackstar

  • Veteran
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 11648
  • Liked: 3207
  • Likes Given: 1
Re: NASA Selects Five Mars Orbiter Concept Studies
« Reply #10 on: 07/18/2016 11:24 pm »
Are you referring to SpaceX?  SpaceX has zero experience building an orbiter, so why would they be on the list?


Because they can do anything. They are the space program now. NASA doesn't do anything anymore.

Offline Lar

  • Fan boy at large
  • Global Moderator
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 11671
  • Saw Gemini live on TV
  • A large LEGO storage facility ... in Michigan
  • Liked: 8823
  • Likes Given: 7399
Re: NASA Selects Five Mars Orbiter Concept Studies
« Reply #11 on: 07/19/2016 02:44 am »
Are you referring to SpaceX?  SpaceX has zero experience building an orbiter, so why would they be on the list?


Because they can do anything. They are the space program now. NASA doesn't do anything anymore.

Your sarcasm is unbecoming.

Given that SpaceX got money for Raptor development, and given that they want to start building fleets of satellites, it's not outside the realm of possibility that they might have bid this even if it's a way to retire some risk (as they are doing with Raptor) on someone else's dime.

I figured people in the know might know who else was in the running that didn't make the cut.
"I think it would be great to be born on Earth and to die on Mars. Just hopefully not at the point of impact." -Elon Musk
"We're a little bit like the dog who caught the bus" - Musk after CRS-8 S1 successfully landed on ASDS OCISLY

Online ccdengr

  • Full Member
  • *
  • Posts: 148
  • Liked: 80
  • Likes Given: 16
Re: NASA Selects Five Mars Orbiter Concept Studies
« Reply #12 on: 07/19/2016 02:59 am »
Note that SpaceX couldn't meet the basic qualifications for awards for this study, specifically MQ2 below.  Nor does Dragon count for MQ1, I think it's only 5 KW.

"Proposers must meet the following mandatory qualifications by time of award in order to be considered a qualified source and thereby eligible for award.
- MQ 1: Within the last 10 years, the proposer shall have successfully developed and flown a spacecraft with a solar power system of at least 10KW at 1 AU.
- MQ 2: Within the last 5 years, the proposer shall have successfully developed and flown a spacecraft that operated in deep space (beyond Earth orbit) or geosynchronous orbit (GEO).
- MQ 3: The proposer (both the prime contractor and its major lower-tier subcontractors for this effort) shall be a concern incorporated in the United States of America."

Offline high road

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 824
  • Europe
  • Liked: 237
  • Likes Given: 58
Re: NASA Selects Five Mars Orbiter Concept Studies
« Reply #13 on: 07/19/2016 06:21 am »
Are you referring to SpaceX?  SpaceX has zero experience building an orbiter, so why would they be on the list?


Because they can do anything. They are the space program now. NASA doesn't do anything anymore.

There's the reason why SpaceX shouldn't be doing orbiters (unless orbiters are part of their planned architecture so they need to get the experience anyway): spreading their efforts over too many projects will slow down progress, just like NASA.

Offline Arb

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 375
  • London
  • Liked: 256
  • Likes Given: 222
Re: NASA Selects Five Mars Orbiter Concept Studies
« Reply #14 on: 07/19/2016 02:29 pm »
It's a while since I read the RFP (or whatever it was called) but it struck me at the time that if SpaceX come even close to doing what they propose then they may well have in place a small CommX constellation at Mars some time before this orbiter launches.

Such a constellation would more than meet the requirements[1] in the RFP (except, perhaps, for the camera).

But they may yet fail (unlikely as that seems). So it is as well for NASA to proceed with business as usual in the meantime. Especially given the glacial speed of traditional developments.

[1] In terms of the raw communications capabilities between Mars and Earth. There were quite a few requirements that appeared unnecessarily prescriptive; defining not just a required capability but a preferred way of achieving it. It seems that some of the lessons of the CRS contract have yet to be fully appreciated.

Offline Lar

  • Fan boy at large
  • Global Moderator
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 11671
  • Saw Gemini live on TV
  • A large LEGO storage facility ... in Michigan
  • Liked: 8823
  • Likes Given: 7399
Re: NASA Selects Five Mars Orbiter Concept Studies
« Reply #15 on: 07/19/2016 02:48 pm »
There's the reason why SpaceX shouldn't be doing orbiters (unless orbiters are part of their planned architecture so they need to get the experience anyway): spreading their efforts over too many projects will slow down progress, just like NASA.
Pretty sure orbiters are going to be part of their long term architecture, we'll find out in September. Hence my comment, apparently too naiive for the likes of some, that maybe this was a way to gain experience or offload development cost, ala Raptor upper stage. 

But if the proposal has been wired to ensure new entrants are excluded, so be it.
"I think it would be great to be born on Earth and to die on Mars. Just hopefully not at the point of impact." -Elon Musk
"We're a little bit like the dog who caught the bus" - Musk after CRS-8 S1 successfully landed on ASDS OCISLY

Offline Jim

  • Night Gator
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 32651
  • Cape Canaveral Spaceport
  • Liked: 11558
  • Likes Given: 344
Re: NASA Selects Five Mars Orbiter Concept Studies
« Reply #16 on: 07/19/2016 03:27 pm »
It seems that some of the lessons of the CRS contract have yet to be fully appreciated.

CRS has no relation to this and hence no lessons are applicable.. There is no COTS.  You either have  abilities necessary or you don't bid
« Last Edit: 07/19/2016 09:08 pm by Jim »

Offline baldusi

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 7444
  • Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • Liked: 1461
  • Likes Given: 4555
Re: NASA Selects Five Mars Orbiter Concept Studies
« Reply #17 on: 07/19/2016 05:51 pm »


"Proposers must meet the following mandatory qualifications by time of award in order to be considered a qualified source and thereby eligible for award.
- MQ 1: Within the last 10 years, the proposer shall have successfully developed and flown a spacecraft with a solar power system of at least 10KW at 1 AU.
- MQ 2: Within the last 5 years, the proposer shall have successfully developed and flown a spacecraft that operated in deep space (beyond Earth orbit) or geosynchronous orbit (GEO).
- MQ 3: The proposer (both the prime contractor and its major lower-tier subcontractors for this effort) shall be a concern incorporated in the United States of America."

So Ball Aerospace failed MQ1? When NG complied with MQ1 and MQ2?

Offline Jim

  • Night Gator
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 32651
  • Cape Canaveral Spaceport
  • Liked: 11558
  • Likes Given: 344
Re: NASA Selects Five Mars Orbiter Concept Studies
« Reply #18 on: 07/19/2016 09:10 pm »
NG has many spacecraft in GSO

Offline baldusi

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 7444
  • Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • Liked: 1461
  • Likes Given: 4555
Re: NASA Selects Five Mars Orbiter Concept Studies
« Reply #19 on: 07/19/2016 11:40 pm »
NG has many spacecraft in GSO
I finally found it: DSP-23, launched 9 years ago. Did they launched anything else to GEO or deep space after that?
BTW, besides JWST the other big space program they have been prime was NPOESS. Apparently they are extremely unlucky and get all the bad clients on important projects.

Online ccdengr

  • Full Member
  • *
  • Posts: 148
  • Liked: 80
  • Likes Given: 16
Re: NASA Selects Five Mars Orbiter Concept Studies
« Reply #20 on: 07/20/2016 03:38 am »
So Ball Aerospace failed MQ1?
Neither Deep Impact nor Kepler meet the 10 KW requirement.  I haven't made an exhaustive study of every spacecraft they've ever built.  It's possible that they qualified but didn't make the cut for some other reason, assuming they bid in the first place.

Offline Jim

  • Night Gator
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 32651
  • Cape Canaveral Spaceport
  • Liked: 11558
  • Likes Given: 344
Re: NASA Selects Five Mars Orbiter Concept Studies
« Reply #21 on: 07/20/2016 02:29 pm »
NG has many spacecraft in GSO
I finally found it: DSP-23, launched 9 years ago. Did they launched anything else to GEO or deep space after that?
BTW, besides JWST the other big space program they have been prime was NPOESS. Apparently they are extremely unlucky and get all the bad clients on important projects.

AXAF

Offline baldusi

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 7444
  • Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • Liked: 1461
  • Likes Given: 4555
Re: NASA Selects Five Mars Orbiter Concept Studies
« Reply #22 on: 07/20/2016 04:02 pm »
I have TRW in very high regard, until the 90s. Something happened after that, at least on the prime open contracts.
They are still kings of meshed antenna by a large margin and still rule in many componen and subsystem. It's more their IBM attitude in big project management since the 2000s that I seriously distrust.
But if I had to choose three companies for this project I would chose Boeing, LM and OrbitalATK. Specially the last two that have still operational deep space and SEP mission.

Offline as58

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 833
  • Liked: 289
  • Likes Given: 186
Re: NASA Selects Five Mars Orbiter Concept Studies
« Reply #23 on: 07/20/2016 08:35 pm »
NG has many spacecraft in GSO
I finally found it: DSP-23, launched 9 years ago. Did they launched anything else to GEO or deep space after that?
BTW, besides JWST the other big space program they have been prime was NPOESS. Apparently they are extremely unlucky and get all the bad clients on important projects.

AXAF

As in Chandra? Do engineers still call it AXAF? I've never heard anyone use that name.
« Last Edit: 07/20/2016 08:39 pm by as58 »

Offline Jim

  • Night Gator
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 32651
  • Cape Canaveral Spaceport
  • Liked: 11558
  • Likes Given: 344
Re: NASA Selects Five Mars Orbiter Concept Studies
« Reply #24 on: 07/20/2016 09:41 pm »
NG has many spacecraft in GSO
I finally found it: DSP-23, launched 9 years ago. Did they launched anything else to GEO or deep space after that?
BTW, besides JWST the other big space program they have been prime was NPOESS. Apparently they are extremely unlucky and get all the bad clients on important projects.

AXAF

As in Chandra? Do engineers still call it AXAF? I've never heard anyone use that name.

MER A&B, MSL, LAB, NODE 1, MPLM, etc.  The other names are just PR
« Last Edit: 07/20/2016 09:41 pm by Jim »

Offline baldusi

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 7444
  • Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • Liked: 1461
  • Likes Given: 4555
Re: NASA Selects Five Mars Orbiter Concept Studies
« Reply #25 on: 07/21/2016 12:06 am »
I've read on http://spacenews.com/mars-2020-rover-mission-to-cost-more-than-2-billion/

Quote
However, some NASA studies have suggested using a Mars orbiter mission proposed for launch in 2022, primarily as a telecommunications relay and reconnaissance platform, to also collect the sample in Mars orbit and return it to Earth. That would require the use of a large solar electric propulsion system like the one NASA is proposing for use on its Asteroid Redirect Mission.
I couldn't find the official request. Was this included?

Offline Robotbeat

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 28860
  • Minnesota
  • Liked: 9056
  • Likes Given: 5799
Re: NASA Selects Five Mars Orbiter Concept Studies
« Reply #26 on: 07/21/2016 02:39 am »


"Proposers must meet the following mandatory qualifications by time of award in order to be considered a qualified source and thereby eligible for award.
- MQ 1: Within the last 10 years, the proposer shall have successfully developed and flown a spacecraft with a solar power system of at least 10KW at 1 AU.
- MQ 2: Within the last 5 years, the proposer shall have successfully developed and flown a spacecraft that operated in deep space (beyond Earth orbit) or geosynchronous orbit (GEO).
- MQ 3: The proposer (both the prime contractor and its major lower-tier subcontractors for this effort) shall be a concern incorporated in the United States of America."

So Ball Aerospace failed MQ1? When NG complied with MQ1 and MQ2?
Yeah, this seems a little absurd. This is why I objected to the strict mandatory qualifications. Ball should be at least considered.
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

To the maximum extent practicable, the Federal Government shall plan missions to accommodate the space transportation services capabilities of United States commercial providers. US law http://goo.gl/YZYNt0

Offline Robotbeat

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 28860
  • Minnesota
  • Liked: 9056
  • Likes Given: 5799
Re: NASA Selects Five Mars Orbiter Concept Studies
« Reply #27 on: 07/21/2016 02:40 am »
Meh. Mars orbiters are *so* 20th Century. At least we should have good coverage of Red Dragon's EDL...
Mars orbiters will be a thing for as long as anything makes any kind of sense. And especially when there is a human presence on Mars.

Orbiters are awesome.
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

To the maximum extent practicable, the Federal Government shall plan missions to accommodate the space transportation services capabilities of United States commercial providers. US law http://goo.gl/YZYNt0

Offline savuporo

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5155
  • Liked: 988
  • Likes Given: 343
Re: NASA Selects Five Mars Orbiter Concept Studies
« Reply #28 on: 04/03/2017 04:12 am »
NASA has selected five U.S. aerospace companies to conduct concept studies for a potential future Mars orbiter mission. Such a mission would continue key capabilities including telecommunications and global high-resolution imaging in support of the agency’s Journey to Mars.

The companies contracted for these four-month studies are....

How are those four month studies coming along, i wonder ?
Orion - the first and only manned not-too-deep-space craft

Offline zubenelgenubi

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2236
  • Arc to Arcturus, then Spike to Spica
  • Commonwealth of Virginia
  • Liked: 635
  • Likes Given: 2687
Re: NASA Selects Five Mars Orbiter Concept Studies
« Reply #29 on: 06/05/2017 08:36 pm »
The Space Review article, dated June 5:
A coming communications crunch at Mars

Summary: A new wave of missions is bound for the Red Planet in the next several years. Cody Knipfer describes how those missions could face challenges returning their data due to limited infrastructure, notably aging relays in Mars orbit.

Quote
In 2014, ESA extended Mars Express’ mission to the end of 2018—at which point the spacecraft will be 15 years old. MAVEN is currently serving an extended mission through late 2018, though it only carries enough propellant for operational life through 2024. According to JPL engineering estimates, Mars Odyssey could continue operations until at least 2025, while Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has enough propellant to remain operational in orbit through 2034.

While Mars Odyssey and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter have demonstrated their longevity, there is, according to Fuk Li, Director of the Mars Exploration Directorate at JPL in 2015, “real concern that the aging spacecraft might fail.” Jim Watzin, Director of NASA’s Mars Exploration Program, echoed these concerns in late 2016, noting that most of the spacecraft orbiting Mars will have reduced capabilities, if not failed outright, by 2020. Indeed, one of Mars Odyssey’s four reaction wheels has already failed. Even if they remain operational come 2020, Mars Odyssey will be 19 years old while Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter will be 15—aged platforms carrying outdated communications technology. As John Grunsfeld, former head of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, noted, a result of this limitation is that “[r]ight now most of what happens on Mars stays on Mars, because we don’t have the bandwidth to get the data back.”

Meanwhile, ESA’s Trace Gas Orbiter is expected to serve as the primary data relay for the ExoMars rover, set to land in 2021, but has a nominal end of mission in 2022. MAVEN’s elliptical orbit and fixed antenna makes it a less-than-ideal platform for data relay; NASA intends to maximize use of the spacecraft for its primary research mission instead of turning it over to communications support. According to Li, “[w]e never wanted to use MAVEN for relay operations unless there was a sudden emergency."

Some other relevant NSF forum threads:
Mars Telecom Orbiter reduxe

NASA Seeks Industry Ideas for an Advanced Mars Satellite

Is NASA too broke to afford more Mars probes?
« Last Edit: 06/05/2017 08:45 pm by zubenelgenubi »
Support your local planetarium!

Offline Dalhousie

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2210
  • Liked: 330
  • Likes Given: 407
Re: NASA Selects Five Mars Orbiter Concept Studies
« Reply #30 on: 06/07/2017 06:46 am »
This is a good paper on the state of the Mars Exploration Program:

http://www.planetary.org/blogs/casey-dreier/2017/0606-announcing-a-new-paper-on-nasas-robotic-mars-program.html

I wonder if the extreme longevity of the past 20 years of Mars missions has been a factor in the lack of a forward plan?  MGS almost 10 years. MO 16 years and counting, Spirit 4 years, Opportunity 13 years and counting, MRO 11 years and counting, Curiosity five years and counting.  All good missions but they may create an overhead that might impede new mission development.

Nothing is going to fly until the 2022 window anyway, that's five years off.  How much lead time is needed for the MSR and the new telecommunications orbiter(s)?
"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 zubenelgenubi

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2236
  • Arc to Arcturus, then Spike to Spica
  • Commonwealth of Virginia
  • Liked: 635
  • Likes Given: 2687
Re: NASA Selects Five Mars Orbiter Concept Studies
« Reply #31 on: 06/07/2017 03:03 pm »
This is a good paper on the state of the Mars Exploration Program:

http://www.planetary.org/blogs/casey-dreier/2017/0606-announcing-a-new-paper-on-nasas-robotic-mars-program.html

Mars in Retrograde
Authors: Jason Callahan and Casey Dreier

PDF attached

Quote
Executive Summary
From its inception in 2000, NASA’s Mars Exploration Program has enabled the space agency’s
leadership to define a coherent scientific and engineering strategy for its robotic Mars missions.
However, the future of the program is in serious doubt due to years of underinvestment. Though
NASA is working on a new rover mission that will prepare Mars samples for return to the Earth, the
lack of a comprehensive sample return strategy poses a challenge to continued U.S. leadership in
Mars exploration in the coming decade, with repercussions that could undermine continued
operations of surface missions in the 2020s and threaten the timeline of the first human mission to
the Martian surface.

The scientific community identified a rover to begin sample return from Mars as the most important
large-class mission for all of planetary science in this decade. The Planetary Society supports the
goal of sample return that would provide the direction necessary to re-establish a comprehensive
Mars Exploration Program strategy and plan for the 2020s. This would also ensure that NASA is
able to advance its readiness for the human exploration of Mars in the 2030s.

The nation has reached a critical decision point regarding the Mars Exploration Program. We
believe there are two reasonable pathways for the future of U.S. robotic exploration of Mars:
• Invest modest capital beginning in FY 2018 to maintain the scientific and technical
capabilities that have taken decades to acquire while advancing the technological and
surveying knowledge necessary for human exploration
• Maintain a minimal program that collects and prepares samples of Mars with the hope that,
at some future date, another nation or entity will return them

The Planetary Society believes the first pathway is the correct choice for the nation and our
international partners. In an effort to help NASA achieve these goals, The Planetary Society makes
three recommendations:
1. NASA should immediately commit to a Mars telecommunications and high-resolution
imaging orbiter to replace rapidly aging assets currently at Mars.
2. NASA should begin formulation of a sample retrieval rover and Mars Ascent Vehicle mission
to continue the overall Mars Sample Return campaign.
3. NASA should formulate a follow-on strategy to the Robotic Mars Exploration Strategy,
2007-2016 document.
« Last Edit: 06/07/2017 03:08 pm by zubenelgenubi »
Support your local planetarium!

Offline vjkane

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 723
  • Liked: 158
  • Likes Given: 3
Re: NASA Selects Five Mars Orbiter Concept Studies
« Reply #32 on: 06/07/2017 06:34 pm »


I think that is less of an issue than a high-level (above NASA) view that Mars got a lot of missions over a decade and a half, and so there should be fewer Mars missions.
Or put another way, reinvigorating the Discovery and New Frontiers programs and developing the Europa Clipper doesn't leave money to start the next Mars mission.  Whether or not the next steps in the Mars sample return program follow the Clipper mission will depend on the priorities set by the next Decadal Survey.  The obvious competition for the follow on Flagship mission are an ice giants mission, a Europa lander (although I expect that this will be so expensive that it will be passed by at least for the next decade) and perhaps a Saturn ocean worlds mission.

The Mars community in a way has boxed themselves in.  The only follow on missions they want are for sample return (and a communications orbiter supports that string of missions as well as possibly the latter years of the 2020 rover).  That's a many billion dollar chunk.

If the 2020 rover finds absolutely compelling samples to return (strong evidence for life or significant pre-biotic life), it may be hard to make that sell.  The lack of a mass spectrometer on that rover may make it hard to make that compelling case.  The planned instruments can detect organics but can supply much more limited information on their nature as I understand it.

Offline redliox

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2025
  • Arizona USA
  • Liked: 417
  • Likes Given: 69
Re: NASA Selects Five Mars Orbiter Concept Studies
« Reply #33 on: 06/08/2017 01:36 am »
I think that is less of an issue than a high-level (above NASA) view that Mars got a lot of missions over a decade and a half, and so there should be fewer Mars missions.
Or put another way, reinvigorating the Discovery and New Frontiers programs and developing the Europa Clipper doesn't leave money to start the next Mars mission.  Whether or not the next steps in the Mars sample return program follow the Clipper mission will depend on the priorities set by the next Decadal Survey.  The obvious competition for the follow on Flagship mission are an ice giants mission, a Europa lander (although I expect that this will be so expensive that it will be passed by at least for the next decade) and perhaps a Saturn ocean worlds mission.

You both have several points reiterating upon the same things in a good way.  I'd boil it down to 3 reasons why the Mars program is shrinking for the time being:

1) Limited Resources (mostly the fiscal variety)
2) Multiple increasingly interesting targets; i.e. Exoplanets, Europa, ect
3) Eventually need to synchronize Martian probes with Martian crew expeditions (not as immediate as the prior 2, but the communication problem now is only going to increase)

The Mars community in a way has boxed themselves in.  The only follow on missions they want are for sample return (and a communications orbiter supports that string of missions as well as possibly the latter years of the 2020 rover).  That's a many billion dollar chunk.

If the 2020 rover finds absolutely compelling samples to return (strong evidence for life or significant pre-biotic life), it may be hard to make that sell.  The lack of a mass spectrometer on that rover may make it hard to make that compelling case.  The planned instruments can detect organics but can supply much more limited information on their nature as I understand it.

There should have been a way to condense the effort for MSR, but granted funding plus the need to attempt some variety in science (Phoenix and InSight being examples) kept MSR from getting the attention it needed; then again I tend to see MSR as overrated and even distracting.  The communication problem, for instance, should have been dealt with years ago instead of putting so much attention on creating a rover dedicated to sample collecting.

Regarding 2020, spectrometer-smeckometer (not that it isn't a good tool choice); just focus on rounding up some samples; even if they aren't the absolute best one can be confident the team would focus on a good set of rocks worth sending back to Earth.  Thanks to the current generation of orbiters we know where to land and we aren't flying blindly and hoping to find something ala Viking.  Less fretting and nit-picking and get samples back to Earth.

While I'd like to see a variety of science on Mars rather than over-emphasize MSR, because MSR was highlighted on the last Decadal Survey it should become a priority, but only after the communication problem is settled.  In closing, NASA should do the following sequentially:

1) Launch the 2020 Rover
2) Launch a dedicated com orbiter (science be damned if cost an issue)
3) Launch MSR; get the samples at least into Martian orbit; possibly assume human retrieval if not a direct Earth return (ala the SpaceX MSR path)
« Last Edit: 06/08/2017 01:39 am by redliox »
"Let the trails lead where they may, I will follow."
-Tigatron

Offline redliox

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2025
  • Arizona USA
  • Liked: 417
  • Likes Given: 69
Re: NASA Selects Five Mars Orbiter Concept Studies
« Reply #34 on: 06/08/2017 04:42 am »
There should have been a way to condense the effort for MSR, but granted funding plus the need to attempt some variety in science (Phoenix and InSight being examples) kept MSR from getting the attention it needed; then again I tend to see MSR as overrated and even distracting.  The communication problem, for instance, should have been dealt with years ago instead of putting so much attention on creating a rover dedicated to sample collecting.

Regarding 2020, spectrometer-smeckometer (not that it isn't a good tool choice); just focus on rounding up some samples; even if they aren't the absolute best one can be confident the team would focus on a good set of rocks worth sending back to Earth.  Thanks to the current generation of orbiters we know where to land and we aren't flying blindly and hoping to find something ala Viking.  Less fretting and nit-picking and get samples back to Earth.


This really misunderstands the issues in a lot of ways.

Not really in regards to the theme of this thread.  NASA should have pushed for a support orbiter but, as usual, favored the Christmas-tree approach with probes and a probe dedicated to communication wasn't sexy enough.  Now we have a lot of probes with less support.
"Let the trails lead where they may, I will follow."
-Tigatron

Offline redliox

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2025
  • Arizona USA
  • Liked: 417
  • Likes Given: 69
Re: NASA Selects Five Mars Orbiter Concept Studies
« Reply #35 on: 06/08/2017 04:51 am »


I think that is less of an issue than a high-level (above NASA) view that Mars got a lot of missions over a decade and a half, and so there should be fewer Mars missions.
Or put another way, reinvigorating the Discovery and New Frontiers programs and developing the Europa Clipper doesn't leave money to start the next Mars mission. 

Let's talk about when things happened.

One thing that somebody could do is look at the Mars Exploration Program budget line over time and see how it declined. Then they could ask why each decline happened when it did. What caused that specific thing?

Back in 2007 the National Academies produced a mid-term review of NASA's progress on achieving the goals of the decadal survey. One of the things that review did was give NASA grades for its accomplishments. It gave NASA an A for the Mars program. Good job, well done. What was the response to that A grade? The Mars program budget was reduced. Interesting, huh? Interesting that a good rating results in what some people might consider to be punishment.

Now... why?

Surely even you could guess this.  The departments tied to non-Martian endeavors were given poorer grades and it was slowly remembered that there were more planets than Mars.  Also the discovery Enceladus was more habitable than Mars turned attention further away from the Red Planet, in addition to events like New Horizon's visit of Pluto or Rosetta's comet tour.  Also Curiosity became a budget hog.

Well, there were probably several reasons. I won't go into specifics (you might be able to find them if you dig around a bit--hint: look at the people in charge, also look at what else was going on in 2007), but one interpretation of that is that senior officials looked at NASA's Mars efforts, saw that they had flown a lot of missions, saw that the missions had returned a lot of data, and determined that Mars had benefited from a lot of money and attention and maybe now other parts of the NASA portfolio were deserving of that money. And maybe that's why they chose to cut the Mars budget and divert it to other things. Or at least maybe that was the excuse that they used for cutting the Mars budget.

Mars was undeniably the center of attention for a while; just talk to any poor Venus scientist who hasn't seen a flight since Venus Express or Magellan decades before that.
"Let the trails lead where they may, I will follow."
-Tigatron

Offline redliox

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2025
  • Arizona USA
  • Liked: 417
  • Likes Given: 69
Re: NASA Selects Five Mars Orbiter Concept Studies
« Reply #36 on: 06/08/2017 05:00 am »
Getting back on topic, assuming NASA prioritized putting the much-needed-com orbiter in place, how much could it hypothetically cost?  If it's primarily a communication device (laser or radio com) couldn't it be built on a New Frontiers budget or less?  We have com sats that handle the Van Allen belts already and even a trend toward equipping ion thrusters.
"Let the trails lead where they may, I will follow."
-Tigatron

Offline vjkane

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 723
  • Liked: 158
  • Likes Given: 3
Re: NASA Selects Five Mars Orbiter Concept Studies
« Reply #37 on: 06/09/2017 12:06 am »
Getting back on topic, assuming NASA prioritized putting the much-needed-com orbiter in place, how much could it hypothetically cost?  If it's primarily a communication device (laser or radio com) couldn't it be built on a New Frontiers budget or less?  We have com sats that handle the Van Allen belts already and even a trend toward equipping ion thrusters.

The Planetary Society whitepaper listed three costs/capabilities

The cost of the orbiter should be limited to that
of the necessary communications and highresolution
imaging capability. That is,
communications and imaging capability should
take priority over science on this mission. Initial
costs for a typical small-class mission with a
life cycle cost of $450 million are generally
$15-20 million per year for the first 2 years of
formulation

Presumably this is a chemical propulsion possibly without optical communications.

Initial costs for a typical medium-class
orbital mission with a life cycle cost of $700
million31 are generally $30-40 million per year
for the first 2 years of formulation

Not clear what drives the cost increase -- additional instruments or perhaps a less capable SEP engine

NASA should begin
formulation of a Mars telecommunications and
science orbiter with an Earth return vehicle
immediately in order to meet the 2024 Mars
launch window and begin construction of a
sample storage and curation facility. Solar
Electric Propulsion should be considered for
this mission to enable Earth return and
demonstrate technology necessary for future
cargo missions to support the human
exploration of Mars.  It will also provide data to address key
scientific questions identified in the Decadal
Survey. Initial costs for a typical large-class
with a life cycle cost of $1.5 billion are
generally $60-70 million per year for the first 2
years of formulation

Offline savuporo

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5155
  • Liked: 988
  • Likes Given: 343
Re: NASA Selects Five Mars Orbiter Concept Studies
« Reply #38 on: 06/09/2017 02:08 am »
Getting back on topic, assuming NASA prioritized putting the much-needed-com orbiter in place, how much could it hypothetically cost? ...

They paid five top tier comsat contractors quite a bit of money last year to get that answered - as per title of the thread.

Zero public info so far on what that amounted to.
Orion - the first and only manned not-too-deep-space craft

Offline Blackstar

  • Veteran
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 11648
  • Liked: 3207
  • Likes Given: 1

Offline Blackstar

  • Veteran
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 11648
  • Liked: 3207
  • Likes Given: 1
Re: NASA Selects Five Mars Orbiter Concept Studies
« Reply #40 on: 07/12/2017 08:12 pm »
http://docs.house.gov/meetings/AP/AP00/20170713/106248/HRPT-115-HR-p1.pdf

Mars Exploration.—The Committee remains supportive of NASA’s ongoing Mars missions gathering data about our nearest neighbor which may have once supported microbial life. These missions and the Mars 2020 mission will provide NASA and its partners with valuable data about future landing sites for the Mars 2020 rover and eventually humans. The recommendation includes $646,700,000 for the Mars Exploration program, including $374,300,000 for the Mars 2020 mission that meets scientific objectives from the most recent Planetary Science decadal survey, including the sample return mission, and $62,000,000 to continue research and development of the Mars 2022 Orbiter. Funding for the Mars helicopter technology demonstration is included within the Planetary Technology program described below. NASA shall provide quarterly briefings on all aspects of the Mars program.

Offline zubenelgenubi

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2236
  • Arc to Arcturus, then Spike to Spica
  • Commonwealth of Virginia
  • Liked: 635
  • Likes Given: 2687
Re: NASA Selects Five Mars Orbiter Concept Studies
« Reply #41 on: 03/13/2019 07:15 pm »
Re: The President's FY 2020 budget proposal:
From the budget teleconference:

Quote
LOREN GRUSH (The Verge): Hi. Thanks for taking my question again. I'm also curious about—
are there any plans to replace our current infrastructure at Mars in advance of the Mars Sample
Return Mission such as new communication satellites that are aging and orbiter on Mars right
now?
ANDREW HUNTER: Not at this time. Not in this budget.
Support your local planetarium!

Tags: