Robotic Spacecraft (Astronomy, Planetary, Earth, Solar/Heliophysics) > Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) and Mars 2020 Rover Section

Mars Micro Orbiter

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vjkane:
NASA is considering flying Malin's Mars Micro [CubeSat] Orbiter as a secondary payload with the 2020 rover launch.  Like the MARCO cubesates, MMO would be a fully independent spacecraft that would enter and operate in Mars orbit on its own.  It would conduct global weather observations.

A decision on whether or not to fly MMO is expected soon.  NASA's officials have said that the recent design reviews were very positive.

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Blackstar:
This one was discussed at LPSC. It did not make it into phase 2, so I'm surprised to see it reemerge.

I haven't seen any good overall discussion of CubeSats/Smallsats and planetary missions, but they're in a bit of a conundrum: NASA decided that none of the missions being studied would be allowed to interfere with a primary mission. That makes sense, but it had the effect of driving many of the CubeSat missions to look for alternative rides to their targets and/or alternative methods for entering orbit/landing. That resulted in some expensive/risky design choices that negated the supposed value of the small spacecraft.

I'm not sure that there's a way out of that Catch 22. After all, primary missions are meeting major space science goals, and you don't want to impact them, and the impact may be greater than any benefit that the smallsat can provide. But I'm glad that NASA is now considering this spacecraft and I hope that they can pull it off.

Blackstar:
I vaguely remember somebody at LPSC joking about this mission that it might grow to be so many U that it's now as big as a Discovery mission. So keeping it small has been a challenge. I also remember somebody saying that the biggest risk to the mission is losing a CMG and the biggest risk reduction would be adding a CMG. But my memory could be faulty on that.

vjkane:

--- Quote from: Blackstar on 05/13/2018 06:17 pm ---This one was discussed at LPSC. It did not make it into phase 2, so I'm surprised to see it reemerge.

I haven't seen any good overall discussion of CubeSats/Smallsats and planetary missions, but they're in a bit of a conundrum: NASA decided that none of the missions being studied would be allowed to interfere with a primary mission. That makes sense, but it had the effect of driving many of the CubeSat missions to look for alternative rides to their targets and/or alternative methods for entering orbit/landing.

--- End quote ---
If chosen for flight, MMO would be deployed from the rear of the upper stage as the MARCO cubesats were.

I could be mis-remembering what was said in a meeting, but my memory is that the mission's last review was very positive and a decision on flight would come this spring.

Blackstar:
I just checked with somebody who knows. They got positive reviews, but they were canceled a few weeks ago.

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