Subscribe free to our newsletters via your
. 24/7 Space News .

Subscribe free to our newsletters via your

The return of the beach ball
In comments today during NASA's press conference to discuss new findings of water on Mars, the Agency reaffirmed it's choice of two missions for Mars in 2003, but time pressures were an issue. However, it was noted that the European lander Beagle 2 offered an opportunity to target to one of these suspected water seepage sites.
NASA Takes Out Two Options On Mars 2003
Washington - May 12, 2000 - In 2003, NASA may launch either a Mars scientific orbiter mission or a large scientific rover which will land using an airbag cocoon like that on the successful 1997 Mars Pathfinder mission. The two concepts were selected from dozens of options that had been under study. NASA will make a decision on the options, including whether or not to proceed to launch, in early July.

Two teams, one centered at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Pasadena, CA, and the other at Lockheed Martin Astronautics, Denver, CO, will conduct separate, intensive two- month studies to further define the concepts. In the studies the teams also will evaluate risk, cost, and readiness for flight, allowing 36 months of development leading to a May 2003 launch date.

The reports will be submitted for review to Mars Program Director Scott Hubbard at NASA Headquarters, Washington, DC. Dr. Ed Weiler, Associate Administrator for Space Science at NASA Headquarters, will make the final decision of which mission -- if any -- to launch in the 2003 opportunity. If selected, the cost of the 2003 mission will be about the same as the successful 1997 Mars Pathfinder mission (adjusted for inflation).

"Our budget will support only one of these two outstanding missions for the 2003 launch opportunity, and it will be a very tough decision to make," said Dr. Weiler.

"Following this decision, later in the year we will have a more complete overall Mars exploration program to present to the American public which will represent the most exciting, most scientifically rich program of exploration we have ever undertaken of the planet Mars."

"These two mission concepts embody the requirements we have learned through the hard lessons of two recent Mars mission failures, and either one will extend the tremendous scientific successes we have had with the Mars Global Surveyor and Mars Pathfinder," said Hubbard.

The Mars Surveyor Orbiter is a multi-instrument spacecraft similar in size to the currently operating Mars Global Surveyor. It is designed to recapture all the lost science capability of the Mars Climate Orbiter mission as well as to seek new evidence of water-related materials.

The orbiter's mission will be to study the martian atmosphere and trace the signs of ancient and modern water. Its instruments potentially will include a very high- resolution imaging system, a moderate-to-wide-angle multicolor camera, an atmospheric infrared sounder, a visible-to-near- infrared imaging spectrometer, an ultraviolet spectrometer, and possibly a magnetometer and laser altimeter. Telecommunications relay equipment that could be used to support Mars missions for 10 years also would be included.

The return of the beach ball
The rover is a based on the Athena rover design, which already has been operated in field tests and previously was considered for the cancelled 2001 lander mission.

The concept being proposed for the 2003 mission involves packaging the 286- pound (130-kilogram) rover in a system similar to the 1997 Mars Pathfinder structure, which would be cushioned on landing by airbags.

Unlike the 1997 mission, however, the four-petal, self- righting enclosure would serve only as a means to deliver the rover to the surface and not function as a science or support station.

After landing, the Mars Mobile Lander would serve as a self- contained mission, communicating directly with Earth or with an orbiting spacecraft band as the rover traverses the martian terrain.

The rover would be capable of travelling up to 100 yards (100 meters) a day, providing unprecedented measurements of the mineralogy and geochemistry of the martian surface, particularly of rocks, using a newly developed suite of instruments optimized to search for clues about ancient water on Mars.

The mobile surface-laboratory will be able to gain access to a broad diversity of rocks and fine-scale materials for the first time on the surface of Mars, in its search for evidence of water-related materials. The rover's mission would last for at least 30 days on the surface.

"We are opening up a new frontier on the Red Planet, and we can't afford to overlook anything," Weiler added. "We have to make sure we plan it well, provide our people with the tools they need, and do whatever it takes to ensure the best possible chances for success."

  • Pathfinder
  • Cornell Mars Missions
  • Mars at SpaceDaily

    Sojourner's "Smarts" Reflect Latest in Automation
    JPL - August 18, 1997 - The Mars Pathfinder Sojourner, a lightweight machine on wheels, is accomplishing a revolutionary feat on the surface of Mars. For the first time, a "thinking" robot, equipped with sophisticated laser eyes and automated programming, is "thinking" and reacting to unplanned events on the surface of another planet.

    Thanks for being here;
    We need your help. The SpaceDaily news network continues to grow but revenues have never been harder to maintain.

    With the rise of Ad Blockers, and Facebook - our traditional revenue sources via quality network advertising continues to decline. And unlike so many other news sites, we don't have a paywall - with those annoying usernames and passwords.

    Our news coverage takes time and effort to publish 365 days a year.

    If you find our news sites informative and useful then please consider becoming a regular supporter or for now make a one off contribution.

    SpaceDaily Contributor
    $5 Billed Once

    credit card or paypal
    SpaceDaily Monthly Supporter
    $5 Billed Monthly

    paypal only

    Memory Foam Mattress Review
    Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
    XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

  • The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2016 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement All images and articles appearing on Space Media Network have been edited or digitally altered in some way. Any requests to remove copyright material will be acted upon in a timely and appropriate manner. Any attempt to extort money from Space Media Network will be ignored and reported to Australian Law Enforcement Agencies as a potential case of financial fraud involving the use of a telephonic carriage device or postal service.