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 Concepts And Approaches For Mars Exploration
Houston - June 1, 2000 - NASA's Space Science Enterprise is openly considering all facets of its Mars Exploration Program starting with the 2005 opportunity and carrying through 15 years and beyond.

In order to cast a wide net for capturing ideas and potential participants for missions, mission elements, and experiments that fit within the broadly defined scope of this program, NASA is sponsoring a two-and-a-half-day workshop to be held at the Lunar and Planetary Institute (LPI), which is housed in the Center for Advanced Space Studies, 3600 Bay Area Boulevard, Houston, Texas. The dates for this workshop are July 18-20, 2000.

The workshop is open to scientists, engineers, technologists, and other colleagues from academia, NASA centers, federal laboratories, the private sector, and international partners.

The intent of the workshop is to provide an open forum for presentation, discussion, and consideration of various concepts, options, and innovations associated with a strategy for Mars exploration.

This strategy not only highlights "life, climate, and resources," calling for "following the water" as part of a "quest for life," but also includes studies of the martian environment as it relates to short- and long-term human presence.

Ideas are sought in three broad areas, each of which will be considered in depth by associated working groups during the workshop:

  • Specific mission elements (the "WHAT" groups), including experiments and instrumentation to conduct the basic research (e.g., geology/geophysics, biology) to be conducted in the timeframe under consideration. Discussion in this area will focus on key scientific objectives associated with "following the water" and the "quest for life," and will assess relative timing of suites of scientific activities. Also included in this category is the topic of planetary biocompatibility in its broadest sense, i.e., environmental characterization (soil, dust, atmosphere, radiation, etc.), as well as long-term human sustenance (living off the land utilizing in situ resources).
  • Specific mission concepts (the "HOW" group) that describe approaches to key program objectives such as robotic sample return, in situ analysis, deep subsurface access and sampling, and global reconnaissance including surface or atmospheric mobility.
  • Specific architectures (the "WHEN" group) for the Mars Exploration program that integrate mission concepts (specifically those that validate critical phases and elements of future potential science and human missions) into a time-phased sequence with specific definition of mission approaches, experiments, and expected results.

The objective of the workshop is to identify the most compelling approaches in the three categories listed above using a set of selection criteria that balance science content, development risk, affordability, and overall program integration.

This identification will be accomplished using assessments from the working groups as well as by a team of NASA-designated reviewers who will be present at the workshop. Concepts that emerge from the workshop will be input to NASA's overall planning for robotic exploration of Mars.

Those wishing to attend this workshop MUST submit a brief abstract (no more than two pages) indicating which of the topical areas the idea belongs in and outlining the idea. These abstracts are to be submitted electronically to the LPI using the electronic abstract submission form.

  • Instructions For Abstract Submissions


    The return of the beach ball
    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.

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