Space

April 16, 2012

NASA planning group takes key steps for future Mars exploration


NASA’s Mars Program Planning Group, established to assist the agency in developing a new strategy for the exploration of the Red Planet, has begun analyzing options for future robotic missions and enlisting the assistance of scientists and engineers worldwide.

NASA is reformulating the Mars Exploration Program to be responsive to high-priority science goals and the President’s challenge of sending humans to Mars in the 2030s.

“We’re moving quickly to develop options for future Mars exploration missions and pathways,” said John Grunsfeld, an astrophysicist, five-time space shuttle astronaut and associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate at the agency’s headquarters in Washington. “As part of this process, community involvement, including international, is essential for charting the new agency-wide strategy for our future Mars exploration efforts.”

Grunsfeld leads the agency-wide Mars program reformulation effort along with William Gerstenmaier, associate administrator for the Human Exploration and Operations Directorate, Chief Scientist Waleed Abdalati and Chief Technologist Mason Peck.

In February, Grunsfeld named veteran aerospace engineer Orlando Figueroa to lead the MPPG. In March, the group established an initial draft framework of milestones and activities that will include options for missions and sequences bridging the objectives of NASA’s science, human exploration and operations and technology.

Starting today, the scientific and technical community across the globe can submit ideas and abstracts online as part of NASA’s effort to seek out the best and the brightest ideas from researchers and engineers in planetary science. Selected abstracts will be presented during a workshop in June hosted by the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston.

The workshop will provide an open forum for presentation, discussion and consideration of concepts, options, capabilities and innovations to advance Mars exploration. These ideas will inform a strategy for exploration within available resources, beginning as early as 2018 and stretching into the next decade and beyond.

“Receiving input from our community is vital to energize the planning process,” said Doug McCuistion, director of the Mars Exploration Program at NASA Headquarters. “We’ll integrate inputs to ensure the next steps for the Mars Exploration Program will support science, as well as longer-term human exploration and technology goals.”

The new strategy also will be designed to maintain America’s critical technical skills, developed over decades, to achieve the highest priority science and exploration objectives.

NASA has a recognized track record of successful missions on Mars, and exploration of the planet is a priority for the agency. The rover Opportunity, which landed on Mars in 2004, is still operating well beyond its official mission of 90 days. There also are two NASA satellites, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and Mars Odyssey, orbiting Mars and returning unprecedented science data and images.

In August, NASA will land the Mars Science Laboratory, “Curiosity,” on the planet’s surface. This roving science laboratory will assess whether Mars was in the past or present an environment able to support life. In 2013, NASA will launch the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution orbiter, the first mission devoted to understanding the Martian upper atmosphere.

 

To view the call for abstracts and workshop information, visit http://www.lpi.usra.edu/meetings/marsconcepts2012.

For more information about NASA’s Mars programs, visit http://www.nasa.gov/mars.

 




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
NASA image by Eric Stern

NASA announces early stage innovations space tech research grants

NASA image by Eric Stern Advanced thermal protection materials modeling using the Direct Simulation Monte Carlo (DSMC) method simulates the flow through porous TPS materials. Research into these sorts of advanced technologies e...
 
 

NASA awards launch services contract for Ionospheric Connection Explorer

NASA has selected Orbital Sciences Corporation of Dulles, Va., to provide launch services for the Ionospheric Connection Explorer mission. ICON is targeted to launch in June 2017 from the Reagan Test Site on Kwajalein Atoll in the Republic of the Marshall Islands aboard a Pegasus XL launch vehicle from Orbital’s “Stargazer” L-1011 aircraft. The total...
 
 

NASA selects student teams for high-powered rocket challenge

NASA has selected eight teams from middle and high schools across the country to participate in the 2014-2015 NASA Student Launch Challenge, April 7-12, organized by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. The Student Launch Challenge engages students in a research-based, experiential exploration activity. Teams participating in the challenge must design, build and...
 

 

Northrop Grumman awarded advanced technology microwave sounder JPSS

Northrop Grumman has been awarded a $121 million contract by NASA to build and deliver the third Advanced Technology Microwave Sounder for NOAA’s Joint Polar Satellite System. ATMS provides critical atmospheric temperature and moisture profiles to support weather forecasting. The instrument has 22 channels spanning the frequency band from 23.8 GHz to 183.3 GHz. Under...
 
 
NASA photograph by Jim Yungel

NASA DC-8 continues west Antarctic ice study

NASA photograph by Jim Yungel The Thurston Island calving front off of western Antarctica as seen from the window of NASA’s DC-8 flying observatory Nov. 5, 2014. NASA’s DC-8 flying laboratory has two weeks of suppor...
 
 
NASA photograph by Emmett Given

NASA opens registration for 2015 Exploration Rover Challenge

NASA photograph by Emmett Given Pedaling across a simulated alien landscape of rock, craters and shifting sand is one of the nearly 90 teams of high school, college and university students from across the United States and arou...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>