Space

May 24, 2012

NASA receives widespread concepts for future Mars missions

NASA’s call to scientists and engineers to help plan a new strategy to explore Mars has resulted in almost double the amount of expected submissions with unique and bold ideas.

About 400 concepts or abstracts were submitted to the Concepts and Approaches for Mars Exploration Workshop in Houston, which was organized to gather input for the reformulation of NASA’s Mars Exploration Program.

Submissions came from individuals and teams that included professional researchers, undergraduate and graduate students, NASA centers, federal laboratories, industry, and international partner organizations.

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

“This strong response sends a clear message that exploring Mars is important to future exploration,” said John Grunsfeld, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate at the agency’s headquarters in Washington and an astrophysicist and astronaut. “The challenge now will be to select the best ideas for the next phase.”

Selected abstracts will be presented during a workshop June 12-14 hosted by the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston. Selectees are now being invited to present and discuss concepts, options, capabilities and innovations to advance Mars exploration. Workshop discussion will help inform a strategy for exploration within available resources beginning as early as 2018, and stretching into the next decade and beyond. Proceedings will be streamed live online.

“Developing abstracts is very time consuming, requiring intense preparation, and we appreciate the fabulous response,” said Doug McCuistion, director, NASA’s Mars Exploration Program in Washington. “Even though space is limited, to ensure transparency in the process anyone can observe the scientific and engineering deliberations via the Web.”

Based on the abstracts selected, associated working groups will consider the ideas and concepts in depth during the workshop. Near-term ideas will be taken into consideration for early mission planning in the 2018-2024 timeframe, while mid- to longer-term ideas will inform program-level architecture planning for 2026 and beyond.

The Mars Program Planning Group, tasked with developing options for a reformulated Mars Exploration Program, will consider the workshop inputs for the various options, taking into consideration budgetary, programmatic, scientific, and technical constraints.

Options developed by the MPPG are expected to advance the science objectives in the National Research Council’s Planetary Science Decadal Survey. The survey rated the return of Mars samples to Earth as a top scientific goal. Developed in consultation with the scientific and technical community, the MPPG report is expected to be delivered for NASA review at the end of the summer.

The MPPG reports to Grunsfeld, who chairs the overall, agencywide reformulation strategy along with William Gerstenmaier, associate administrator for NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, NASA Chief Scientist Waleed Abdalati and NASA Chief Technologist Mason Peck.

“Getting to Mars is hard,” said Grunsfeld. “We’ve had successes and losses, but the human spirit to continue exploring the Red Planet prevails.”

This August, NASA will land the Mars Science Laboratory, Curiosity, on the planet’s surface. This roving science laboratory will assess whether Mars was or is today 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 progress updates and obtain information on the workshop, visit http://www.nasa.gov/offices/marsplanning/home/index.html.




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


 
 

 
Lockheed Martin photograph

NASA’s Orion Spacecraft powers through first integrated system testing

Lockheed Martin photograph Engineers in the Operations and Checkout Building at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, perform avionics testing on the Orion spacecraft being prepared for its first trip to space later this ye...
 
 

NASA’s Hubble extends stellar tape measure 10 times farther into space

Using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers now can precisely measure the distance of stars up to 10,000 light-years away – 10 times farther than previously possible. Astronomers have developed yet another novel way to use the 24-year-old space telescope by employing a technique called spatial scanning, which dramatically improves Hubble’s accuracy for making angular meas...
 
 
LM-AEHF

Fourth AEHF protected communications satellite begins integration months ahead of schedule

The fourth Advanced Extremely High Frequency satellite produced by Lockheed Martin is taking shape after early deliveries of its payload and propulsion core. AEHF-4, expected to launch in 2017, will enable the constellation to ...
 

 
nasa-telescope

NASA looks to go beyond batteries for space exploration

NASA is seeking proposals for the development of new, more capable, energy storage technologies to replace the battery technology that has long powered America’s space program. The core technologies solicited in the Wedne...
 
 

Near Infrared Camera Integrated into space telescope

Lockheed Martin and the University of Arizona have delivered the primary imaging instrument of the James Webb Space Telescope to NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. The new Near Infrared Camera, or NIRCam, has been successfully integrated within the heart of the telescope, known as the Integrated Science Instrument Module. The integration completes the suite of...
 
 

NASA awards robotics, vehicle, graphics simulation services contract

NASA has selected MacLean Engineering & Applied Technologies of Houston to provide simulation model development for organizations at the agency’s Johnson Space Center, also in Houston. This indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract has firm-fixed price and cost-plus fixed-fee task orders. Beginning July 1, the contract has a three-year base period followed by two one-year opt...
 




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>