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.


 
 

 

Northrop Grumman’s AstroMesh reflector successfully deploys for NASA’s SMAP satellite

The NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory successfully deployed the mesh reflector and boom aboard the Soil Moisture Active Passive spacecraft, a key milestone on its mission to provide global measurements of soil moisture. Launched Jan. 31, SMAP represents the future of Earth Science by helping researchers better understand our planet. SMAP’s unmatched data capabilities are enabled...
 
 
NASA photograph by Brian Tietz

NASA offers space tech grants to early career university faculty

NASA photograph by Brian Tietz Tensegrity research is able to simulate multiple forms of locomotion. In this image, a prototype tensegrity robot reproduces forward crawling motion. NASA’s Space Technology Mission Director...
 
 

NASA releases first global rainfall, snowfall map from new mission

Like a lead violin tuning an orchestra, the GPM Core Observatory – launched one year ago on Feb. 27, 2014, as a collaboration between NASA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency – acts as the standard to unify precipitation measurements from a network of 12 satellites. The result is NASA’s Integrated Multi-satellite Retrievals for GPM...
 

 

New NASA Earth Science Missions expand view of our home planet

Four new NASA Earth-observing missions are collecting data from space with a fifth newly in orbit ñ after the busiest year of NASA Earth science launches in more than a decade. On Feb. 27, 2014, NASA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency launched the Global Precipitation Measurement Core Observatory into space from Japan. Data from...
 
 

NASA, ESA telescopes give shape to furious black hole winds

NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) and ESA’s (European Space Agency) XMM-Newton telescope are showing that fierce winds from a supermassive black hole blow outward in all directions – a phenomenon that had been suspected, but difficult to prove until now. This discovery has given astronomers their first opportunity to measure the strength of these...
 
 
NASA photograph by Gary Banziger

Jurczyk named head of NASA Space Technology Mission Directorate

NASA photograph by Gary Banziger NASA’s Steve Jurczyck addresses an audience during a manufacturing event in Hampton, Va., last month. NASA Administrator Charles Bolden has named Steve Jurczyk as the agency’s Associ...
 




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>