Space

June 26, 2012

Houston workshop marks key step in planning future Mars mission

A recent workshop conducted for NASA by the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston, marked a key step in the agency’s effort to forge a new Mars strategy in the coming decades.

A report that summarizes the wide range of cutting-edge science, technology and mission concepts discussed is available online.

Held in Houston June 12-14 and attended by scientists and engineers worldwide, the meeting was held to seek ideas, concepts and capabilities to address critical challenge areas in exploring the Red Planet. Discussions provided information for reformulating NASA’s Mars Exploration Program to be responsive to high-priority science goals and the challenge of sending humans to Mars orbit in the 2030s.

Participants identified a number of possible approaches to missions that can be flown to Mars in the coming decade that would make progress toward returning Martian samples – a top priority of the Planetary Science Decadal Survey – and make significant advances in scientific understanding of the planet, developing key technologies and advancing knowledge necessary for human exploration on and around Mars.

NASA’s Mars Program Planning Group, tasked with developing options for a reformulated MEP, will consider the workshop inputs in addition to budgetary, programmatic, scientific and technical constraints.

“Scientists and engineers came together to present their most creative ideas for exploring Mars,” said John Grunsfeld, an astronaut, astrophysicist and associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “Great ideas come from challenging the best and brightest and igniting their passion and determination to succeed.”

The MPPG reports to Grunsfeld, who chairs the agency-wide Mars reformulation effort along with William Gerstenmaier, NASA’s associate administrator for Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, Chief Scientist Waleed Abdalati and Chief Technologist Mason Peck. The official draft MPPG report is expected to be delivered to NASA for review at the end of the summer.

Concepts put forth tapped into significant benefits that could be gained from technology investments by NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, and Office of the Chief Technologist. The participants also stressed the importance of establishing international collaboration early in the planning process and sustaining it throughout future missions.

“Future Mars exploration missions will require new concepts and technologies,” said Michael Gazarik, director of NASA’s Space Technology Program. “There were many innovative and transformational concepts presented at the workshop. With continued investments in cutting-edge technology, these will lead to increased capability, reduced mission risk and lower mission costs.”

Workshop attendance included almost 200 scientists, engineers and graduate students from academia, NASA centers, federal laboratories, industry, and international partner organizations. More than 1,600 people participated online as the workshop proceedings were streamed live on the Internet.

“The LPI workshop provided a broad set of ideas for Mars exploration, including synergies between science, human exploration and technology development,” Gerstenmaier said. “The number of workshop participants demonstrates the broad interest in Mars exploration.”

The workshop provided a forum for broad community input on near-term mission concepts. Ideas for longer-term activities will be used to inform program architecture planning beyond the early 2020s. Workshop results represent individual perspectives from members of the scientific and technical community.

“The scientific and technical community has given us quite a range of ideas to consider in reformulating the Mars Exploration Program,” said Doug McCuistion, director of NASA’s Mars Exploration Program at the agency’s headquarters. “Many concepts presented are highly relevant to the challenges the MPPG must address.”

NASA will land its most advanced rover, Curiosity, on the surface of Mars in August. This mobile science laboratory will assess whether the past or present environment on Mars could 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 LPI’s report, workshop presentation videos, and compilation of the abstracts, visit http://www.lpi.usra.edu/meetings/marsconcepts2012/.




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


 
 

 
nasa-hubble

NASA unveils celestial fireworks as official image for Hubble 25th Anniversary

The brilliant tapestry of young stars flaring to life resemble a glittering fireworks display in the 25th anniversary NASA Hubble Space Telescope image, released to commemorate a quarter century of exploring the solar system an...
 
 
NASA illustration

NASA awards radiation challenge winners, launches next round

NASA illustration This illustration depicts our heliosphere, showing the approximate locations of Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 spacecraft. Galactic cosmic rays originate outside the heliosphere and stream in uniformly from all direc...
 
 
NASA photograph

Celebrate with NASA as agency commemorates Hubble’s 25th anniversary

NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope is turning 25 this year. The observatory has transformed our understanding of our solar system and beyond, and helped us find our place among the stars. NASA is celebrating the Hubble Space T...
 

 

ULA unveils America’s new rocket

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=emmeil-0u5k&feature=player_embedded United Launch Alliance unveiled its Next Generation Launch System April 13 at the 31st Space Symposium. The new rocket, Vulcan, will transform the future of space by making launch services more affordable and accessible. The NGLS brings together decades of experience on ULA’s reliable Atlas and Delta vehicles, combin...
 
 
NASA/JHU APL/Carnegie Institution of Washington

NASA spacecraft achieves unprecedented success studying Mercury

NASA/JHU APL/Carnegie Institution of Washington NASA’s MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging (MESSENGER) spacecraft traveled more than six and a half years before it was inserted into orbit around Merc...
 
 

NASA selects American small business, research institution projects for further development

NASA has selected 149 research and technology proposals from American small businesses and research institutions that will enable NASA’s future missions into the solar system and beyond while benefiting America’s technology-driven economy right here on Earth. The selected proposals now will enter into negotiations for contract awards as part of Phase II of the agency’s...
 




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>