NASA Selects Proposals for Future Mars Missions and Studies

Jan 09, 2007

On Monday, NASA selected for concept study development two proposals for future robotic missions to Mars. These missions would increase understanding of Mars' atmosphere, climate and potential habitability in greater detail than ever before.

In addition, NASA also will fund a U.S. scientist to participate in a proposed European Mars mission as well as fund instrument technology studies that could lead to further contributions to future Mars missions.

"These mission selections represent unprecedented future research that will lead to further advancing our knowledge and understanding of the Red Planet's climate, and atmospheric composition," said Mary Cleave, associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, NASA Headquarters, Washington.

Each Mars mission proposal will receive initial funding of approximately $2 million to conduct a nine-month implementation feasibility study. Following these detailed mission concept studies, NASA intends to select one of the two proposals by late 2007 for full development as a Mars Scout mission. The mission developed for flight would have a launch opportunity in 2011 and cost no more than $475 million.

The selected Mars mission proposals are:

* Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution mission, or MAVEN: The mission would provide first-of-its-kind measurements and address key questions about Mars climate and habitability and improve understanding of dynamic processes in the upper Martian atmosphere and ionosphere. The principal investigator is Bruce Jakosky, University of Colorado, Boulder. NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md., will provide project management.

* The Great Escape mission: The mission would directly determine the basic processes in Martian atmospheric evolution by measuring the structure and dynamics of the upper atmosphere. In addition, potentially biogenic atmospheric constituents such as methane would be measured. The principal investigator is Alan Stern, Southwest Research Institute, Boulder, Colorado. Southwest Research Institute, San Antonio, will provide project management.

NASA has selected Alian Wang of Washington University, St. Louis, to participate as a member of the science team for the European Space Agency's ExoMars mission. Wang will receive approximately $800,000 to study the chemistry, mineralogy and astrobiology of Mars using instrumentation on the ExoMars mission, scheduled for launch in 2013.

NASA also has selected two proposals for technology development studies that may lead to further NASA contributions to ExoMars or other Mars missions. The two technology development studies, funded for a total of $1.5 million, are:

* Urey Mars Organic and Oxidant Detector: The Urey instrument would investigate organics and oxidant materials on Mars using three complementary detection systems. The principal investigator is Jeffrey Bada, University of California at San Diego.

* Mars Organic Molecule Analyzer, or MOMA: The instrument would investigate organic molecular signatures and the environment in which they exist using a mass spectrometer and gas chromatograph. The principal investigator is Luann Becker, University of California at Santa Barbara.

These selections were judged to have the best science value among 26 proposals submitted to NASA in August 2006 in response to an open announcement of opportunity.

NASA's Mars Exploration Program seeks to characterize and understand Mars as a dynamic system, including its present and past environment, climate cycles, geology and biological potential. The Mars Exploration Program Office is managed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., for the Mars Exploration Program, Science Mission Directorate, Washington.

Source: NASA

Explore further: Image: Shimmering salt lake seen by Proba-V

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

A recipe for returning Pluto to full planethood

Feb 20, 2015

A storm is brewing, a battle of words and a war of the worlds. The Earth is not at risk. It is mostly a civil dispute, but it has the potential to influence the path of careers. In 2014, a Harvard led debate ...

Why can't we design the perfect spacesuit?

Feb 19, 2015

So far, every spacesuit humans have utilized has been designed with a specific mission and purpose in mind. As of yet, there's been no universal or "perfect" spacesuit that would fit every need. For example, ...

Recommended for you

Image: Training for Sentinel-2A launch

4 hours ago

On 25 February, the Sentinel-2A Mission Control Team at ESOC, ESA's mission operations centre, Darmstadt, Germany, commenced simulation training for the critical launch and early orbit phase.

Why don't we search for different life?

Mar 03, 2015

If we really want to find life on other worlds, why do we keep looking for life based on carbon and water? Why don't we look for the stuff that's really different?

OSIRIS catches glimpse of Rosetta's shadow

Mar 03, 2015

Several days after Rosetta's close flyby of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko on 14 February 2015, images taken on this day by OSIRIS, the scientific imaging system on board, have now been downlinked to Earth. ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.