Robert Zubrin started the Mars Society nearly two decades ago with the dream of creating a human settlement on the Red Planet.
“The time has come for humanity to journey to Mars!” he announced one night in the summer of 1998, at the group’s founding convention in Boulder, Colo. He then read the society’s Founding Declaration: “We must go, not for us, but for the people who are yet to be. We must do it for the Martians.”
This reporter was there and filed a story for The Washington Post’s Style section. In the years since, Zubrin has continued to lobby for humans to go to Mars — though no one has managed to get beyond low Earth orbit since the last moon landing in 1972. Until recently, NASA branded virtually everything it was doing as part of a “Journey to Mars,” and Mars remains the horizon goal. The destination was even mandated in a recent congressional authorization act for NASA that was signed by President Trump.
In the meantime, NASA has more modest plans — and these plans don’t please Zubrin, for one.
NASA wants to put a “spaceport” in orbit around the moon. It would be a habitat for astronauts on long-duration missions. You could call it a “space station” if you wanted, though it wouldn’t be nearly as big as the one that’s circling the Earth right now. NASA refers to it as the Deep Space Gateway and describes it as “a crew tended spaceport in lunar orbit.”
This is NASA’s next big human spaceflight project, which is supposed to materialize in the mid-2020s. Astronauts would live in the spaceport for as much as a year at a time.
The agency’s stated goal is to test the systems necessary for a human mission to Mars. Any Mars mission would take something on the order of 2½ years round-trip, with seven or eight months in transit each way. On a Mars mission, there’s no turning around halfway. The crew can’t be resupplied. The life support system can’t be swapped out when something goes wrong. There are no pit stops — no oases in interplanetary space where one could pause to slake one’s thirst.
So NASA wants to do what effectively would be a trial run, only at a point in space just three days away by rocket transport (as opposed to the International Space Station, which is more like three hours away).
The NASA lunar spaceport plan has the redeeming feature of being technologically doable in the near term under plausible budgets. But it’s also a far more modest goal than sending humans to Mars.
Zubrin, for one, thinks it’s a terrible idea.
“NASA’s Worst Plan Yet” blares the headline in National Review over Zubrin’s byline. He opens with a reference to the now-defunct, “absurd” Asteroid Redirect Mission developed by NASA under President Barack Obama (The Washington Post described it as “NASA’s Mission Improbable.”) Then Zubrin writes: “Amazingly, the space agency has managed to come up with an even dumber idea.”
Zubrin considers the lunar spaceport a waste of money — an idea designed merely as a way to give the new Space Launch System rocket and Orion capsule somewhere to go.
We caught up with Zubrin on Tuesday at the Newseum, where he participated in a forum sponsored by the Atlantic titled “On the Launchpad: Return to Deep Space.” (Among others speaking at the forum were Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), NASA Acting Administrator Robert Lightfoot and former NASA chief scientist Ellen Stofan.)
“What we have right now is just drift — it’s not a program,” Zubrin told the forum. He said the lunar spaceport is not needed to go to Mars or even to the surface of the moon. It’s just a way to spend money, he said: “There is not a plan. This is random activity.”
After the presentations, Zubrin gave The Post some additional thoughts on what he perceives as NASA’s failure to come up with a bold and coherent plan. He said that in the long history of NASA studies on the future of human spaceflight — and there is a long list of these lengthy reports — no one ever suggested that an orbital lunar outpost was a necessary part of an exploration program. Part of the problem, as he sees it, is the agency’s recent announcement that the first, uncrewed flight of the Space Launch System rocket will be delayed again, to 2019: “The tragedy of SLS is not that it is being delayed. The tragedy is that it doesn’t matter that it’s being delayed, because there’s nothing for it to launch anyway.”
John Logsdon, professor emeritus of the Space Policy Institute at George Washington University, weighed in on Zubrin’s comments.
“Robert has always lived in a parallel universe of what ought to be rather than what is,” Logsdon said gently as Zubrin stood beside him.
We asked Logsdon why NASA is building this spaceport in lunar orbit.
“It’s a sneaky way to go back to the moon,” he said.
Zubrin chimed in, “If you want to go back to the moon, go back to the moon!”
The backstory here is that President George W. Bush had a back-to-the-moon program, called Constellation. Obama killed it. Two of the three big elements of that program — a heavy-lift rocket and a new crew capsule — were preserved by powerful members of the Senate. The result is that NASA is spending billions of dollars on hardware to put astronauts in the vicinity of the moon, but there’s no way to get them down to the surface. If an international partner offered up the money for a lander, NASA presumably could put astronauts back on the moon.
Mary Lynne Dittmar, who advocates on behalf of the aerospace industry as head of the Coalition for Deep Space Exploration, defended the NASA plans on stage, and then again in an interview with The Post. We asked her about Logsdon’s suggestion that NASA’s lunar spaceport is really a way to get humans back on the moon.
“It’s not sneaky,” she said, and pointed us to a NASA request for proposals for ways to deliver cargo to and from the lunar surface. She said the Deep Space Gateway makes sense: “Think of the ISS as the first foothold. This is the second foothold.”
Everyone agrees that Mars is the horizon goal. But Mars is hard. The moon is close, cosmically speaking. We are already seeing a shift toward “commercial” spaceflight, so it could be that the first people on Mars will arrive in spaceships with private company logos and participating in a reality TV show. (Crazier things have happened!) Elon Musk really wants to go to Mars with SpaceX, and his drive and ambition are not to be discounted. Jeffrey P. Bezos (disclosure: he owns The Washington Post) has invested much of his fortune in the rocket company Blue Origin, and he repeatedly has said he wants lots of people doing lots of things in space.
So where will NASA be in, say, 2027?
Logsdon said, “Humans will be back on the moon.”
Zubrin agreed: “I think that’s possible actually — if you’re asking me what is likely, rather than what I’d like.”
Los Angeles is known the world over for boundless optimism and opportunity, for the manifestation of dreams through risk taking, ingenuity, an embrace of entrepreneurs, and craftsmen, of science, business, design, and artistry. Our communities are rich with expertise and resources. Too often, our learning spaces are isolated from the vitality of the surrounding community. As a result, students interpret this to mean that learning and creative work is solely a feature of school. In order for students to see a connection between school-based education, career, and life, we need to create bridges between them.
Green Dot Public Schools’ commitment to students’ potential means providing an educational space where students, teachers, and professionals can meet and collaborate to develop real world skills and think in unconventional ways. The JetSpace at Alain Leroy Locke College Preparatory Academy is an example of such a space.
The JetSpace is a recently renovated 21st century innovation space and library. The space is modern, open, bright, and brimming with technology and creative space. It provides an opportunity for students to engage with inspiring mentors from a wide variety of professional backgrounds, exercise creativity, and build self-directed learning skills, often with the aid of cutting edge technology (e.g., virtual reality, 3D printing, robotics).
The JetSpace is also a launchpad for learning journeys beyond the school environment, including guided field trips to corporate campuses, internships, experiences, and site based projects.
“I feel like I’m in a different neighborhood”, said one Locke High School student entering the JetSpace for the first time.
Excitement follows the surprise. Teachers and staff have witnessed high levels of engagement and sustained interest in JetSpace activities. Students are keen to connect to professionals in their community who can expand their horizons, inspire them and also demystify the world of work. And it turns out that many professionals feel richly rewarded sharing their expertise and professional trajectories with young minds and passions.
“We want people like you – designers, architects – in here. People who build things!” offered a student at a recent professional panel session on design mind.
During the inaugural 2015-2016 school year, JetSpace offered two deep dive pilot programs – a Shoe Design Program with Vans and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where students created innovative shoe soles, and a Future of Fashion Program with NASA and MIT, in which students learned about the growing frontier of wearable tech and created products of their own using 3D printing technologies. Both programs introduced students to Design Thinking, the process of identifying a problem, conducting research, ideating, creating prototypes, getting feedback, and iterating.
Facilitators taught students how to identify problems, and then supported them in developing a collaborative problem solving environment, relevant skills, and the confidence to address the issues and provide solutions.
“It’s a thrill to be in this space right now and to see students comfortably learning,” says MIT Program Manager, Leigh B. Estabrooks. “They’re taking books off shelves and engaging in conversations. Often times it takes the right environment for Design Thinking to thrive, and that’s not common in the typical classroom,” says Estabrooks.
The JetSpace and its programs help link learning to college and career. At a practical level, the space connects students to internship and career opportunities. Vans and NASA professionals have proven dedicated to networking with all students, and to providing additional opportunities for students that applied themselves and excelled. Students manifested their ideas and created tangible examples of their work – shoe designs for water sports, hiking, and basketball, wearable tech that addressed safety issues as well as fashion trends.
In the pilot phase, forty students engaged in innovative learning programs that taught Design Thinking and engineering principles. Working with professionals in their community, they built important relationships, skills, and a new found sense of confidence in the application of their learning and ideas.
As we begin the 2016-17 school year, the JetSpace is ready to accelerate student growth by offering an exciting menu of experiences, deep dive innovative learning programs, and available technology offered in collaboration with a corps of the finest educators and mentors in Los Angeles.
NASA asks science community for Europa Lander Instruments ideas
by Staff Writers
Washington DC (SPX) May 18, 2017
NASA is asking scientists to consider what would be the best instruments to include on a mission to land on Jupiter’s icy moon, Europa.
NASA Wednesday informed the science community to prepare for a planned competition to select science instruments for a potential Europa lander.
While a Europa lander mission is not yet approved by NASA, the agency’s Planetary Science Division has funding in Fiscal Year 2017 to conduct the announcement of opportunity process.
“The possibility of placing a lander on the surface of this intriguing icy moon, touching and exploring a world that might harbor life is at the heart of the Europa lander mission,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. “We want the community to be prepared for this announcement of opportunity, because NASA recognizes the immense amount of work involved in preparing proposals for this potential future exploration.”
The community announcement provides advance notice of NASA’s plan to hold a competition for instrument investigations for a potential Europa lander mission. Proposed investigations will be evaluated and selected through a two-step competitive process to fund development of a variety of relevant instruments and then to ensure the instruments are compatible with the mission concept.
Approximately 10 proposals may be selected to proceed into a competitive Phase A. The Phase A concept study will be limited to approximately 12 months with a $1.5 million budget per investigation. At the conclusion of these studies, NASA may select some of these concepts to complete Phase A and subsequent mission phases.
Investigations will be limited to those addressing the following science objectives, which are listed in order of decreasing priority:
+ Search for evidence of life on Europa
+ Assess the habitability of Europa via in situ techniques uniquely available to a lander mission
+ Characterize surface and subsurface properties at the scale of the lander
In early 2016, in response to a congressional directive, NASA’s Planetary Science Division began a study to assess the science and engineering design of a future Europa lander mission. NASA routinely conducts such studies – known as Science Definition Team (SDT) reports – long before the start of any mission to gain an understanding of the challenges, feasibility and science value of the potential mission. The 21-member team began work almost one year ago, submitting a report to NASA on Feb. 7.
The agency briefed the community on the Europa Lander SDT study at recent town halls at the 2017 Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (LPSC) at The Woodlands, Texas, and the Astrobiology Science Conference (AbSciCon) in Mesa, Arizona.
The proposed Europa lander is separate from and would follow its predecessor – the Europa Clipper multiple flyby mission – which now is in preliminary design phase and planned for launch in the early 2020s. Arriving in the Jupiter system after a journey of several years, the spacecraft would orbit the planet about every two weeks, providing opportunities for 40 to 45 flybys in the prime mission. The Clipper spacecraft would image Europa’s icy surface at high resolution, and investigate its composition and structure of its interior and icy shell.
Wednesday’s community announcement in no way obligates NASA to solicit future proposals.
1 1 Science Perspectives for Candidate Mars Mission Architectures for 2016-2026 Mars Architecture Tiger Team (MATT-3) Philip Christensen, Chair Presented to MEPAG March 3, 2009 NOTE ADDED BY JPL WEBMASTER: This document was prepared by Arizona State University. The content has not been approved or adopted by, NASA, JPL, or the California Institute of Technology. This document is being made available for information purposes only, and any views and opinions expressed herein do not necessarily state or reflect those of NASA, JPL, or the California Institute of Technology.
2 MATT-3 Interim Report: for discussion purposes only 2 MATT-3 Study: Participants Phil Christensen (ASU, Chair) Lars Borg (ND-SAG Co-Chair) Wendy Calvin (MSO SAG Chair) Mike Carr Dave DesMarais (ND-SAG Co-Chair) Francois Forget Noel Hinners Scott Murchie (MSS SAG Chair) Jack Mustard (MEPAG Chair) Lisa Pratt Mike Smith (MSO SDT Chair) Steve Squyres Christophe Sotin NASA HQ Dave Lavery Lisa May Michael Meyer (MEP Lead Scientist) JPL Mars Office Deborah Bass Dave Beaty Charles Budney Joy Crisp Frank Jordan Tomas Komarek Richard Mattingly Richard Zurek
3 MATT-3 Interim Report: for discussion purposes only 3 MATT-3 Study: Key Directives Focus on a program that achieves fundamental science and addresses the highest priority goals for Mars Exploration Note: Black text => Essentially Unchanged from MATT-2 Assess potential program architectures for a NASA-only program*, with an emphasis on the 2016, 2018, and 2020 opportunities, in light of: –The MSL launch slip to 2011 and the associated reduction in funding available for a 2016 mission Assume (for discussion only; budgets have not been decided) ~$700M for 2016 mission (through launch); ~$1.3B for 2018 –Recent discoveries (including the published report on methane) *NOTE: The directive to consider a NASA only program is not intended to preclude international partnering. In fact, there are ongoing discussions between NASA and ESA on potential collaborations for Mars. MATT-3 may be asked to consider the gain from such collaborations as the opportunities are defined.
4 MATT-3 Interim Report: for discussion purposes only 4 MATT-3 Study: Context MATT-3 study builds on earlier work: NRC: –NRC Reports and Decadal Survey Major Milestone: NRC Special Committee (drawn largely from the NRC Committee on Evolution and Life) and Report: An Astrobiology Strategy for Exploration of Mars MEPAG: –MEPAG Goals, Objectives,Investigations documentation –Mars Next Decade (ND) and Mars Strategic Science (MSS) SAGs –MATT-1 and MATT-2 Discussions –Consulted the JPL Mars Office Advanced Studies Team regarding mission costs and feasibility
5 MATT-3 Interim Report: for discussion purposes only 5 MATT-3 Questions 1)Are there any changes to the goals and guiding principles described by MATT-2? 2)Are there any changes to the rationale for a Mars Program? 3)Are the individual mission building blocks identified by MATT still appropriate? 4)What is the long-term (20-year) focus of the Mars Program – i.e. are there alternatives to MSR as the primary objective of the 3 rd decade? 5)Given the limited funds available for 2016, what are the primary mission options and possible priorities for a U. S. only program? Does the discovery of methane apparently varying in space and time cause MEP to emphasize a more astrobiological pathway? 6)What are science objectives and program goals for a possible 2018 rover/lander in a U.S. only program?
6 MATT-3 Interim Report: for discussion purposes only 6 MATT-3 Activities to Date MATT-3 proceeded as follows: –Met three times via telecon over the past month. Additional discussions are planned following the MEPAG meeting to incorporate MEPAG discussion into the final report. This is a mid-term debriefing to MEPAG. –Revisited the science goals for potential missions in 2016 and beyond. These goals: Are consistent with the “Explore Habitable Environments” theme Are responsive to the NRC/Decadal Survey Priorities Address MEPAG Goals, Objectives and Investigations –Reexamined the major program goals, guiding principles, and mission “building blocks” that address the mission science goals for the decade Building blocks include: MSR, MPR, MSO/MSO-lite, NET, Scout –Mission “blocks” identified at a high level–see following slides –Revaluated potential architectures against the MSL launch slip, the expected MEP budget, and new discoveries
7 MATT-3 Interim Report: for discussion purposes only 7 Goals for the Next Decade The MEP has “followed the water” and discovered a diverse suite of water-related features and environments. –There are unanswered questions about each of these environments that MER showed can be addressed with in situ measurements –There are also unanswered questions about present habitability, especially whether trace gases are a signature of present habitable environments –There remain major questions about the state of the interior and the history of tectonic, volcanic, aqueous processes that are highly relevant to habitable environments The focus on future missions should be “explore habitable environments” of the past and present, including the “how, when and why” of environmental change. Key measurements are: –Rock and mineral textures, grain- to outcrop-scale mineralogy, and elemental abundances & gradients in different classes of aqueous deposits –Abundances and spatial/temporal variations of trace gases and isotopes in the present atmosphere –Nature and history of the interior and of processes shaping the surface The most comprehensive measurements of water-formed deposits would be made on returned samples
8 MATT-3 Interim Report: for discussion purposes only 8 Re-affirmed Program Rationale Mars has a unique combination of characteristics that translate into high science priority for Mars exploration –Diverse surface deposits whose mineralogy and morphology provide evidence for environments habitable by life, and evidence for methane that could indicate persistence of wet environments –Accessibility to robotic and human missions, with feedback into follow-on investigations on a decadal time-scale Questions pertaining to past & present habitable environments and their geologic context should drive future exploration: –When and where did liquid water persist with a sufficiently high activity to support life? Did life or pre-biotic chemistry develop? –What drove a fundamental change, from the Noachian to Hesperian periods, in the surface environment recorded in aqueous deposits? –How did Mars’ internal evolution influence the surface environment? Both landed and orbital investigations are required to address these questions. Their sequential nature & the need for orbital assets to support landed science dictate a coherent program.
9 MATT-3 Interim Report: for discussion purposes only 9 MATT Study: Expected Outcomes The MEP mission architectures developed by MATT for 2013- 2026 strive to achieve the following objectives: Investigate the physics, chemistry, and dynamics of the upper atmosphere, the effects of solar wind and radiation, and the escape of volatiles to space => MAVEN Determine the composition and structure of the current atmosphere => MSO/MSO-lite Explore a diversity of surface environments using rovers with sample acquisition, analysis, and caching capabilities => MPR Investigate the deep interior using a network of landed geophysical experiments => NET Return carefully selected and well-documented samples from a potentially habitable environment to Earth for detailed analysis => MSR+precursors Respond to new discoveries through focused missions => Scout, as well as strategic missions
10 MATT-3 Interim Report: for discussion purposes only 10 MATT-3 Guiding Principles (1 of 3) MATT-3 developed these strategic principles to guide mission architecture development: Conduct a Mars Sample Return Mission (MSR) at the earliest opportunity, while recognizing that the timing of MSR is budget driven. –Returned samples to meet minimum requirements set out in the ND-SAG report MEP should proceed with a balanced scientific program while taking specific steps toward a MSR mission –Immediately start and sustain a technology program to focus on specific sample return issues including, but not limited to, precision landing and sample handling => MSL delay has eliminated early funding for technology –Address non-MSR high priority science objectives, particularly as endorsed by NRC strategies and the Decadal Survey (sample return, aeronomy, network) Conduct major surface landings no more than 4 launch opportunities apart (3 is preferred) in order to: –Respond to discoveries from previous surface missions and new discoveries from orbit –Use developed technologies and experienced personnel to reduce risk and cost to future missions, especially MSR –Implies launch of rover mission in 2018 or 2020
11 MATT-3 Interim Report: for discussion purposes only 11 MATT Guiding Principles (2 of 3) Controlling costs and cost risk is vital and can be achieved in the near-term while still making progress on science objectives by: –Utilizing the technology investment of MEP (landing systems, orbiters, aeroshells, and rovers) as much as possible for future landed missions –Not taking on too many technological objectives in any one Mars mission, even while making real progress toward MSR Require that landed missions leading to MSR: –Demonstrate elements of the sample acquisition and caching technologies or prepare an actual sample cache for MSR that meets the minimum requirements set out in the ND-SAG report –Preparation of the actual cache could be triggered by earlier discovery at a landed site –Provide scientific feed-forward to MSR by: Investigating new sites to explore the diversity of Mars revealed from orbit and to provide an optimized choice for MSR (may require precision landing) Utilizing new instrumentation and/or new access capability (e.g., drilling) at the same site to follow up a discovery
12 MATT-3 Interim Report: for discussion purposes only 12 MATT Guiding Principles (3 of 3) Provide long-lived orbiters to observe the atmosphere and seasonal surface change, and to provide telecom and critical event support –Provides flexibility to MSR flight configurations and is especially synergistic with network science and telecom needs Scout missions are included in the architecture to provide: –Rapid, innovative response to new discoveries –Opportunity to sustain program balance and diversity –Low-cost Scout missions were inserted as opportunities permitted and budget profiles demanded
13 MATT-3 Interim Report: for discussion purposes only 13 MEP Building Blocks for 2016-2026 (1 of 3) MATT-1, -2, and -3 identified these potential mission building blocks to address the key scientific objectives for 2016- 2026: Mars Sample Return Lander (MSR-L) and Orbiter (MSR-O): –Two flight elements: Lander/Rover/Ascent Vehicle & Orbiter/Capture/Return Vehicle –High-priority in NRC reports and Decadal Survey; must address multiple science goals with samples meeting the minimum requirements set out in the ND-SAG report Mars Science Orbiter (MSO and MSO-lite) –Atmospheric composition, state, and surface climatology remote sensing plus telecom Respond to reported (and now published) methane discovery –Science Definition Team formed and report given to MEP –MSO-lite assessed by MSO-SDT (see later summary)
14 MATT-3 Interim Report: for discussion purposes only 14 MEP Building Blocks for 2016-2026 (2 of 3) MATT identified these potential mission building blocks to address the key scientific objectives for 2016-2026 (cont.): Mars Prospector Rover (MPR, also called Mid-Range Rover) –At least MER-class rover deployed to new water-related geologic targets –Precision landing (<6-km diameter error ellipse) enables access to new sites –Conducts independent science but with scientific and technical feed-forward to MSR –As a precursor, this can demonstrate feed-forward capabilities for MSR and opens the possibility for payload trade-offs (e.g., caching and cache delivery) with MSR Lander Network (NET): –4 or more landed stations arrayed in a geophysical network to characterize interior structure, composition, and process, as well as surface environments –Meteorological measurements are leveraged by concurrent remote sensing from orbit –High-priority in NRC reports and Decadal Survey
15 MATT-3 Interim Report: for discussion purposes only 15 MEP Building Blocks for 2016-2026 (3 of 3) MATT identified these potential mission building blocks to address the key scientific objectives for 2016-2026 (cont.): Mars Scout Missions (Scout) –Competed missions to pursue innovative thrusts to major missions goals MATT-3 discussed the possibility of developing a “vertical sampling” building block as an additional component of the Mars architecture –Could be responsive to potential MSL or ExoMars discoveries
16 MATT-3 Interim Report: for discussion purposes only 16 MSO-Lite Study Report Summary – M. Smith Chair MSO-min: Minimum mission could follow up on the methane discovery within the harsh constraints outlined for a 2016 U.S. Mars mission Will significantly improve knowledge of atmospheric composition and chemistry within the context of understanding Mars habitability Extend record of climatology to characterize long-term trends for climate & transport model validation MSO-lite: Augmented mission can provide significant gain given increased resources or foreign partnering More detailed mapping to identify localized source regions Validate and significantly improve knowledge of current climate and models of transport, including inverse modeling for gas sources MSO: Full-up mission provides opportunity for all of the above, longer life, surface change detection and site certification Note: Telecom support included in all concepts
17 MATT-3 Interim Report: for discussion purposes only 17 Mission Scenarios – MATT-2 Option201620182020 #2 2022 # 2 2024 2026 Comments 2018a #1 MSR-OMSR-LMSONETScoutMPRFunded if major discovery? 2018b #1 MSOMSR-LMSR-ONETScoutMPRRestarts climate record; trace gases 2018c #1 MPRMSR-LMSR-OMSONETScoutGap in climate record; telecom? 2020aMPRMSOMSR-LMSR-ONETScoutMPR helps optimize MSR 2020bMPRScoutMSR-LMSR-OMSONETGap in climate record, early Scout 2022aMPRMSONETMSR-LMSR-OScoutEarly NET; MPR helps MSR 2022bMSOMPRNETMSR-LMSR-OScoutEarly NET, but 8 years between major landers (MSL to MPR) 2024aMPRMSONETScoutMSR-LMSR-OEarly NET; 8 years between major landers; very late sample return MSO = Mars Science Orbiter MPR = Mars Science Prospector (MER or MSL class Rover with precision landing and sampling/caching capability) MSR = Mars Sample Return Orbiter (MSR-O) and Lander/Rover/MAV (MSR-L) NET = Mars Network Landers (“Netlander”) mission FOOTNOTES: #1 Requires early peak funding well above the guidelines; 2018b most affordable of these options #2 Celestial mechanics are most demanding in the 2020 and 2022 launch opportunities; arrival conditions (Mars atmospheric pressure, dust opacity) challenging after 2020 Preferred Scenario for given MSR-L Launch Opportunity
18 MATT-3 Interim Report: for discussion purposes only 18 Mission Scenarios – MATT-3 Option20162018202020222024 2026 Comments 2014-2018 budget guideline precludes MSR before 2022 2022-M3.1 [2022b] MSO- lite #1 MPR #2 NETMSR-LMSR-OScoutMPR occurs 2 periods before 2022 MSR, which will need additional funding for tech development 2024-M3.2 [Swap in 2022b] MSO- lite #1 MPR #2 NETMSR-OMSR-LScoutGives chance for robust technology program preparing for MSR and time to respond to MPR tech demo 2024-M3.3 [Swaps in 2024a] MSO- lite #1 NETMPRScoutMSR-LMSR-OLowest cost early, but 8 years between MSL & MPR; MPR 2 periods before MSR; early NET MSO = Mars Science Orbiter MPR = Mars Science Prospector (MER or MSL class Rover with precision landing and sampling/caching capability) MSR = Mars Sample Return Orbiter (MSR-O) and Lander/Rover/MAV (MSR-L) NET = Mars Network Landers mission FOOTNOTES: #1 MSO-lite affordable for $750M; preferable to MSO-min in order to map potential localized sources of key trace gases #2 MPR may exceed the guideline ~$1.3B ($1.6B required?) Preferred Scenario for given MSR-L Launch Opportunity
19 MATT-3 Interim Report: for discussion purposes only 19 Proposed Architectures A Mars Sample Return mission remains an anchor point of the Mars Exploration Program MSO-lite in 2016 provides the broad atmospheric survey and mapping needed to follow-up the reported methane discoveries and to investigate the nature of its origin Given the conditions of an MSL launch slip to 2011 and reduced funding for the 2016 mission, MATT finds three near- term mission architectures to be scientifically compelling, while providing real progress towards an MSR. Furthermore, these three scenarios are closely related to the recommendations of MATT-1 and -2, and have the same initial missions as the latter, though typically reversed, in 2016 and 2018. This architecture accomplishes the previous Decadal Survey high priority mission goals (aeronomy, network, sample return) while responding to recent discoveries by MEP
20 MATT-3 Interim Report: for discussion purposes only 20 Issues, Findings, and Future Work (1 of 2) The implications of potential MSL and ExoMars results need further study in order to define the full suite of possibilities for the landed mission in 2018. –For example, an MSL discovery indicating the need for a significant change of payload (e.g., new instruments) or the need for vertical drilling may necessitate altering the architectures for 2018 and 2020. – This analysis should assess the options of: The MPR rover concept (e.g. precision landing, different site with MER-class payload, sample caching): A rover with significant in situ astrobiological science (ExoMars-like?) Vertical sampling capability versus sample coring and caching Is a “vertical sampling” mission building block needed? Starting and sustaining a technology program to focus on specific sample return issues including, but not limited to, precision landing and sample handling, is essential to reducing risk and controlling cost for MSR and precursors A#1 A#n => Actions MEPAG may want to pursue A#2
21 MATT-3 Interim Report: for discussion purposes only 21 Issues, Findings, and Future Work (2 of 2) MATT finds that MSO-lite (preferred to MSO-min) is an affordable, highly valuable scientific mission for 2016. Does MEPAG agree? MEPAG may wish to consider the consequences of MSO-lite instead of MSO in the context of the long-range architecture choices. These consequences include: –Loss of follow-on of HiRISE-class imaging for site certification –Possible loss of meter-scale imaging for change detection –Reduced telecom capability or duration –Further reduction to MSO-min jeopardizes the ability to identify potential localized trace gas sources MEPAG should consider how best to prepare for the selection of future landing sites –What are the implications if follow-on high-resolution imaging is not available from MSO-lite? –Should a landing site selection process be established now to best utilize the existing missions for the future program? A#3 A#4
22 MATT-3 Interim Report: for discussion purposes only 22 Summary (1 of 2) Mars Sample Return remains an anchor point of the Mars Exploration Program and should be conducted at the earliest opportunity within the available budget constraints MSO-lite would make a significant scientific contribution to our understanding of martian trace gases and atmospheric state, and could be achieved in a U.S.-only program for 2016 Given the conditions of an MSL launch slip to 2011 and reduced funding for the 2016 mission, the preferred architecture is: –Now: Start technology program focused on developments that enable MPR and feed-forward to MSR –2016: Launch Mars Science Orbiter (MSO-lite: trace gas survey, atmospheric state, telecom support) –2018: Launch Mars Prospector Rover (MPR) to a new site –2020: Launch Network Mission (NET) –2022-2024: Launch MSR-L and MSR-O
23 MATT-3 Interim Report: for discussion purposes only 23 Summary (2 of 2) Future landed missions should utilize the technology investment of MEP (landing systems, aeroshells, rovers, and orbiters) in order to contain cost and risk, while continuing to make significant progress toward Mars sample return MATT was directed to consider a NASA-only program and its findings are not meant to preclude international partnering. –Significant partnerships with non-NASA partners could considerably enhance the overall program –Many missions considered here are well-suited to international participation and partnering Prime examples for major subsystems or flight elements are MSR and Network Opportunities for participation also exist for MSO and MPR
24 MATT-3 Interim Report: for discussion purposes only 24 MATT-2 Option Is: Mars Exploration Program Launch Year 2022 20162018202020132011 2024 MAVEN Mars Prospector Rover Mars Network Mars Sample Return ExoMars (ESA) MSO
25 MATT-3 Interim Report: for discussion purposes only 25 MATT-3 Option Is: Mars Exploration Program Launch Year 2022 20162018202020132011 2024 MAVEN Mars Science Laboratory Mars Prospector Rover Mars Network Mars Sample Return ExoMars (ESA) MSO-lite
27 MATT-3 Interim Report: for discussion purposes only 27 Option: Mid-Range Rover/Prospector Concept: MER-Class Rover Deployed to New Class of Sites Goals: –Respond to recent discoveries showing a variety of aqueous mineral deposits and geomorphic structures reflecting water activity on Mars –Characterize site & prepare sample cache for possible retrieval by future MSR Approach: –MER-class payloads, with modest augmentation as capability allows –Takes advantage of latest EDL development and preserves it for MSR Key is access to new sites not reachable with current MER/MSL landing error ellipses –Updates “Sky Crane” technology to enable precision landing (< 6 km diameter ellipse) Capability needed to get to the most compelling sites Capability also useful for MSR collection/rendezvous to return samples –Conducts (“Prospector Option”) sample selection, encapsulation and general handling needed for MSR, provides retrievable sample cache Issues: –Requires (modest?) improvement of EDL system –Prospector concept requires development of sample handling capabilities –Requires new EDL design for implementation (I.e., cannot use MER/MSL technologies) –Builds on recent discoveries, but delays broadening scope of Mars science exploration
The Barboza Space Center was founded under the belief that students need hands on experience in the areas of STEAM++ (science, technology, engineering, visual and performing arts, mathematics, computer languages and foreign languages). Today, The Barboza Space Center is actively developing the technologies to prototype satellites, robots and Martian habitats with the ultimate goal of enabling humans to occupy Mars.
The Barboza Space Center is currently seeking talented individuals for our Fellowship Program at the CAMS High School location on the campus of California State University Dominquez Hills. The Barboza Space Center engineering Student Fellows play a significant role in the design, development, testing and manufacturing of spaceflight hardware. Here at The Barboza Space Center, you will obtain invaluable hands-on technical experience that you can’t learn in a classroom. Our engineering and science teams will help you to roll up your sleeves and apply textbook theory and lab experience to creating solutions for real aerospace challenges. You will gain practical experience by participating in actual space hardware design, building and repair projects. The most successful candidates for the Barboza Space Center Fellowship Program have a history of significant contributions to hands-on extracurricular engineering projects in addition to a strong academic record.
PREFERRED SKILLS AND EXPERIENCE:
Resume and Letter of Intent due to Ms. Shipman by May 15th at 4:30 pm.
Curiosity rover’s computer built for the rigors of Mars
BY WILLIAM HARWOOD
STORY WRITTEN FOR CBS NEWS “SPACE PLACE” & USED WITH PERMISSION
Posted: August 10, 2012
But the RAD750 PowerPC microprocessor built into the rover’s redundant flight computers has one enormous advantage: It was engineered to be virtually impervious to high-energy cosmic rays that would quickly cripple an iPhone or laptop computer.
The radiation-hardened single-card computers, built by BAE Systems in Manassas, Va., are designed to withstand charged ions and protons in interplanetary space or on the surface of Mars that can physically damage integrated circuits or trigger so-called “bit flips” in which the logic of the computer can be temporarily, or even permanently, disrupted.The RAD750s also meet lifetime dosage standards that are up to a million times more extreme than those considered fatal for a human being. As a result, over a 15-year period, the RAD750 chips aboard Curiosity would not be expected to suffer more than one external event requiring intervention from Earth.
“The RAD750 card is designed to accommodate all those single event effects and survive them,” Vic Scuderi, BAE business manager for satellite electronics, said in an interview. “The ultimate goal is one upset is allowed in 15 years. An upset means an intervention from Earth — one ‘blue screen of death’ in 15 years. We typically have contracts that (specify) that.”
Engineers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., plan to spend the next four days loading a major software update into Curiosity’s redundant flight computers, flushing out the no-longer-needed entry, descent and landing application and replacing it with software optimized for surface operations.
The R10 update includes programming to operate the rover’s sample acquisition instruments, its robot arm and its six-wheel drive system.
The new flight software was uplinked to Curiosity while the spacecraft was on the way to Mars. Starting late Friday, engineers will begin installing the R10 update in stepwise fashion, first on one computer and then on the other, testing as they go along to make sure all is well.
“Right now, we have the capability of just our basic surface software to check out the health of the instruments, but we don’t really have the capability to go and make the full use of all this great hardware we shipped to Mars,” said Ben Cichy, a senior software engineer at JPL.
“So the R10 software gives us the capability to use the robotic arm fully, to use the drill, to use the dust removal tool, to use the whole sampling chain, all this exciting stuff.”
Curiosity is a “martian megarover,” Cichy said. “Curiosity was born to drive, and so the R10 software includes the capability for Curiosity to really get out and stretch her wheels on the surface of Mars. So the R10 software gives us the autonomous driving capability, the ability for the rover to drive using on-board images to detect hazards that are around the rover and to drive safely across the surface of Mars.”
The rover is equipped with two computers, but only one is active at a time. Both are built around a radiation-hardened BAE RAD750 microchip operating at up to 200 megahertz. Each computer is equipped with 2 gigabytes of flash memory, 256 megabytes of random access memory and 256 kilobytes of erasable programmable read-only memory.
The BAE-provided RAD6000-based computers aboard the Mars Odyssey orbiter and the Spirit and Opportunity rovers are 10 times slower and feature eight times less memory than the RAD750 cards aboard Curiosity. The more powerful microchip also is used by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and will be integrated into the James Webb Space Telescope.
While their technical specifications appear to lag well behind the chips used in readily available consumer electronics, those devices don’t require anywhere near the rigorous design work, testing and qualification that goes into a space-rated processor.
“First, you have to develop the radiation hardening techniques and actually implement them in the design,” said Scott Doyle, a BAE systems engineer for satellite electronics. “The next step is you have to qualify each of those individual components and that qualification is normally a year, a year-and-a-half, just to do that.
“Then they get integrated on the board, and that board has to go through qualification activity to prove out the board. Then once that board gets integrated into the satellite at the system level, there’s several years worth of qualification testing that goes in at the satellite level. You add all that up, you’re talking five to eight years of qualification work.”
The resulting computers can cost anywhere from $200,000 to a half-million dollars. While all that might seem like overkill to an outsider, space-based computers simply have to work.
“There’s no repair man in space,” Doyle said.
But given the unavoidable limitations in processing speed and memory, Curiosity’s programmers face a daunting task when it comes to writing software.
“What’s hard about this, my phone has a processor that’s 10 times as fast as the processor that’s on Curiosity and it has 16 times as much storage as Curiosity has and my phone doesn’t have to land anything on Mars,” Cichy said. “All my phone has to do is follow (a friend’s) Twitter feed.
“So the challenging part about this is that my phone wouldn’t survive the journey to Mars, so we have to build computers that are robust enough to survive the harsh (environment of) interplanetary space. And when we do that, there are certain limitations we have and some of those limitations include the size of the flight software image that we have, and that forces us every now and then to update the flight software to add new capabilities.”
If all goes well, the R10 software update will be complete early next week.
Looking down the road to future spacecraft, BAE Systems is developing a quad-core processor for space-based applications that will run at gigahertz speeds and be capable of an enormous number of calculations, or instructions, per second. The new computers will be especially useful for image processing.
“It’s really going to be a matter of MIPS, that’s million instructions per second,” Scuderi said. “For the RAD750 today, the MIPS can get as high as 500. We’ll go into the gigabit, or gigamip, or gip, I guess will be the next (unit). Billions and gazillions how about that?” he joked.