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Meeting Minutes Mars Community Decadal Panel Telecon 19 Sep 2001

Status Report From: American Astronomical Society
Posted: Wednesday, September 19, 2001

Meeting Minutes

Mars Community Decadal Panel Telecon

Meeting #1, 19 September 2001

1:00 PM — 2:00 PM

ATTENDANTS

Jeffrey Moore, NASA Ames Research Center

Nadine Barlow, University of Central Florida

Donald Bogard, Johnson Space Center

Roger Clark. USGS

Albert Haldemann, JPL

Charles K. Shearer (Chip), Institute of Meteoritics, University of New Mexico,

Allan Treiman, LPI

John Wilson, Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, Princeton University

  1. Introduction by Jeff Moore, review of three issues to be addressed
    1. Consider the desirability of a separate, parallel Mars program (as it is currently)?
    2. Tempo and goals of the sample-return-directed "Mars Exploration Program" (MEP)
      1. New Mission road map (Scott Hubbard era)
      2. Input to the importance of the Scout program relative to the MEP
    3. Synergy with science at other targets
  2. First point raised regarding separate, parallel Mars program
    1. Donald Bogard: Increasing pressure to not put a fence around Mars program
    2. Donald Bogard: Mars program is a unique situation - great deal of resources placed on one object for long term
    3. Jeff Moore: Discussion regarding funding problems and delays gathered from "NASA Watch"
      1. MEP dropping 09 mission, 05 slipped to 07. . .
      2. Jeff speculates — government will not alter this year’s NASA budget and will sort out changes next year.
    4. Discussion on strategy for studying Mars, Donald Bogard makes the following points:
      1. Need to understand Mars more broadly
      2. Idea of life on Mars has torqued the emphasis of exploration
      3. Concerned about the growing complexity of the sample return issue, concerned about being programmatically locked in to preconceived notions about what Mars is like in context of science objectives
      4. Necessary to identify what we think we can do and what we can afford
  3. Jeff Moore: MEP — to what extent are we oriented toward sample return?
    1. Allan Treiman: Sample return is the ultimate part of MEP
      1. Actuality of sample return continuously pushed into the future
      2. Risk in strategy, long term strategy will not give us as broad based study as discussed 5 years ago
      3. Sample return essential part of strategy
    2. Jeff Moore: Is MEP no longer committed to sample return?
      1. Roger Clark: Discussion regarding data from TES (implications for finding aqueous deposits)
      2. Speakers Unknown: Discussion on Astrobiology
        1. Great danger in sending mission w/expectations for finding material (for astrobiology) and it is not found
    3. Speakers Unknown: Discussion about Mars being a volcanic planet
    4. Jeff Moore: To what extent do we commit ourselves on sample return?
      1. Jeff Moore: If we are not seeing aqueous deposits, do we propose another possibility?
      2. Nadine Barlow: Sample return will pin ages on Mars
      3. Speaker Unknown: Sample return portion will provide more meaning to everything else we are doing
    5. Jeff Moore: Issue is sample return is expensive and complex
      1. How do we articulate our view? and concerns?
      2. If no aqueous deposits — limited funding may become an issue
      3. Allan Treiman??: JPL has created greater complexity than need be for sample return — grab sample appropriate
      4. Jeff Moore: There are interesting samples on Mars whether they are aqueous or not
        1. Need to articulate that Mars is an interesting place whether or not they find aqueous deposits
        2. We should not focus on one kind of (or a preconceived) Mars
        3. Do not render decadal planning obsolete with preconceptions.
    6. Jeff Moore: Look at Don Bogard’s twenty most interesting questions we have on Mars. Do they fit in the present road map? Are they being addressed, why and why not?
    7. Discussion: Should we open our issue to the public, post them on web site?
  4. Jeff Moore: SCOUT Program — do we slow down the MEP to keep SCOUT program going? Is SCOUT all but dead? Do we want to resuscitate?
    1. Explanation of what Discovery program was going to handle while SCOUT picked up on other interesting Mars questions
      1. John Wilson: Discovery program biased against Mars program??
      2. Speakers Unknown: Discussion about prejudice of doing Mars work through the Discovery Program (NASA insists there is not a bias)
    2. Jeff Moore: Seriously concerned SCOUT may die / if this is undesirable then MEP may be further slowed to support SCOUT - any alternatives?
      1. Roger Clark: Few things done well rather than many little things done poorly. . .
      2. Discussion Speakers Unknown: Go with the best science whether out of SCOUT or MEP
      3. SCIENCE BASED FLEXIBITLY (agreed upon)
      4. Philosophy: certain SCOUT Missions flown in terms of when? And based on quality of science.
  5. Jeff Moore: Last Issue: Synergy of Mars science looking at other planets.
    1. Separate rationalization of Mars exploration from Life or H2O . . . reasons for studying Mars that go beyond merely "following the water"
    2. If we aren’t seeing aqueous deposition Mars, we need a well thought out series of sequentialized science goals to fall back on
    3. Speaker Unknown: Mars is an analog for the terrestrial planets
  6. Jeff Moore: Fairness issue: How do we strike a balance between exploration on Mars vs. other planets?

// end //

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