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Meeting Minutes Mars Community Decadal Panel Telecon 26 Sep 2001

Status Report From: American Astronomical Society
Posted: Wednesday, September 26, 2001

Meeting Minutes

Mars Community Decadal Panel Telecon

Meeting #2, 26 September 2001

1:00 PM — 2:00 PM

ATTENDANTS

Jeffrey Moore, NASA Ames Research Center

Donald Bogard, Johnson Space Center

Charles Shearer, UNM

Steve Clifford, LPI

Laurie Leshin, ASU

Allan Treiman, LPI

Benjamin Weiss, Caltech

John Wilson, Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, Princeton University

 

  1. Introduction by Jeff Moore, review of issues to be addressed
    1. The place of the Scout program.
      1. Do we propose to keep this program going even if it has to be funded with money that otherwise would go to the Mars Exploration Program (MEP)?
      2. Do we alternatively recommend that the distinction between MEP and Scout is artificial and argue for a Mars program that is completely integrated? (I take this idea of integration as at least implicit in his remarks which I have included below).
    2. Has the Winnebago hijacked sample return? If so, or if we think so, what do we recommend?
    3. Where does Mars exploration fit into planetary exploration over the next 15 years?
      1. Is it the 800 pound guerilla? If so, do we defend it as such?
      2. Do we argue for specific, very high priority science/missions, acknowledging that other, non-Mars missions with equally high priority science will get a share of OSS resources.
    4. Steve Clifford on "are we really following the water?"
  2. Jeff Moore: First point raised regarding the Scout program: Do you think the Scout program is threatened? How do you think it should be protected? Where does it fit in the big picture?
    1. Laurie Leshin: Spoke with Joe Perish, NASA HQ, in charge of 07 opportunity
      1. Joe Perish is vocal advocate of Scout and HQ contact for "Winnebago" AKA "big giant lander"
        1. All options still open, Orlando set to make decision on next steps Oct 1
          1. Will the 07 to 09 shift for the "big giant lander" happen? (most likely)
          2. Sample return pushed back to 14
          3. If Smart lander is slipped, Scout’s will likely stay in 07 (full Scout)
        2. A lot of support for Scout at HQ
    2. Laurie Leshin: wrong to think of Scout as separate from the Mars program
      1. Possible piggy back Scout w/ giant lander
      2. April draft AO, for Scout June AO, dates being pushed back
      3. Concept studies moving forward
      4. Community support
    3. Laurie Leshin: Smart Lander SDT(committee: Laurie and Arron Zent members, Ray Arvidson, chair)
      1. Giant lander? Small lander, big rover? Giant lander! & Giant rover!
      2. Pushed back to 09
  3. Jeff Moore: Place for small missions in the whole Mars exploration package
    1. MEP has line item of its own, specific, relatively expensive space craft
    2. Perception of everything else, including Scout competing against Core Program, as opposed to an integrated program
      1. Laurie Leshin: does not personally have that perception, opportunity for input in two ways
        1. Defining payloads
        2. Proposing whole missions through Scout
    3. Laurie Leshin: do we want too much?
    4. Allan Treiman: concentration on the goals
      1. Direction planning is going is focused on engineering
      2. Are we going to build a Scout and what is going to be put on it? Process driven by people designing space craft
    5. Steve Clifford: (agrees w/ Allan) Enormous disconnect between MEPAG and selection of platforms for various opportunities
      1. MEPAG document being used to defend the selection of instrument or platform after the fact
      2. NOT a sequence of missions designed to address the priorities identified by MEPAG
    6. Laurie Leshin: bifurcation in the kinds of approaches
      1. Without consensus, the science community will not be able to drive the program
      2. Engineering issue regarding Giant Lander: after loosing 2 missions, engineering backlash. Must be able to land with retrorockets within a very small landing ellipse.
      3. How to make science input more effective?
    7. Steve Clifford: process started at last MEPAG meeting
      1. Taking top priorities identified from four study areas of focus and doing a cross analysis coming up with an overall ranking of priorities
      2. From overall ranking, take top five priorities and focus an exploration program to address those priorities-would add much more focus than what we currently have
        1. Currently priorities with very low ranking being promoted as high ranking
        2. Example given: sub-meter scale imaging - nothing in MEPAG document giving its need the amount of importance that it occupies in the 05 mission
          1. Gross example of getting carried away with the capabilities of the instrument vs. desired science requirements identified by MEPAG
          2. Questioning enormous fraction of the resources in the 05 mission
          3. Jeff pointed out that sub-meter imaging was an engineering desirement for future lander target evaluation, importance to science was secondary to its inclusion in MRO AO.
    8. Laurie Leshin: MEPAG process is not complete yet; there is not a set of priorities to work from
      1. Key recommendations-process of prioritizing science
      2. Another problem is being forced to live within those priorities, especially in light of realistic funding environment.
    9. Steve Clifford: good idea to have a parallel aspect that is not constrained by a grand plan
      1. Main program thrust with a series of missions that follows thrust
      2. Scout mission should be encouraged and supported, new targets of opportunities
    10. Jeff Moore: encourages Steve to write up his input on Scout Issue
  4. Jeff Moore: is sample return being pushed off by big landers etc?
    1. Spoke with Scott Hubbard-the thought was that essential technology very immature at this point, must be addressed and developed
      1. Committee MPSET, Mars Program Systems Engineering Team (Gentry Lee is chair) is to identify technology development essential for MSR
      2. Jeff suggested that Gentry Lee talk to our panel. Those interested in sample return might get sense of what is going on with his committee and realistic time line and costs addressed
    2. Donald Bogard: two ways to view Scott Hubbard’s comment
      1. Argument that we need all of this capability on the Martian surface, roll, select and test samples before we can return proper sample
        1. Jeff Moore: Scott did not mean it that way, he meant what it took to get a sample up off the surface and back to Earth
        2. Donald Bogard: First argument is not a good rationale
      2. Donald Bogard: Second: many approaches and scenarios and a lot of uncertainty as to what will work-technology issues not well defined
        1. Easy to put off because of level of difficulty
        2. Continue to concentrate on what we are comfortable with
        3. Valid to ask question: How much of this technology development is going to improve the technology for sample return and how much goes beyond to other areas? This is where the real issue lies.
    3. Laurie Leshin: agrees w/ Donal Bogard, in new NASA budget all of the money for the technology development of the later programs has been cut out
      1. Again, reason why sample return has been put off
      2. We have never focused on the technologies needed
      3. Must get across, "big programs require long term vision"
      4. Make investments now
      5. What Gentry is thinking:
        1. Amazing engineer and also conservative
        2. Convinced in order to sell a sample return program, you must send two of everything
    4. Donald Bogard: up until recently, NASA spent very little in the way of resources to develop instruments to be used on landers
      1. Greater roving capability (which Don is not an advocate)
      2. What we do to develop the required capability for surface analysis:
        1. On going arguments of what we can and cannot do
        2. Are we considering if these are the kinds of measurements we really need to do on the planetary surface, we should develop them for future landed missions
        3. Real issue is what is the best way to do analysis
    5. Steve Clifford: agrees there has not been a great deal of thought about the optimum way of doing analysis
  5. Jeff Moore: Where does Mars exploration fit into planetary exploration over the next 15 years?
    1. Donald Bogard: There are three classes of planetary bodies in the solar system: the giant gaseous planets, terrestrial planets and surface satellites, and small volatile rich objects. Mars is primarily a terrestrial planet with interesting volatiles on the surface.
      1. NASA approached studying the solar system object by object
      2. Necessary to understand more deeply the origin and evolution of the various objects
        1. Choose one object appropriate to do this
        2. Mars is representative of the inner part of the solar system
        3. Appropriate to concentrate resources to try to understand in detail a representative planet
      3. Jeff Moore: good defense of the Mars program, asks Don if he could put it in writing
      4. Donald Bogard: It is a defense of the 800 lb guerilla , but he would not want to push it to the extreme that nothing goes on in other areas
    2. Laurie Leshin: in terms of recommendations the committee could have that would have an impact-need to comment on the appropriateness to have a separate Mars program
        1. NASA organizes itself (space exploration programs) in terms of program lines from which projects (missions) follow
        2. Discussion on if there is an official outer planets program
        3. Other terrestrial planets get orphaned
        4. Is it a good idea to keep this Mars line separate? We need to communicate what we agree on
          1. Laurie does think (Mars line separate) good idea
          2. Mars will always be a high focus area, geological and potential biological history
    3. Donald Bogard: remember the historical and programmatic perspective as to why we have a Mars program
      1. Ten years ago each mission had to be defended in front of Congress
      2. Concept was to sell congress on a long term budget
        1. Sell long term, plan long term
        2. More certain to have long term funding
      3. Strong rationale as to why we developed Mars Program, which can be an advantage to the point Laurie made
      4. Laurie Leshin agrees established program line is critical to having any kind of planning exercises and long term stability
    4. Albert Haldermann: should we discuss what the program has done so far?
      1. Jeff Moore: should we evaluate the success of the program?
      2. Donald Bogard: MGS has been scientifically very successful so far, less enamored with pathfinder
        1. Pathfinder sold (in large part) on engineering technology
        2. Jeff Moore: Pathfinder enormous public relations success but did not generate the level of relevant results as for instance MGS
    5. Benjamin Weiss: question- What is the official NASA reason that sample return should be in conjuction with the rovers, and can we assess those reasons? Scientific? Technological?
      1. Donald Bogard: MEPAG has said that all roving capability not a requirement for sample return
      2. Laurie Leshin: long range roving capabilities is not a requirement
        1. Idea of roving capability and sample return marriage, to have credible science goal you cannot just land and have sample rock in front of you
        2. You must find location and then sample a variety of rock
        3. Idea of roving 10-100 kilometers is not necessitated by that goal. MEPAG has rearticulated that goal on the order of a kilometer
      3. Jeff Moore: Scott just rearticulated that same goal
        1. Ideal world sample return/rover
        2. Rove within (a small) landing eclipse
    6. Laurie Leshin: is the grab sample worth it? Does a grab sample address the science priorities?
    7. Jeff Moore: A MSR mission to collect any sample may cost ~$2 billion while one which collects the sample you want (i.e. involves some roving) may cost ~$2.2 billion. It is MSR technology hurdles that are currently the show stopper.
  6. Jeff Moore: Issue Steve Clifford raised about the interest in following the water
    1. Steve Clifford: priorities identified by MEPAG have to be addressed
      1. There remains fundamental things we need to learn about Mars
      2. One mission with surface stations
        1. Until we are capable to sample large number of areas, almost wasted efforts to get a sample
        2. What is the first thing you would want to know before taking sample?
        3. Means by which we could explore many different spots.
    2. Capability to broadly understand Mars
      1. Multi-surface recon missing in current plan
      2. Step away and clearly define top few scientific programs and address them
      3. Not the approach taken in the last 10 years
    3. John Wilson agrees with what was said by Steve Clifford
    4. Laurie Leshin: disconnect between setting science priorities and how we implement them (not moving together in a cohesive way)

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