NASA selects first Mars scout concepts for further study
NASA NEWS RELEASE
Posted: June 14, 2001
The ten most promising mission concepts of the 43 proposed to NASA for possible launch to Mars in 2007 were selected Wednesday to receive funding for six months of continued studies.
Included in the ten concepts selected for study are missions to return samples of martian atmospheric dust and gas, networks of small landers, orbiting constellations of small craft, and a rover that would attempt to establish absolute surface ages of rocks and soils.
NASA plans to evaluate the ten innovative concepts using rapid
six-month studies as a means for jump-starting the
identification of new Mars Scout missions that will compete
for a possible launch in 2007. The proposals were submitted to
NASA's Mars Exploration Program in the Office of Space Science
in Washington, DC, in response to a call for proposals in
March 2001. Those selected will receive up to $150,000 each
for the study.
Artist's concept of a small Scout-type lander on Martian surface. Photo: NASA/JPL
"These Scout concepts embody the spirit I first thought about
more than one year ago, and will enable us to explore the
diversity of Mars in new ways," said Dr. Ed Weiler, Associate
Administrator for Space Science. Weiler selected the ten
winners on the basis of overall scientific merit and potential
for implementation under a total mission cost cap of $300
"All of us in the Mars Program are thrilled with the response
by the community with such incredible ideas," said Dr. Jim
Garvin, Lead Scientist for the Mars Exploration Program.
"These ten mission concepts provide revolutionary new vantage
points and tools for exploring the new Mars that has emerged
from the observations of the Mars Global Surveyor."
Next year, NASA plans to initiate a competition for small
"Scout" missions to the Red Planet to broadly involve the
scientific and aerospace communities in the Mars Exploration
Program. "We have used this opportunity to be as inclusive as
possible to engage the broadest possible cross-section of the
community," said Orlando Figueroa, Mars Program Director. The
ten concepts selected today will not be given any advantage in
The selected mission concepts, and the Principal
- SCIM (Sample Collection for Investigation of Mars):
Professor Laurie Leshin, Arizona State University, Tempe. This
innovative mission would sample atmospheric dust and gas using
aerogel and use a "free-return trajectory" to bring the
samples back to Earth.
- KittyHawk: Professor Wendy Calvin, University of Nevada-
Reno. A mission involving three gliders would explore the
composition and stratigraphy of the walls of Valles Marineris
in ways not possible for orbiters and landers.
- Urey: Dr. Jeff Plescia, U.S. Geological Survey,
Flagstaff, AZ. A surface rover would allow the absolute ages
of geological materials to be remotely determined for the
first time on any planet.
- MACO (Mars Atmospheric Constellation Observatory):
Professor Robert Kursinski, University of Arizona, Tucson. A
network of micro-satellites as a constellation around Mars
would characterize the 3-D structure of the atmosphere, giving
a new look at martian climatology.
- Artemis: Professor David Paige, University of California,
Los Angeles. Three small landers and micro-rovers on the
martian surface, with two directed to the polar regions, would
explore the surface and shallow subsurface for water, organic
materials and climate.
- MEO (Mars Environmental Observer): Dr. M. Janssen, NASA's
Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Pasadena, CA. This science
orbiter would intensively explore the role of water, dust, ice
and other materials within the martian atmosphere to
understand parts of the hydrologic cycle.
- Pascal: Dr. Rob Haberle, NASA's Ames Research Center,
Moffett Field, CA. A network of 24 weather stations on the
martian surface would provide more than two years of
continuous monitoring of humidity, pressure and temperature
and other measurements.
- Mars Scout Radar: Dr. Bruce Campbell, Smithsonian
Institution's National Air and Space Museum, Washington, DC.
An orbiter mission would use Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR)
imaging to map the surface geomorphology and very shallow
subsurface (three to five meters deep), to detect buried water
channels and other features.
- The Naiades: Dr. Bob Grimm, Blackhawk GeoServices,
Golden, CO. Four landers will explore for subsurface liquid
water using a novel low-frequency sounding method.
- CryoScout: Dr. Frank Carsey, JPL. This mission, designed
to use heated water jets to descend through martian polar ice
caps, could potentially probe to depths of tens to hundreds of
meters while measuring composition and searching for organic
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