NASA has put all of its Mars sample return (MSR) mission options back on the table and plans to conduct an extensive engineering analysis over the next 1.5 years to select the best combination of new technology and operational techniques. The space agency’s goal is to make those decisions in time for a validation mission during the 2007 launch opportunity. And if all works according to plan, the systems and operations used during the 2007 mission would be mirrored in a sample return mission expectedas early as 2011.
NASA Weighs Mission Options Aviation Week & Space Technology
Mission Surge Goal: Decode Mars’ Mysteries Aviation Week & Space Technology
With all options back on the table, international teams are exploring new technology, advanced radioisotope power sources and Russian participation.
Nozomi On Target for Mars Aviation Week & Space Technology
Japan’s Nozomi spacecraft is on schedule to enter an orbit in Mars’ upper atmosphere in January 2004 after completing the second of three trips it will take around the Sun since its July 1998 launch. The 1,177-lb. spacecraft has been taking measurements of the interplanetary medium as it continues on a four-year trip to Mars. These include counts of dust and energetic particles and readings of low energy plasma, the magnetic field and the densities of hydrogen and helium. Program Manager Koichiro Tsuruda of the Institute of Space and Astronautical Sciences reports the spacecraft and its instruments are healthy.
MGS Pries Secrets Out of Red Planet Aviation Week & Space Technology
Last week’s revelation from Mars Global Surveyor data–that sedimentary rocks suggest past bodies of water on the red planet–is just the latest discovery by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory spacecraft.
Red Team Preps Odyssey to Mars Aviation Week & Space Technology
With a Red Team acting as an over-the-shoulder review panel, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Lockheed Martin Space Systems Co. say they are on target for an Apr. 7 launch of the space agency’s next mission to the red planet. The mission is the 2001 Mars Odyssey, which is to spend two years mapping the planet’s surface and measuring its environment with an eye on understanding the basics of what it will take for man to visit, and perhaps live, on the planet. The 2001 Odyssey will operate from a 400-km.- (250-mi.) high-Sun-synchronous orbit. Launch from Cape Canaveral will be on a Delta II.
Beagle 2: New Benchmark For Mars Science, Engineering Aviation Week & Space Technology
Of all the innovative science and technology engineered into Europe’s Mars Express mission, perhaps none is so bold as the lander. Christened Beagle 2, after Charles Darwin’s legendary vessel, the lander will be pioneering in more ways than one. If successful, it will mark the first time countries other than the U.S. or the Soviet Union have landed a spacecraft on another planet. And assuming NASA’s two Athena probes touch down safely, it will be the first time three landers have reached such a body at the same time.