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.
MGS Pries Secrets Out of Red Planet Aviation Week & Space Technology
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.
Europe Targets 2003 Mars Touchdown Aviation Week & Space Technology
A mission underway at the European Space Agency will mark Europe’s entry into the Mars exploration effort while pushing the boundaries of Martian science and technology to new limits. Mars Express is intended to conduct the most thorough search yet for the presence of water or other signs of life on the red planet, despite a budget that would make NASA planners blush. Mars Express will comprise an orbiter costing 150 million euros ($127 million) and a lander, Beagle 2, that will cost barely 50 million euros–by far the cheapest Mars project ever. The probe will be ESA’s first Flexible mission–the agency’s answer to NASA’s “faster, better, cheaper” approach.
2003 Landing System Undergoes Evaluation Aviation Week & Space Technology
Mars Explorer Rover (MER) project officials have determined they may not be able to take the design of the Pathfinder airbag landing system and “build it to spec” for the twin 2003 MER missions as planned. While still early in development, it appears there could be at least minor changes to the landing system’s parachute, solid rocket braking motors or possibly the airbags themselves to accommodate the heavier payload weight, and weight margin, for the 2003 mission. Officials plan to firm up the baseline in January when a project review is scheduled.
NASA Invests Heavily In New Technology Aviation Week & Space Technology
NASA is going back to the drawing board to develop a series of “second-generation” Mars landers and rovers intended to provide safer and more accurate landings and the capability to cover far greater distances over the surface of the planet. The work is aimed at providing future technology options for planners, beginning with a proposed validation mission during the 2007 Mars launch opportunity intended to prove some of the new designs.