[meteorite-list] NASA Considers Discovery Mission Proposals

From: Ron Baalke <baalke_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Thu Apr 22 09:41:53 2004
Message-ID: <200101042128.NAA23165_at_zagami.jpl.nasa.gov>

Don Savage
Headquarters, Washington, DC January 4, 2001
(Phone: 202/358-1727)

RELEASE: 01-01


     It's a difficult decision: With about $300 million to spend,
should NASA buy a spacecraft that could find Earth-sized planets
around nearby stars? What about a mission that could peer deep
inside Jupiter's gaseous atmosphere? Or should the agency go with
a mission to orbit the two largest asteroids in the solar system?

The answer to that question will have to wait about a year. In the
first step of a two-step process, NASA's Office of Space Science
selected three proposals for detailed study as candidates for the
next mission in the agency's Discovery Program of lower cost,
highly focused, rapid-development scientific spacecraft.

"The diversity of science represented in these three mission
proposals is outstanding. NASA will have its hands full picking
only one for flight," said Dr. Jay Bergstralh, acting Director of
Solar System Exploration at NASA Headquarters, Washington, DC.

The selected proposals were judged to have the best science value
among 26 proposals submitted to NASA last August. Each selected
team will receive $450,000 to conduct a four-month implementation-
feasibility study focused on cost, management and technical plans,
including educational outreach and small business involvement.

Following detailed mission concept studies, NASA intends to select
one of the three proposals late in 2001 for full development. The
mission should be launched around 2005 or 2006.

NASA has also decided to fund American participation in a mission
to Mars being flown by another nation. In this "Mission of
Opportunity" NASA will contribute to seismology, meteorology and
geodesy (to measure the size and shape of the planet) experiments
on the French-led NetLander Mission, scheduled for launch in 2007.
The Mission of Opportunity team will receive $250,000 to conduct
its feasibility study.

The selected Discovery and Mission of Opportunity proposals are:

* The Kepler mission is a space telescope specifically designed
to detect Earth-sized planets around stars in the Sun's
neighborhood of the galaxy. By monitoring 100,000 stars over a
four-year mission, Kepler could detect up to 500 Earth-sized
planets and up to 1000 Jupiter-sized planets. Dr. William Borucki
of NASA's Ames Research Center at Moffet Field, CA, would lead
Kepler at a total cost to NASA of $286 million.

* The Interior Structure and Internal Dynamical Evolution of
Jupiter (INSIDE Jupiter) mission is a Jupiter orbiter designed to
observe and measure processes occurring within the Jovian
magnetosphere and atmosphere. INSIDE Jupiter would determine the
internal structure of the planet by obtaining high resolution maps
of the magnetic and gravity fields. Dr. Edward J. Smith of the Jet
Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA, would lead INSIDE Jupiter
at a total cost to NASA of $296 million.

* The Dawn mission intends to orbit Vesta and Ceres, two of the
largest asteroids in the solar system. According to current
theories, the very different properties of Vesta and Ceres are the
result of the asteroids being formed and evolving in different
parts of the solar system. By observing both asteroids with the
same set of instruments, Dawn would probe the early solar system
as well as determine in detail the properties of each asteroid.
Dr. Christopher T. Russell of the University of California at Los
Angeles would lead Dawn at a total cost to NASA of $271 million.

* A U.S. contribution to the French-led NetLander mission will
add unique capabilities to each of the four landers and the
orbiter which comprise the mission. In 2007, NetLander will create
the first science network on Mars to study the planet's internal
structure. The American contribution includes short period
seismometers and wind sensors on the landers, and a high-
resolution geodesy instrument on the orbiter. Dr. W. Bruce Banerdt
of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory will lead the U.S. contribution
to NetLander at a total cost to NASA of $35 million.

The Discovery Program is designed to provide frequent, low-cost
access to space for planetary missions and missions to search for
planets around other stars. The selected science missions must be
ready for launch before September 30, 2006, within the Discovery
Program's cap on each mission's cost to NASA of $299 million.

The Discovery Program is managed at NASA's Jet Propulsion
Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology,
Pasadena, for the Office of Space Science, Washington, DC. More
information on the Discovery Program is available at:


                             - end -
Received on Thu 04 Jan 2001 04:28:00 PM PST

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