[meteorite-list] NASA Announces Robust Multi-Year Mars Program; New Rover to Close Out Decade of New Missions

From: Ron Baalke <baalke_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Tue, 4 Dec 2012 14:09:51 -0800 (PST)
Message-ID: <201212042209.qB4M9pfT025504_at_zagami.jpl.nasa.gov>

Dec. 04, 2012

Dwayne Brown/Sarah DeWitt
Headquarters, Washington
dwayne.c.brown at nasa.gov/ sarah.l.dewitt at nasa.gov

RELEASE: 12-420


WASHINGTON -- Building on the success of Curiosity's Red Planet
landing, NASA has announced plans for a robust multi-year Mars
program, including a new robotic science rover set to launch in 2020.
This announcement affirms the agency's commitment to a bold
exploration program that meets our nation's scientific and human
exploration objectives.

"The Obama administration is committed to a robust Mars exploration
program," NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said. "With this next
mission, we're ensuring America remains the world leader in the
exploration of the Red Planet, while taking another significant step
toward sending humans there in the 2030s."

The planned portfolio includes the Curiosity and Opportunity rovers;
two NASA spacecraft and contributions to one European spacecraft
currently orbiting Mars; the 2013 launch of the Mars Atmosphere and
Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) orbiter to study the Martian upper
atmosphere; the Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations,
Geodesy and Heat Transport (InSight) mission, which will take the
first look into the deep interior of Mars; and participation in ESA's
2016 and 2018 ExoMars missions, including providing "Electra"
telecommunication radios to ESA's 2016 mission and a critical element
of the premier astrobiology instrument on the 2018 ExoMars rover.

The plan to design and build a new Mars robotic science rover with a
launch in 2020 comes only months after the agency announced InSight,
which will launch in 2016, bringing a total of seven NASA missions
operating or being planned to study and explore our Earth-like

The 2020 mission will constitute another step toward being responsive
to high-priority science goals and the president's challenge of
sending humans to Mars orbit in the 2030s.

The future rover development and design will be based on the Mars
Science Laboratory (MSL) architecture that successfully carried the
Curiosity rover to the Martian surface this summer. This will ensure
mission costs and risks are as low as possible, while still
delivering a highly capable rover with a proven landing system. The
mission will constitute a vital component of a broad portfolio of
Mars exploration missions in development for the coming decade.

The mission will advance the science priorities of the National
Research Council's 2011 Planetary Science Decadal Survey and responds
to the findings of the Mars Program Planning Group established
earlier this year to assist NASA in restructuring its Mars
Exploration Program.

"The challenge to restructure the Mars Exploration Program has turned
from the seven minutes of terror for the Curiosity landing to the
start of seven years of innovation," NASA's associate administrator
for science, and astronaut John Grunsfeld said. "This mission concept
fits within the current and projected Mars exploration budget, builds
on the exciting discoveries of Curiosity, and takes advantage of a
favorable launch opportunity."

The specific payload and science instruments for the 2020 mission will
be openly competed, following the Science Mission Directorate's
established processes for instrument selection. This process will
begin with the establishment of a science definition team that will
be tasked to outline the scientific objectives for the mission.

This mission fits within the five-year budget plan in the president's
Fiscal Year 2013 budget request, and is contingent on future

Plans also will include opportunities for infusing new capabilities
developed through investments by NASA's Space Technology Program,
Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, and
contributions from international partners.

For information about NASA Mars activities, visit:


Received on Tue 04 Dec 2012 05:09:51 PM PST

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