NASA's Next Mars Mission are Coming Together
NASA Press Release - April 26, 2006
Mars Lander, the next mission to the surface of Mars, is beginning
a new phase in preparation for a launch in August 2007.
As part of this
"assembly, test and launch operations" phase, Phoenix
team members are beginning to add complex subsystems such as the
flight computer, power systems and science instruments to the main
structure of the spacecraft. The work combines efforts of Lockheed
Martin Space Systems, Denver; the University of Arizona, Tucson;
and NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
subsystems and instruments from a wide range of suppliers are tested
separately, but now we are beginning the vital stage of assembling
them together and testing how they will function with each other,"
said JPL's Barry Goldstein, project manager for Phoenix.
land near the red planet's north polar ice cap to analyze scooped-up
samples of icy soil.
there is plenty of water frozen into the surface layer of Mars at
high latitudes. We've designed Phoenix to tell us more about this
region as a possible habitat for life," said the University
of Arizona's Peter Smith, principal investigator for the mission.
Phoenix is the
first mission of NASA's Mars Scout Program of competitively proposed,
relatively low-cost missions to Mars. The program is currently soliciting
proposals for a 2011 Scout mission.
proposal, selected in 2003, saves expense by using a lander structure,
subsystem components and protective aeroshell originally built for
a 2001 lander mission that was canceled while in development. The
budget for the Phoenix mission, including launch, is $386 million.
will land using descent thrusters just prior to touchdown, rather
than airbags like those used by the current Mars Exploration Rovers.
As Phoenix parachutes through Mars' lower atmosphere in May 2008,
a descent camera will take images for providing geological context
about the landing site.
arm being built for Phoenix will be about 2 meters (7 feet) long,
jointed at the elbow and wrist, and equipped with a camera and scoop.
It will dig as deep as about 50 centimeters (20 inches) and deliver
samples to instruments on the spacecraft deck that will analyze
physical and chemical properties of the ices and other materials.
A stereo color camera will examine the landing site's terrain and
provide positioning information for the arm. The Canadian Space
Agency is providing a suite of weather instruments for Phoenix.
system and the wiring harness have been added to the vehicle,"
said Ed Sedivy, Phoenix program manager for Lockheed Martin. "We
will be loading flight software onto the flight computer in the
next few days. The flight software is much more mature than typical
for a planetary program at this stage. As soon as the flight computer
is mated up, we can apply external power to the vehicle."
such as star trackers, and communication subsystems will become
part of the spacecraft in coming weeks, followed by science instruments
in the summer.
be shipped to NASA's Kennedy Space Center, Florida, in May 2007,
for final preparations leading up to launch. Before that, testing
in Colorado will subject the spacecraft to expected operational
environments. This includes thermal and vacuum tests simulating
the 10-month trip to Mars and conditions on Mars' surface. Meanwhile,
the mission is preparing a test facility in Tucson for practicing
and testing procedures for operating the spacecraft on Mars.
2007 Mars Scout Lander Graphics
* Raymond Arvidson,
* Diana Blaney, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
* William Boynton, University of Arizona
* Allan Carswell, Optech Inc., Canada
* David Catling, University of Washington
* Benton Clark, Lockheed Martin Astronautics
* Eric de Jong, Jet Propulsion Laboratory
* Michael Hecht, Jet Propulsion Laboratory
* John Hoffman, University of Texas at Dallas
* Horst Keller, Max-Planck-Institut for solar System Research
* Samuel Kounaves, Tufts University
* Mark Lemmon, Texas A & M University
* Michael Malin, Malin Space Science Systems
* Wojciech Markiewicz, Max-Planck-Institut for solar System Research
* John Marshall, SETI Institute
* Christopher McKay, NASA Ames Research Center
* Michael Mellon, University of Chicago
* Douglas Ming, NASA Johnson Space Center
* Richard Morris, Johnson Space Center
* Nilton Renno, University of Michigan
* Peter Smith, University of Arizona (PI)
Staufer, University of Neuchatel, Switzerland
* Carol Stoker, Ames Research Center
* Leslie Temppari, Jet Propulsion Laboratory
* Aaron Zent, Ames Research Center