[meteorite-list] NASA Seeks Industry Ideas for an Advanced Mars Satellite

From: Ron Baalke <baalke_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Mon, 25 Apr 2016 17:21:23 -0700 (PDT)
Message-ID: <201604260021.u3Q0LNAQ012770_at_zagami.jpl.nasa.gov>

April 21, 2016

RELEASE 16-046

NASA Seeks Industry Ideas for an Advanced Mars Satellite

NASA is soliciting ideas from U.S. industry for designs of a Mars orbiter for
potential launch in the 2020s. The satellite would provide advanced
communications and imaging, as well as robotic science exploration, in
support of NASA's Journey to Mars.

The orbiter would substantially increase bandwidth communications and
maintain high-resolution imaging capability. It also may use experimental
cutting-edge technologies, such as high-power solar electric propulsion or an
optical communications package, which could greatly improve transmission
speed and capacity over radio frequency systems.

Under the direction of NASA's Mars Exploration Program, the agency's Jet
Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, is conducting
pre-formulation planning for this possible orbiter mission. Pre-formulation
plans include the procurement of industry studies for a solar-powered
orbiting spacecraft. This effort seeks to take advantage of industry
capabilities to improve deep space, solar electric propulsion-enabled
orbiters to accommodate scientific instruments, demonstrate capability for
rendezvous and capture, and advance telecommunications capabilities.

"Our success in exploring Mars, to unravel the mysteries of the Red Planet,
depends on having high bandwidth communication with Earth and overhead
imaging," said John Grunsfeld, astronaut and associate administrator of
NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. "Currently, we depend
on our orbiting science missions to perform dual service in making
measurements and acting as communication relays, but we can't depend on
them to last forever. This new orbiter will use cutting-edge technology to
revitalize our ability to continue to explore Mars and support transformative
science, including a potential sample return mission in the future."

JPL plans to award concept study subcontracts of $400,000 per subcontract in
June. The concept studies for the spacecraft will be completed over a
four-month period.

In response to an earlier request from NASA, the Mars Exploration Program
formed an analysis group that proposed, in a 2015 report, possible science
objectives for a Mars orbiter capable of replenishing and advancing the
telecommunications and reconnaissance resources available at Mars.

NASA is studying how to implement this mission concept in concert with its
international partners to the greatest extent possible. Historically, there
have been significant international contributions to NASA Mars missions that
include the Curiosity rover, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft and the
Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution Mission orbiter, both currently
orbiting the Red Planet. The agency will seek such partnerships for this
potential future orbiter mission, as well.

NASA is on an ambitious journey to Mars that includes sending humans to the
Red Planet, and that work remains on track. Robotic spacecraft are
leading the way for the Mars Exploration Program, with current missions, in
addition to the planned launch of the Insight lander in 2018, and the design
and build of the Mars 2020 rover.

To view the Mars orbiter solicitation/Federal Business Opportunities
announcement, visit:


Received on Mon 25 Apr 2016 08:21:23 PM PDT

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