NASA's eyes - an opportunity for the Martian orbiter in 2020

NASA's eyes - an opportunity for the Martian orbiter in 2020

WASHINGTON - NASA's orbiter flying to Mars, is scheduled to launch in the 2020s to transport the mechanisms needed to collect and store sealed samples of Mars’s surface for a return journey to Earth, the official news agency reported October 5.

The technology is crucial for a long-term, multi-purpose reverse-return pattern, which slowly introduces robot driving through the NASA Mars Exploration program. Nevertheless, there is clearly no wide publicity from the agency about the “Journey to Mars” campaign on public relations and barely pops up in the official budget documents that are prepared every year to justify the construction of new rovers and satellites.

The orbiter will be the next strategic mission of NASA - a mission commissioned by the agency, rather than selected on a competitive basis, which includes proposed missions in other places - on the red planet after Mars 2020, where an all-terrain vehicle will be built, launched to collect samples from the surface and deliver them to the ground for later retrieval.

The orbiter will be designed for a five-year mission and will start no earlier than 2022. This was announced by Jim Vatsin, director of the Mars research program, to members of the subcommittee of the NASA Planetary Science Advisory Board here at a meeting at NASA headquarters. Vatsin first mentioned the orbiter publicly earlier this year, characterizing it primarily as a telecommunications package that will replace the outdated Mars Odyssey, which today transmits data to Earth from surface assets such as “curious” all-terrain vehicle through NASA Deep Space Network.

In consecutive open meetings this year, Watzin described more and more potential opportunities for spacecraft, including optical communications equipment and a solar electric propulsion system, which dramatically increases the orbital maneuvering capabilities of the spacecraft. The orbiter will also have at least one sensitive remote provisioning tool, so that everything it does can be added to Mars Science.

Vatzin told NASA that he is currently considering the addition of a “gripping pattern” and the possibility of a return, which allows us to take a sample from orbit and prepare it for the house to go back.

The idea that at the present time Vatsin calls a “multifunctional orbiter”, which explores Mars in 2020 instead of the future Martian lifting mechanism and delivers samples of Mars orbit, remains implicit. From there, the orbiter will return samples to Earth.

This lifting mechanism, like the orbital one, is so far only a proposal at this stage, without approved funding, and can be part of the rover, which will follow Mars 2020 and collect samples. Regardless of whether the orbiter will be used or just show the captured sample and return to Earth, its capabilities and capabilities are still being discussed, Vatsin said. If he leaves the Martian orbit, he will leave the same hole in the NASA telecommunications infrastructure that the more sophisticated spacecraft should have filled, he noted.

Vatsin initially tied the launch of the orbiter by 2022, but he charged more useful loads to the scientists from the next orbital scientific analytical group. The +2024 date may become more realistic, according to a report that a group chosen by NASA will present at the meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco from December 14-18.

In any case, it is unclear whether the White House will approve the mission in the first place. “We do not yet have a budget for all of this,” Vatsin admitted. NASA will not make a budget request for funding the mission in 2016, because the White House decides in Congress in February.

While the White House refused to take over the Mars back campaign because of the long-term bills associated with them, the Obama administration showed some willingness to allow NASA to begin preparations for the campaign on the spot.

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