NASA Considers Two Concepts
For Mars Mission
by Michael C. Gabriele
05/12/00 07:26:48 PM U.S. EDT
NASA may launch a Mars scientific orbiter or a surface lander/rover in 2003, two mission concepts selected from dozens of options, which have been under study. NASA said it would make a final decision—including whether to proceed to launch—in early July.
Two teams, one centered at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., and the other at Lockheed Martin Astronautics, Denver, will conduct separate, two-month studies to define the concepts, as well as evaluate risk, cost, and readiness for flight. The reports will be submitted for review to Scott Hubbard, Mars program director. Dr. Ed Weiler, NASA associate administrator for space science, will make the final selection.
The Mars Surveyor Orbiter would study the planet’s atmosphere, while the Mars Mobile Lander would provide measurements of surface mineralogy and geochemistry. The lander would reach the Martian surface using an airbag cocoon similar to the successful 1997 Mars Pathfinder mission.