The Titan Mare Explorer (TiME) probe as envisioned for the Titan Saturn System Mission (TSSM) slated for launch in 2020 and bound for a splash down on Titan around 2030 in Ligeia Mare (the backup target is lake Kraken Mare).
has selected three science investigations from which it will pick one
potential 2016 mission to look at Mars’ interior for the first time;
study an extraterrestrial sea on one of Saturn’s moons; or study in
unprecedented detail the surface of a comet’s nucleus.
investigation team will receive $3 million to conduct its mission’s
concept phase or preliminary design studies and analyses. After another
detailed review in 2012 of the concept studies, NASA will select one to
continue development efforts leading up to launch. The selected mission
will be cost-capped at $425 million, not including launch vehicle
Discovery Program requested proposals for spaceflight investigations in
June 2010. A panel of NASA and other scientists and engineers reviewed
28 submissions. The selected investigations could reveal much about the
formation of our solar system and its dynamic processes. Three
technology developments for possible future planetary missions also were
continues to do extraordinary science that is re-writing textbooks,”
said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. “Missions like these hold great
promise to vastly increase our knowledge, extend our reach into the
solar system and inspire future generations of explorers.”
The planetary missions selected to pursue preliminary design studies are:
Monitoring Station (GEMS) would study the structure and composition of
the interior of Mars and advance understanding of the formation and
evolution of terrestrial planets. Bruce Banerdt of NASA’s Jet Propulsion
Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif., is principal investigator. JPL
would manage the project.
- Titan Mare Explorer (TiME) would
provide the first direct exploration of an ocean environment beyond
Earth by landing in, and floating on, a large methane-ethane sea on
Saturn’s moon Titan. Ellen Stofan of Proxemy Research Inc. in
Gaithersburg, Md., is principal investigator. Johns Hopkins University’s
Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Md., would manage the project.
Hopper would study cometary evolution by landing on a comet multiple
times and observing its changes as it interacts with the sun. Jessica
Sunshine of the University of Maryland in College Park is principal
investigator. NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.,
would manage the project.
is high science return at a price that’s right,” said Jim Green,
director of NASA’s Planetary Science Division in Washington. “The
selected studies clearly demonstrate a new era with missions that all
touch their targets to perform unique and exciting science.”
three selected technology development proposals will expand the ability
to catalog near-Earth objects, or NEOs; enhance the capability to
determine the composition of comet ices; and validate a new method to
reveal the population of objects in the poorly understood, far-distant
part of our solar system. During the next several years, selected teams
will receive funding that is determined through contract negotiations to
bring their respective technologies to a higher level of readiness. To
be considered for flight, teams must demonstrate progress in a future
mission proposal competition.
The proposals selected for technology development are:
Material Explorer (PriME) would develop a mass spectrometer that would
provide highly precise measurements of the chemical composition of a
comet and explore the objects’ role in delivering volatiles to Earth.
Anita Cochran of the University of Texas in Austin is principal
Reaching into the Outer Solar System would develop and validate a
technique called blind occultation that could lead to the discovery of
various celestial objects in the outer solar system and revolutionize
our understanding of the area’s structure. Charles Alcock of the
Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory in Cambridge, Mass., is principal
would develop a telescope to study the origin and evolution of NEOs and
study the present risk of Earth-impact. It would generate a catalog of
objects and accurate infrared measurements to provide a better
understanding of small bodies that cross our planet’s orbit. Amy Mainzer
of JPL is principal investigator.
in 1992, the Discovery Program sponsors frequent, cost-capped solar
system exploration missions with highly focused scientific goals. The
program’s 11 missions include MESSENGER, Dawn, Stardust, Deep Impact and
Genesis. NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala.,
manages the program for the agency’s Science Mission Directorate.