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  #1  
Old 06-23-2023, 01:50 PM
Bob Austin Bob Austin is offline
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Default NASA’s Mars Sample Return has a new price tag—and it’s colossal

From over at Ars Technica
...the Program Manager for the mission at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Richard Cook, and the director of the mission at NASA Headquarters, Jeff Gramling, briefed agency leaders last week on costs. They had some sobering news: the price had doubled. The development cost for the mission was no longer $4.4 billion. Rather, the new estimate put it at $8 to $9 billion.

Moreover, this only represents the cost to build and test the different components of the mission. It does not include launch costs, operating costs over a five-year period, nor construction of a new sample-receiving facility to handle the rocks and soil from Mars. All told, the total cost of the Mars Sample Return mission is now about $10 billion...

There is already a background buzz in the science community about cost overruns for this mission...

Zurbuchen said there were "horrendous" technical mistakes made during the early planning phase at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The original concept involved sending everything on a single lander, including a small rover to "fetch" the samples from Perseverance. However the depth of this analysis was insufficient and included large errors about the mass of the landing legs and other factors. For a time, the plan had to evolve to add a second lander, which increased the cost by more than $1 billion....

For NASA, now is the time to make significant changes to the mission, before the agency completes a preliminary design review or goes through the Key Decision Point-C process later this year, after which NASA is more or less committed to the program....

To be clear, the Mars Sample Return mission is a high priority for the planetary science community. In the influential "decadal" survey published last year, which set exploration priorities for the 2023 to 2032 period, scientists confirmed this. However, they added a caveat on costs...

The report stated that if the cost of the sample-return mission increased substantially (defined as 20 percent or more) or exceed 35 percent of NASA's planetary science budget in any given year, then NASA should not take that money from other planetary programs. Instead, the agency should ask Congress for a "budget augmentation."

Zurbuchen said that if the price really is escalating toward $10 billion at this early stage in the mission, NASA should think long and hard about whether this is really worth the cost.

"If the answer is this is not the decade to do it, my heart breaks because I put so much effort into it," he said. "But it is better to not do it than to torch the whole science community. We have to have the courage to say no. That’s the only way we earn the right to say yes."

Complete article at https://arstechnica.com/space/2023/...-sticker-shock/
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  #2  
Old 06-26-2023, 09:44 AM
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Winston2021 Winston2021 is offline
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But not NEARLY as colossal as sending humans there to CONTAMINATE Mars, forever preventing absolute certainty about life evolving there independently.

The recent Titan submersible accident is also an example of the human cost of sending humans instead of "robots" as well as the need provide large Earthlike volumes for humans not required for "robots."

My alternative to the huge complexity of sample returns using the same philosophy as the Vikings, but vastly improved:

Put miniature electron microscope (example in use on the ISS), miniature mass spectrometer (in development), miniature chem lab, etc., in immobile "lab landers" landed in multiple various promising places.

Land small rovers in their area designed to just collect samples.

Fly samples from each rover to the fixed lab via helicopter(s) landed with each rover.

Same system could be used to collect and analyze samples already collected by Perseverance.
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  #3  
Old 06-26-2023, 12:46 PM
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And, BTW, the instruments for the lab I listed above were just a best case WAG.

Another, far less elaborate and expensive route for multiple site analysis:

Biological Oxidant and Life Detection

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biolo..._Life_Detection

The Biological Oxidant and Life Detection (BOLD) is a concept mission to Mars focused on searching for evidence or biosignatures of microscopic life on Mars. The BOLD mission objective would be to quantify the amount of hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) existing in the Martian soil and to test for processes typically associated with life. Six landing packages are projected to impact 'softly' on Mars that include a limited power supply, a set of oxidant and life detection experiments, and a transmitter, which is able to transmit information via an existing Mars orbiter back to Earth. The mission was first proposed in 2012.

The scientific objectives of the BOLD mission are: to identify the unknown oxidant in the Martian soil, which was postulated after the Viking program, and to probe whether there is extant life near the Martian surface. In contrast to the Viking mission, which was geared toward finding abundant heterotrophic life on Mars with a global distribution, the BOLD mission is aimed at a more comprehensive search including lithoautrophic and photosynthetic microbes, and a variety of biosignatures.

If selected and funded, the carrier vehicle with the landing probes would be propelled into a circular orbit around Mars. The orbiter would be equipped with a small solid rocket to provide the deceleration required to insert the spacecraft in an entry trajectory that can safely release the probes on the Martian surface. A terrain navigation system, coupled with robust propulsion, potentially permits targeting with precision on the order of meters if required to meet the science objectives. Each probe would have a mass of 59 kilograms (130 pounds) with a science payload of less than 10 kilograms (22 lb). Each of the probes' lander system uses a parachute and a crushable shell behind the heat shield for a 'soft impact' landing. Upon landing, the science instruments at their tips would penetrate up to 30 centimeters (one foot) into Martian regolith, a depth sufficient to conduct accurate scientific measurements. The landing probes will be powered by batteries. The mission duration for each landing probe is anticipated to be 10 sols (10 Martian days).

The envisioned instrument suite on each probe includes:

The Multispectral Microscopic Imager experiment
The Fluorescent Stain experiment
The Nanopore-ARROW experiment
The Chirality experiment
The Hydrogen Peroxide experiment

---------

A White Paper for the 2020 Planetary Sciences Decadal Survey of the National Academies
MASEX - A Dedicated Life Detection Mission on Mars

https://mepag.jpl.nasa.gov/reports/...032/LinYing.pdf

---------

Sensor Being Developed to Check for Life on Mars
03.02.07

https://www.nasa.gov/centers/ames/r...ars_sensor.html

---------

And those are just some of the returns from a search on:

mars lander life detection instruments

https://duckduckgo.com/?q=mars+land...b=v314-1&ia=web
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The other day I sat next to a woman who has a profound fear of flying. I wanted to comfort her, so I said, "Don't worry, we're not gonna' crash. Statistically, we got a better chance of being bitten by a shark." Then I showed her the scar on my elbow from a shark attack. I said, "I got this when my plane went down off of Florida." - Dennis Regan
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Old 06-26-2023, 04:24 PM
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ghrocketman ghrocketman is offline
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Contaminate ??
WTH ?
Not buying that guff/bunk/hawgwarsh/crapola/baloney/nonsense.
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Old 06-26-2023, 06:02 PM
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There is no way that we have been able to keep bacteria completely off the 10 or so successful landings on Mars. Mars is already contaminated.
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Old 06-26-2023, 11:28 PM
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Soft landing something large enough to fly back to orbit is a hugely challenging task - far more than landing on the moon was.
The problem with Mars is that is has an atmosphere - which is dense enough that friction heating during entry is a massive problem, but not dense enough to make winged flight practical. So you need to protect from atmospheric heating, then provide sufficient thrust to slow to a soft landing. Plus you need a lot more thrust on Mars to get back to orbit than they did on the moon, so the lander needs to be larger, which makes the first two problems just that much more challenging.
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Old 06-27-2023, 07:36 AM
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Winston2021 Winston2021 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ghrocketman
Contaminate ??
WTH ?
Not buying that guff/bunk/hawgwarsh/crapola/baloney/nonsense.
Colonizing Mars means contaminating Mars – and never knowing for sure if it had its own native life - November 6, 2018

https://theconversation.com/coloniz...ive-life-103053

Excerpt:

Given that the exploration of Mars has so far been limited to unmanned vehicles, the planet likely remains free from terrestrial contamination.

But when Earth sends astronauts to Mars, they’ll travel with life support and energy supply systems, habitats, 3D printers, food and tools. None of these materials can be sterilized in the same ways systems associated with robotic spacecraft can. Human colonists will produce waste, try to grow food and use machines to extract water from the ground and atmosphere. Simply by living on Mars, human colonists will contaminate Mars.

Going to Mars Could Mess Up the Hunt for Alien Life
Elon Musk wants to send humans to the red planet. But even our robotic presence there risks contaminating Mars with invasive microbes.
SEPTEMBER 25, 2016


https://www.nationalgeographic.com/...s-planets-space

Astrobiology Vol. 17, No. 10
Searching for Life on Mars Before It Is Too Late
1 Oct 2017


https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/10.1089/ast.2017.1703

Abstract excerpt:

Planetary Protection policies as we conceive them today will no longer be valid as human arrival will inevitably increase the introduction of terrestrial and organic contaminants and that could jeopardize the identification of indigenous Martian life.
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The other day I sat next to a woman who has a profound fear of flying. I wanted to comfort her, so I said, "Don't worry, we're not gonna' crash. Statistically, we got a better chance of being bitten by a shark." Then I showed her the scar on my elbow from a shark attack. I said, "I got this when my plane went down off of Florida." - Dennis Regan

Last edited by Winston2021 : 06-27-2023 at 08:01 AM.
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  #8  
Old 06-27-2023, 07:43 AM
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Winston2021 Winston2021 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tdracer
Soft landing something large enough to fly back to orbit is a hugely challenging task - far more than landing on the moon was.
The problem with Mars is that is has an atmosphere - which is dense enough that friction heating during entry is a massive problem, but not dense enough to make winged flight practical. So you need to protect from atmospheric heating, then provide sufficient thrust to slow to a soft landing. Plus you need a lot more thrust on Mars to get back to orbit than they did on the moon, so the lander needs to be larger, which makes the first two problems just that much more challenging.
I like the other techniques which involve detection ON Mars. Cheaper, easier, and able to test more locations. Then, when something is detected and ONLY then, do a sample/return IF that is necessary.

If NASA wasn't blowing the majority of its budget on SPAM in a Can missions, we could afford all of this. Humans in space are high-mass, O2, H2O, food consuming units, none of that being available in space, and are also highly vulnerable to radiation. None of those are a factor for robotics and robotic and AI technologies are also highly useful on Earth, unlike $23 million zero-G toilets. Humans in space are dunsel and most of them are taking a risk for the same reason as the former Titan submersible occupants - a joy ride. Book - The End of Astronauts: Why Robots Are the Future of Exploration (2022)

List of Solar System unmanned probes and accomplishments. List is 31 pages long:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_...r_System_probes
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The other day I sat next to a woman who has a profound fear of flying. I wanted to comfort her, so I said, "Don't worry, we're not gonna' crash. Statistically, we got a better chance of being bitten by a shark." Then I showed her the scar on my elbow from a shark attack. I said, "I got this when my plane went down off of Florida." - Dennis Regan
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  #9  
Old 06-27-2023, 08:08 AM
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Winston2021 Winston2021 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tbzep
There is no way that we have been able to keep bacteria completely off the 10 or so successful landings on Mars. Mars is already contaminated.
I'll place a drinking glass out in the open in a Mars lander clean room for a year after being decontaminated in the same way as the lander. I'll dip another in treated sewage. Which would you drink from? That's the comparison you're making.

Basically, one case is doing everything possible to limit contamination. The other is flooding Mars with massive contamination which then dries up and blows everywhere on Mars.
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The other day I sat next to a woman who has a profound fear of flying. I wanted to comfort her, so I said, "Don't worry, we're not gonna' crash. Statistically, we got a better chance of being bitten by a shark." Then I showed her the scar on my elbow from a shark attack. I said, "I got this when my plane went down off of Florida." - Dennis Regan

Last edited by Winston2021 : 06-27-2023 at 09:25 AM.
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Old 06-27-2023, 09:43 AM
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Winston2021 Winston2021 is offline
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Timely video, but I don't care about contaminating the dead, boring moon, good maybe for robotic surface mining of Helium-3.

We Left What On The Moon?
Jun 26, 2023


In addition to all the equipment, spacecraft, rovers, personal mementos left on the moon, astronauts left poop, urine, vomit, and garbage.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gdimsxIKzdE
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