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Vision Restoration

Small Planetary Science Missions

22 Jan 2013, 04:48 UTC
Small Planetary Science Missions
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The Vision for Space Exploration included a strong component of HSF robotic precursor missions and robotic science missions to exploration destinations. Robotic precursor missions are a worthy topic, but today I'll discuss the status of robotic Planetary Science missions at NASA. The status of the Mars program has been well-publicized, with NASA's withdrawal from ExoMars participation, near-term cuts to Mars mission funding, and the decision to initiate Mars-2020, a mission like the one that delivered the Mars Surface Laboratory Curiosity rover, but with an instrument suite that is yet to be determined. The status of other NASA Planetary Science missions has not received nearly as much attention. However, with recent and expected budget cuts, there will be no outer planets flagship missions, and the smaller Discovery and New Frontiers mission lines will be slowed. Lunar Quest and Mars Scout small missions are already gone. Future Planetary Exploration gives some insight into the direction Discovery and New Frontiers are heading:I picked up one key point in Monday’s meeting while listening to James Green, the head of NASA’s planetary science program. In reviewing his program’s projected budget, his team believes that it can start two additional New Frontiers missions ($1B each) and ...

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