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Compelling Planetary Science Missions: Mars Background, Part 3 (Mars Polar Climate Mission)

22 Dec 2010, 01:10 UTC
Compelling Planetary Science Missions: Mars Background, Part 3 (Mars Polar Climate Mission)
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This continues a series of posts inspired by a similar set of posts at Future Planetary Exploration blog selecting the 5 most compelling missions from the Planetary Science Decadal Survey list. This is the 3rd of 3 reviews of potential Mars missions, building up to a selection from that list (and I've already revealed that Mars will not be skipped in my overall selection of 5 compelling missions).The Mars Polar Climate Mission Concepts report doesn't focus on a single mission, but instead gives a broad overview of the types of missions that could study the Martian polar deposits to reveal information about the planet's climate. Six potential missions, covering Discovery and New Frontiers classes, are investigated: 3 orbiters roughly similar to Mars Odyssey or Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, 2 landers roughly similar to Mars Phoenix, and 1 MER-class rover.Clearly the MAX-C rover is a more well-developed plan than these conceptual missions, but that may be balanced somewhat by the argument that these missions are simpler and use a great deal of heritage hardware.These missions would all study the Martian climate through its polar layers, but they would do that in quite different ways. Science questions include the age, energy budget, and ...

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