SpaceRef

SpaceRef


FY 2002 Space Science Enterprise White Paper

Press Release From: NASA HQ
Posted: Monday, April 9, 2001

OFFICE OF SPACE SCIENCE (Code S)
Associate Administrator: Dr. Edward Weiler

Public Affairs Contacts:
Donald Savage 202/358-1727
Dolores Beasley 202/358-1753

The total Fiscal Year 2002 Appropriations budget request for the Office of Space Science is $2,786.4 million; this is comprised of $2,453.0 million of formerly Science, Aeronautics, and Technology Appropriation funding and $333.4 million of formerly Mission Support Appropriation funding.

SPACE SCIENCE OVERVIEW

NASA's Space Science Enterprise is looking for answers to the following questions:

  • How did the Universe, galaxies, stars and planets form and evolve?
  • How can exploration of the Universe and our solar system revolutionize our understanding of physics, chemistry and biology?
  • Are there Earth-like planets beyond our solar system?
  • Does life in any form, however simple or complex, carbon-based or other, exist elsewhere than on planet Earth?

A summary of Space Science highlights and discoveries during calendar year 2000 is available on the Web at: http://spacescience.nasa.gov/announce/topten2000.htm

New Programs and Other Major Features in the 2002 Budget

The newly restructured Mars Exploration Program (MEP) will deliver a continuously refined understanding of Mars with the excitement of discovery at every step. The MEP strategy includes a natural responsiveness to scientific discoveries that will emerge as new observations are made. The strategy is linked to NASA's experience exploring Earth, and uses Mars as a natural laboratory for understanding life and climate on Earth-like planets. The 2001 Mars Odyssey orbiter was launched April 7, 2001, and twin Mars Exploration Rovers are being prepared for launch in 2003. Meanwhile, also in progress are: planning for a Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter mission in 2005; construction of a new Deep Space Network (DSN) 34-meter antenna to support communications with the growing number of Mars and other Deep Space missions; and preliminary planning for a scientifically competed series of "Mars Scout" missions. In addition, science definition and technology development for a next-generation, mobile surface laboratory in 2007 is underway. Basic technology investments leading to launch of a Mars sample return mission as early as 2011 are also included in the FY 2002 budget request.

As a result of projected cost growth for missions to Pluto and Europa , NASA recently announced the indefinite deferral of the Pluto mission. Prior to this deferral, the Agency had released an Announcement of Opportunity (AO) soliciting science community proposals for alternative Pluto missions. Although no funding for a Pluto mission is included in the President's FY 2002 budget request, evaluation of proposals received in response to the AO will be completed. The decision to solicit proposals came three months after unacceptably large cost increases on the Pluto/Kuiper Express (PKE) mission led NASA on Sept. 12 to issue a stop-order on the project to NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, CA.

The proposals received in response to the AO will provide a baseline from which NASA can measure progress in efforts to design an affordable Pluto mission. The Agency continues to seek cost-effective alternatives for a mission to reach the outermost planet prior to 2020, when it is believed that the planet's atmosphere will have collapsed. The President's request includes funding to support technology development for advanced in-space propulsion systems. If such a system were developed, it could enable a mission to travel to Pluto much more quickly than current technology allows, enabling a launch later in this decade, or perhaps early in the next decade, while still getting to Pluto before 2020. The shorter trip time would also reduce life-cycle costs, due to the reduced number of years the mission would operate. Meanwhile, NASA is pursuing the technologies and doing the planning necessary to enable a mission to Europa later this decade.

The Living with a Star (LWS) initiative will address aspects of the Sun-Earth system that affect life and society. Its program elements include a space-weather research network; a theory, modeling and data analysis program; and space environment test-beds. Solar variability can affect space systems, human space flight, electric power grids, high-frequency radio communications, long-range radar, microelectronics and humans in high-altitude spacecraft, and terrestrial climate. Prudence demands that NASA fully understand the space environment affecting these systems. The Solar Probe mission, slated to be NASA's first voyage to a star, was not determined to be a near-term budget priority for NASA, and is not funded in the FY 2002 budget. In the event that the Solar Probe is assigned a high priority by the solar and space physics science community, the mission could be funded out of the resources planned for other solar and space physics programs.

Ongoing Programs

There are currently 29 operating Space Science spacecraft, including many involving various degrees of international cooperation. Between now and the end of FY 2002, several missions are scheduled for launch, including:

  • 2001 Mars Odyssey , launched on April 7, carries a suite of scientific instruments designed to tell what the Martian surface is made of, and provide vital information about potential radiation hazards for future human explorers.
  • HESSI, the High Energy Solar Spectroscopic Imager , will study the dynamics of solar flares, the tremendous explosions in the atmosphere of the Sun. When it is launched (currently scheduled for June 2001) HESSI will be able to produce high-resolution spectrographic movies of solar flares, allowing scientists to really see what goes on in a flare -- from its birth to death.
  • The Microwave Anisotropy Probe (MAP) mission, set for launch in June 2001, will observe tiny temperature variations in the cosmic microwave background in space, thought to be radiant heat left over from the Big Bang. This scientific study is expected to lend great insight into the origin, evolution and content of the universe.
  • Genesis , scheduled for launch in late July 2001, will bring back to Earth samples of solar wind particles, which will provide a more detailed examination of the solar wind than ever before. As a result of this mission, knowledge about the beginnings of the solar system will increase dramatically.
  • Like Living with a Star, the Solar Terrestrial Probe (STP) program will also study the Sun-Earth system, but seeks to understand solar variability on time scales from a fraction of a second to many centuries. The STP program will begin with the launch of the Thermosphere-Ionosphere- Mesophere Energetics and Dynamics (TIMED) mission, scheduled for launch in August 2001. TIMED will provide a first global characterization of the region where the atmosphere tails off into space.
  • In November 2001, NASA will launch the second part of the Third Servicing Mission (SM3B) to the Hubble Space Telescope. During this mission, astronauts are to install a new science instrument -- the Advanced Camera for Surveys -- new solar arrays and an instrument to provide cooling for the infrared camera, and to perform several other upgrade and maintenance tasks.
  • The Galaxy Evolution Explorer (GALEX), scheduled for launch in January 2002, is a Small Explorer mission that will map the global history and probe the causes of star formation over most of the life of the Universe. GALEX will investigate the period over which galaxies have evolved dramatically, and the time that most stars, elements and galaxy disks had their origins.
  • The Comet Nucleus Tour (Contour), scheduled for launch in July 2002, will fly past two comets and take images of the comets' nuclei, as well as collect and analyze comet dust.
  • The Space InfraRed Telescope Facility (SIRTF) is scheduled for launch July 2002. SIRTF is a space-borne, infrared observatory capable of studying objects ranging from our Solar System to the distant reaches of the Universe. SIRTF is the final element in NASA's Great Observatories Program, and an important scientific and technical cornerstone of the new Astronomical Search for Origins Program.
  • The Space Science Research Program funds a variety of scientific projects ranging from ground-based observations and experiments to basic research and analysis and evaluation of data from laboratories, airborne observatories, balloons, sounding rockets and spacecraft data archives.

Programs Under Development or Study

The Office of Space Science has a number of other programs under development, or under study for possible future development. More information on Space Science programs under development or study can be found on the Web at:

http://spacescience.nasa.gov/

// end //

More news releases and status reports or top stories.

Please follow SpaceRef on Twitter and Like us on Facebook.

NanoRacks