Mars Science Laboratory Instrumentation Announcement from Alan Stern and Jim Green, NASA Headquarters

Status Report From: NASA HQ
Posted: Thursday, November 8, 2007


Dear Colleagues:

We are very happy to announce that MARDI and ChemCam's cost issues have been solved and both instruments are going forward to launch on MSL.

Malin Space Science Systems has agreed that there will be no additional costs to NASA for the completion of the Mars Descent Imager (MARDI). Furthermore, funds returned to the Mars Exploration Program from the unfortunate elimination of MARDI operations on Phoenix will be used to support MARDI integration on MSL.

In the case of ChemCam, LANL, the French Space Agency (CNES), and even other MSL instrument team members have developed a series of descopes and support arrangements to allow instrument completion, reducing the development cost-to-go by a little over 80%--i.e., from $2.5M to about $400K. As a result, ChemCam will be funded another $400K by the Mars Exploration Program, allowing them to complete development.

This outcome is even better than we had imagined possible in September, when MARDI was descoped and ChemCam was cost capped to save money so that MSL itself could complete development without raiding other missions or R&A.

We thank MSSS, LANL, and JPL for their diligence and hard work in finding solutions to these payload issues. We also thank the community for their support of the Mars Exploration Program, the MSL mission, and for the concept of containing costs on one mission so as not to jeopardize others. The support of the NAC in commending our cost control efforts in SMD is also very much appreciated.

MSL's launch is now just 21 months away! Though there remain many challenges ahead, the mission remains as exciting as ever, and we can celebrate that that highly anticipated return will not come at the expense of other SMD projects or R&A grants.


Alan Stern and Jim Green

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