Solar System Exploration Subcommittee (SSES) Meeting Minutes 3-4 Dec 2001

Status Report From: NASA Advisory Council
Posted: Monday, December 3, 2001


Cocoa Beach, Florida
December 3-4, 2001

Letter to Solar System Exploration Director Dr. Colleen Hartman and Dr. Orlando Figueroa Mars Exploration Program Director from Dr. Michael Drake, Chair of SSES

Dear Colleen and Orlando:

The Solar System Exploration Subcommittee (SSES) of the Space Science Advisory Committee (SScAC) met on December 3 and 4 in Cocoa Beach, Florida. The purpose of this letter is to summarize the findings and recommendations of that meeting.

Discussion of important issues at this meeting was constrained by the embargo on the FY 03 budget, which prevented NASA officials from providing information critical to many of the issues before the committee. The embargo therefore precluded useful discussion of many topics. It is recommended that the SSES hold its meetings only at times when the budget for the following fiscal year is not embargoed.

Solar System Exploration Program

Dr. Hartman gave a general briefing on the state of the Solar System Exploration Program. While the state of Solar System Exploration Program appears to be robust, there are severe budgetary and programmatic problems.

Deep Space Systems/Outer Planets:

Congress provided funds for both a Pluto/Kuiper Belt mission and the Europa Orbiter mission, and directed NASA to select the winning team for the Pluto/Kuiper Belt mission. However, inadequate funds were appropriated for both missions and Pluto/Kuiper Belt mission is not budgeted for future years, leading to uncertainty in every budget cycle. Europa Orbiter is capped by Congress at $1B. Four independent estimates of the cost of Europa Orbiter were around $1.2B. Basically, it costs about $1B to get into orbit around Europa regardless of the scienti

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