Press Release

NASA Selects 10 Investigations for 2005 Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter

By SpaceRef Editor
November 9, 2001
Filed under , ,

NASA today announced the selection of 10 scientific
investigations as part of the 2005 Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO)
mission. The 2005 MRO will carry six primary instruments that will
greatly enhance the search for evidence of water, take images of
objects about the size of a beach ball, and search for future
landing sites on the Martian surface. The investigations selected
include two Principal Investigator (PI) Instrument Investigations
and eight Facility Team Leader or Member Investigations.

The two PI Instrument proposals selected by Dr. Edward Weiler,
Associate Administrator for Space Science at NASA Headquarters in
Washington, were judged to have the highest science value among the
26 proposals submitted to NASA in August 2001 in response to the
Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter 2005 Announcement of Opportunity.

“A new generation of reconnaissance instruments on MRO with
unprecedented capabilities will pave the way for identifying the
most compelling sites on Mars for sample return and ultimately for
human exploration,” said Weiler.

The two PI instruments selected are:

– HiRISE, an ultra-high resolution, multi-color, stereo imaging
system. Principal Investigator is Dr. Alfred McEwen of the
University of Arizona, Tucson, in partnership with Ball Aerospace
Corp., Boulder, Colo., at a total developmental cost of $31 million.
The HiRISE instrument will provide color stereo images of the
Martian surface at six times higher resolution than any existing
images, and is expected to improve understanding of surface
processes related to water and to help identify future landing

– CRISM, a hyperspectral imaging spectrometer for mineralogical
mapping. Principal Investigator is Dr. Scott Murchie of the Johns
Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, Md., at a
total cost of $17.6 million. The CRISM instrument will provide
extremely high resolution hyperspectral images of areas on Mars in
wavelengths from 0.4 to 4.0 micrometers (visible to shortwave
infrared) for identifying key mineralogical indicators of water and
hydrothermal systems at spatial scales smaller than a football
field. Such data will be vital for targeting future landed missions.

The other selected investigations, described below, involve the
analysis of data from mission-provided facility instruments and
spacecraft engineering systems.

– Facility Science team scientists affiliated with the Italian Space
Agency facility’s shallow-subsurface sounding radar (SHARAD) are:
Dr. Roger Phillips of Washington University, St. Louis, Mo.; Dr.
Jeffrey Plaut of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory/California
Institute of Technology, Pasadena; and Dr. Bruce Campbell of the
Smithsonian Institution, Washington.

– Facility Science team member scientists associated with gravity
measurements that can be achieved with the MRO spacecraft are: Team
Leader Dr. Maria T. Zuber of the Massachusetts Institute of
Technology, Cambridge, and team members Dr. Frank Lemoine of NASA’s
Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md., and Dr. Alex Konopiliv
of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory/California Institute of

– Facility science team members selected for the accelerometer
science team are: Team Leader Dr. Gerald Keating of The George
Washington University, Washington, and NASA Langley Research Center,
Hampton, Va., and Dr. Stephen Bougher of the University of Michigan,
Ann Arbor.

Other instruments on board MRO, not solicited by this opportunity,
constitute reflights of experiments lost with the failure of the
Mars Climate Orbiter mission.

The specific scientific objectives of the MRO mission include:
researching the processes of present and past climate change on
Mars, searching the surface and shallow-subsurface for sites that
show evidence of water-related activity, investigating the processes
that are responsible for the formation of the ubiquitous layers that
have been observed on Mars, and probing the shallow-subsurface to
identify regions where three-dimensional layering could indicate the
presence of ice or possibly lenses of liquid water.

The 2005 MRO mission represents an integrated scientific-observation
platform that will bring together teams from universities, industry,
NASA centers, and other organizations. The spacecraft will be
developed by Lockheed-Martin Astronautics, Denver, and is scheduled
for launch to Mars in August 2005.

NASA’s Lead Scientist for Mars Exploration, Dr. Jim Garvin, said,
“NASA views the MRO mission as the essential ‘scientific gateway’ to
the future of landed and sample return missions in its core Mars
Exploration Program, as well as an incredible mission of scientific

The MRO mission is managed by the Mars Exploration Program at NASA’s
Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) for NASA’s Office of Space Science.
Mars Program Director is Orlando Figueroa; the Lead Scientist for
Mars Exploration is Dr. Jim Garvin; the MRO Program Executive is Dr.
Ramon Depaula; and the MRO Program Scientist is Dr. Dave Senske. The
Mars Program Manager at JPL is Dr. Firouz Naderi; the Project
Scientist is Dr. Richard Zurek; and the Project Manager is James

SpaceRef staff editor.