Press Release

UCLA/TRW/JPL Team Awarded Mars Scout Study Grant

By SpaceRef Editor
June 13, 2001
Filed under , ,

Multi-lander Approach Could Answer Fundamental Questions About Mars Water Cycle, Geologic History

A UCLA-led team
including TRW and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, has
been awarded a six-month, $150,000 study grant by NASA to refine the
concept for a mission to Mars that would deploy a series of small
robotic science probes on the planet’s surface as early as 2008.

Data gathered by the proposed Artemis Multi-Scout Mission could
help scientists answer fundamental questions about the possibility of
life on Mars, the distribution and behavior of water on the red
planet, and the nature of geologic processes that created the layered
deposits in the Mars polar regions.

Artemis is one of several concepts proposed by the science
community for study as precursors to NASA’s Mars Scout missions, a
series of principal-investigator-led, $300 million missions intended
to complement the science goals of NASA’s Mars Exploration Program.
NASA expects to release the Announcement of Opportunity for the first
Mars Scout mission in 2002.

“Artemis offers NASA a powerful, cost-effective way to follow up
on key science discoveries made by the core Mars Exploration missions
and to scout potential landing sites for future Mars missions,” said
UCLA professor David A. Paige, the Artemis principal investigator.
“TRW’s expertise in spacecraft engineering and manufacturing coupled
with JPL’s lander experience will help the Artemis science team refine
the plan for this mission.”

The Artemis concept comprises a “mother ship” launched into orbit
around Mars carrying up to four flying-saucer-like “landers,” each
about 2 feet in diameter. Over the course of several months, the
orbiter would “aim” and release the landers one at a time with high
precision to a variety of Mars latitudes and locations. Each lander
would parachute to the Martian surface, where it would use its payload
of science instruments to collect data about the soils and atmosphere
near the landing sites. The science data would be relayed back to
Earth via the Artemis orbiter or other spacecraft orbiting Mars.

Over the next six months, the UCLA/TRW/JPL team will refine the
Artemis mission concept, focusing in particular on lander deployment
and targeting techniques required for high precision landing, and the
manufacturing technologies required to produce several high
reliability landers in parallel at a reasonable cost.

“During our study, we will be looking at all aspects of the
feasibility of the mission, paying special attention to minimizing
risk,” said Paige. “Having multiple landers will really improve our
flexibility with this mission. We will be able to target more than one
landing site and gain experience with every landing.”

SpaceRef staff editor.