||2001 News Releases
NASA Selects First Mars Scout Concepts for Further Study
June 13, 2001
The 10 most promising mission concepts of the 43
proposed to NASA for possible launch to Mars in 2007 were
selected today to receive funding for six months of continued
Included in the 10 concepts selected for study are
missions to return samples of Martian atmospheric dust and
gas, networks of small landers, orbiting constellations of
small craft and a rover that would attempt to establish
absolute surface ages of rocks and soils.
NASA plans to evaluate the 10 innovative concepts using
rapid six-month studies as a means for jump-starting the
identification of new Mars Scout missions that will compete
for a possible launch in 2007. The proposals were submitted to
NASA's Mars Exploration Program in the Office of Space Science
in Washington, D.C., in response to a call for proposals in
March 2001. Those selected will receive up to $150,000 each
for the study.
"These Scout concepts embody the spirit I first thought
about more than one year ago and will enable us to explore the
diversity of Mars in new ways," said Dr. Ed Weiler, NASA's
associate administrator for space science. Weiler selected the
10 winners on the basis of overall scientific merit and
potential for implementation under a total mission cost cap of
"All of us in the Mars Program are thrilled with the
response by the community with such incredible ideas," said
Dr. Jim Garvin, lead scientist for the Mars Exploration
Program at NASA Headquarters. "These 10 mission concepts
provide revolutionary new vantage points and tools for
exploring the new Mars that has emerged from the observations
of the Mars Global Surveyor."
"The Mars Scouts are a vital element of the restructured
Mars program and are intended to complement the science
objectives of the core missions -- Mars Exploration Rovers,
Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and Mars Sample Return," said Dr.
Firouz Naderi, the Mars program manager at NASA's Jet
Propulsion Laboratory. "Perspective investigators were
encouraged to propose diverse spacecraft platforms for their
science, including orbiters, landers, rovers, airplanes and
Next year, NASA plans to initiate a competition for small
Scout missions to the red planet to broadly involve the
scientific and aerospace communities in the Mars Exploration
Program. "We have used this opportunity to be as inclusive as
possible to engage the broadest possible cross-section of the
community," said Orlando Figueroa, Mars Program director at
NASA Headquarters. The 10 concepts selected today will not be
given any advantage in that competition.
The selected mission concepts, and the principal
- Sample Collection for Investigation of Mars: Dr. Laurie
Leshin, Arizona State University, Tempe. This innovative
mission would sample atmospheric dust and gas using aerogel
and use a "free-return trajectory" to bring the samples back
- KittyHawk: Dr. Wendy Calvin, University of Nevada, Reno.
A mission involving three gliders would explore the
composition and stratigraphy of the walls of Valles Marineris
in ways not possible for orbiters and landers.
- Urey: Dr. Jeff Plescia, U.S. Geological Survey,
Flagstaff, Ariz. A surface rover would allow the absolute ages
of geological materials to be remotely determined for the
first time on any planet.
- Mars Atmospheric Constellation Observatory: Dr. Robert
Kursinski, University of Arizona, Tucson. A network of
microsatellites as a constellation around Mars would
characterize the 3-D structure of the atmosphere, giving a new
look at Martian climatology.
- Artemis: Dr. David Paige, University of California, Los
Angeles. Three small landers and microrovers on the Martian
surface, with two directed to the polar regions, would explore
the surface and shallow subsurface for water, organic
materials and climate.
- Mars Environmental Observer: Dr. Michael Janssen, JPL.
This science orbiter would intensively explore the role of
water, dust, ice and other materials within the Martian
atmosphere to understand parts of the hydrologic cycle.
- Pascal: Dr. Rob Haberle, NASA's Ames Research Center,
Moffett Field, Calif. A network of 24 weather stations on the
Martian surface would provide more than two years of
continuous monitoring of humidity, pressure and temperature
and other measurements.
- Mars Scout Radar: Dr. Bruce Campbell, Smithsonian
Institution's National Air and Space Museum, Washington, D.C.
An orbiter mission would use synthetic aperture radar imaging
to map the surface geomorphology and very shallow subsurface
(three to five meters deep, or about 10 to 16 feet), to detect
buried water channels and other features.
- The Naiades: Dr. Bob Grimm, Blackhawk GeoServices,
Golden, Colo. Four landers would explore for subsurface
liquid water using a novel low-frequency sounding method.
- CryoScout: Dr. Frank Carsey, JPL. This mission, designed
to use heated water jets to descend through martian polar ice
caps, could potentially probe to depths of tens to hundreds of
meters, or yards, while measuring composition and searching
for organic compounds.
For more information about Mars Exploration see
Contacts: Mary Hardin (818) 354-0344
JPL Media Relations Office