Assessment of Nasa's Mars Achitecture, 2007-2016 by Committee to Review the Next Decade Mars Architecture,

By Committee to Review the Next Decade Mars Architecture, National Research Council

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The current architecture’s diversity of missions gives it some resilience to weather misfortune and, also, to be responsive to new developments. More Than Just Missions A mission architecture is, however, a global strategic approach to address a multifaceted systems problem. As such, it should be viewed as involving not only the set of missions to be flown during the period 2007-2016, but also the analyses of data and supporting infrastructure to make the program successful and effective. 1). At the base of the pyramid is the foundation provided by analyses of existing data, study of martian meteorites, development of technologies required by future missions, and other supporting research.

6 Nevertheless, the Mars Exploration Program’s current budget still amounts to some $600 million per year, and so a mission costing as much as $1 billion could, in principle, be flown at every Mars launch opportunity. On the other hand, the nearto mid-term expectation is for flat budgets, and so inflation will eat away at the program’s buying power over time. Yet, in the near term at least, the resources available for Mars exploration are still remarkably healthy. If the architecture is regarded purely as a sequence of near-term missions, then NASA is to be congratulated for designing missions that will almost certainly provide a science return at least commensurate with what the Mars program has achieved over the last 5 years.

Odyssey, Mars Exploration Rovers, and, now, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter) have focused strongly on the objective of determining the nature and evolution of the geological processes that have created and modified the martian crust and surface. As a result, considerable progress is being made toward investigations related to determining the nature and evolution of geological processes on Mars. , MSL and, possibly, AFL) will undoubtedly further understanding of these areas. Unfortunately, few missions or instruments geared toward gaining a better understanding of the interior of the planet have been flown, despite numerous studies by alternate groups stating the importance of so doing.

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