To the extent that the specific science objectives of the proposed missions are defined, one of the three crosscutting themes for the exploration of Mars identified in the SSE decadal survey is largely neglected, as are very high priority topics related to understanding near-surface and boundary-layer atmospheric sciences, and so, in this respect, balance is sorely lacking.

To optimize efforts to implement a balanced portfolio of missions, the committee offers the following recommendations to NASA:

  • Recommendation: Include the Mars Long-Lived Lander Network in the mix of options for the 2016 launch opportunity.

  • Recommendation: If the Mars Long-Lived Lander Network cannot be implemented in the period under consideration, provide for an effort to make some of the highest-priority measurements on the landed missions that are included in the proposed Mars architecture.

  • Recommendation: Ensure that the primary role of the Mars Science and Telecommunications Orbiter is to address science questions, and not simply to serve as a telecommunications relay. This distinction is particularly important with respect to the required orbital parameters that are adopted.

NOTES

  

1. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), 2006 Strategic Plan, NP-2006-02-423-HQ, NASA, Washington, D.C., 2004. Available at <www.nasa.gov/pdf/142302main_2006_NASA_Strategic_Plan.pdf>.

  

2. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), The Vision for Space Exploration, NP-2004-01-334-HQ, NASA, Washington, D.C., 2004. Available at <www.nasa.gov/pdf/55583main_vision_space_exploration.pdf>.



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