Assessment of Mars Science and Mission Priorities

Committee on Planetary and Lunar Exploration

Space Studies Board

Division on Engineering and Physical Sciences

NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES

THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS
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Assessment of Mars Science and Mission Priorities Committee on Planetary and Lunar Exploration Space Studies Board Division on Engineering and Physical Sciences NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS Washington, D.C. www.nap.edu

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THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS 500 Fifth Street, N.W. WASHINGTON, DC 20001 NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance. Support for this project was provided by Contracts NASW 96013 and NASW 01001 between the National Academy of Sciences and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the sponsor. Cover: An artist’s impression of one of NASA’s twin Mars Exploration Rovers on the surface of Mars. Courtesy of NASA and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. International Standard Book Number 0-309-08917-4 (Book) International Standard Book Number 0-309-50833-9 (PDF) Copies of this report are available free of charge from: Space Studies Board National Research Council The Keck Center of the National Academies 500 Fifth Street, N.W. Washington, DC 20001 Copyright 2003 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America

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THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES Advisers to the Nation on Science, Engineering, and Medicine The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Bruce M. Alberts is president of the National Academy of Sciences. The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. Wm. A. Wulf is president of the National Academy of Engineering. The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Harvey V. Fineberg is president of the Institute of Medicine. The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy’s purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Bruce M. Alberts and Dr. Wm. A. Wulf are chair and vice chair, respectively, of the National Research Council. www.national-academies.org

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OTHER REPORTS OF THE SPACE STUDIES BOARD Satellite Observations of the Earth’s Environment: Accelerating the Transition of Research to Operations (2003) Assessment of the Usefulness and Availability of NASA’s Earth and Space Mission Data (2002) Factors Affecting the Utilization of the International Space Station for Research in the Biological and Physical Sciences (prepublication) (2002) Life in the Universe: An Assessment of U.S. and International Programs in Astrobiology (2002) New Frontiers in the Solar System: An Integrated Exploration Strategy (prepublication) (2002) Review of NASA’s Earth Science Enterprise Applications Program Plan (2002) “Review of the Redesigned Space Interferometry Mission (SIM)” (2002) Safe on Mars: Precursor Measurements Necessary to Support Human Operations on the Martian Surface (2002) The Sun to the Earth—and Beyond: A Decadal Research Strategy in Solar and Space Physics (2002) Toward New Partnerships in Remote Sensing: Government, the Private Sector, and Earth Science Research (2002) Using Remote Sensing in State and Local Government: Information for Management and Decision Making (2002) The Mission of Microgravity and Physical Sciences Research at NASA (2001) The Quarantine and Certification of Martian Samples (2001) Readiness Issues Related to Research in the Biological and Physical Sciences on the International Space Station (2001) “Scientific Assessment of the Descoped Mission Concept for the Next Generation Space Telescope (NGST)” (2001) Signs of Life: A Report Based on the April 2000 Workshop on Life Detection Techniques (2001) Transforming Remote Sensing Data into Information and Applications (2001) U.S. Astronomy and Astrophysics: Managing an Integrated Program (2001) Assessment of Mission Size Trade-offs for Earth and Space Science Missions (2000) Ensuring the Climate Record from the NPP and NPOESS Meteorological Satellites (2000) Future Biotechnology Research on the International Space Station (2000) Issues in the Integration of Research and Operational Satellite Systems for Climate Research: I. Science and Design (2000) Issues in the Integration of Research and Operational Satellite Systems for Climate Research: II. Implementation (2000) Microgravity Research in Support of Technologies for the Human Exploration and Development of Space and Planetary Bodies (2000) Preventing the Forward Contamination of Europa (2000) “On Continuing Assessment of Technology Development in NASA’s Office of Space Science” (2000) “On Review of Scientific Aspects of the NASA Triana Mission” (2000) “On the Space Science Enterprise Draft Strategic Plan” (2000) Review of NASA’s Biomedical Research Program (2000) Review of NASA’s Earth Science Enterprise Research Strategy for 2000-2010 (2000) The Role of Small Satellites in NASA and NOAA Earth Observation Programs (2000) Copies of these reports are available free of charge from: Space Studies Board The National Academies 500 Fifth Street, NW, Washington, DC 20001 (202) 334-3477 ssb@nas.edu www.nationalacademies.org/ssb/ssb.html NOTE: Listed according to year of approval for release.

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COMMITTEE ON PLANETARY AND LUNAR EXPLORATION JOHN A. WOOD, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Chair WILLIAM V. BOYNTON, University of Arizona W. ROGER BUCK, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory JAMES P. FERRIS,* Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute JOHN M. HAYES,* Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution KAREN J. MEECH, University of Hawaii JOHN F. MUSTARD, Brown University ANDREW F. NAGY, University of Michigan KEITH S. NOLL, Space Telescope Science Institute DAVID A. PAIGE,* University of California, Los Angeles ROBERT T. PAPPALARDO, Brown University ANNA-LOUISE REYSENBACH, Portland State University J. WILLIAM SCHOPF, University of California, Los Angeles ANN L. SPRAGUE, University of Arizona Staff DAVID H. SMITH, Study Director SANDRA J. GRAHAM, Senior Staff Officer KIRSTEN ARMSTRONG, Research Assistant BRIAN DEWHURST, Research Assistant SHARON S. SEAWARD, Senior Program Assistant (through December 2001) RODNEY N. HOWARD, Senior Program Assistant (from January 2002) *   Former member.

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SPACE STUDIES BOARD JOHN H. McELROY, University of Texas at Arlington (retired), Chair ROGER P. ANGEL, JR., University of Arizona JAMES P. BAGIAN, Veterans Health Administration’s National Center for Patient Safety ANA P. BARROS, Harvard University RETA F. BEEBE, New Mexico State University ROGER D. BLANDFORD, California Institute of Technology JAMES L. BURCH, Southwest Research Institute RADFORD BYERLY, JR., University of Colorado HOWARD M. EINSPAHR, Bristol-Myers Squibb Pharmaceutical Research Institute STEVEN H. FLAJSER, Loral Space and Communications Ltd. MICHAEL FREILICH, Oregon State University DON P. GIDDENS, Georgia Institute of Technology RALPH H. JACOBSON, The Charles Stark Draper Laboratory (retired) MARGARET G. KIVELSON, University of California, Los Angeles BRUCE D. MARCUS, TRW (retired) HARRY Y. McSWEEN, JR., University of Tennessee GEORGE A. PAULIKAS, The Aerospace Corporation (retired) ANNA-LOUISE REYSENBACH, Portland State University ROALD S. SAGDEEV, University of Maryland CAROLUS J. SCHRIJVER, Lockheed Martin Solar and Astrophysics Laboratory ROBERT J. SERAFIN, National Center for Atmospheric Research MITCHELL SOGIN, Marine Biological Laboratory C. MEGAN URRY, Yale University PETER W. VOORHEES, Northwestern University J. CRAIG WHEELER, University of Texas JOSEPH K. ALEXANDER, Director

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Preface Mars is arguably the most interesting and important target for study in the solar system, because it is the most nearly similar to Earth of all the planets and one of the most likely repositories for extraterrestrial life among them. Its position in the planetary sequence and its relatively benign climate make it more accessible for study than any other planet. Earlier reports and letter reports by the Space Studies Board’s Committee on Planetary and Lunar Exploration (COMPLEX)—including 1990 Update to Strategy for Exploration of the Inner Planets (1990), An Integrated Strategy for the Planetary Sciences: 1995–2010 (1994), Review of NASA’s Planned Mars Program (1996), “On NASA’s Mars Sample Return Mission Options” (letter report, 1996), and “Assessment of NASA’s Mars Exploration Architecture” (letter report, 1998)—have attached a very high priority to Mars exploration, as have the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s own strategic planning documents. The White House National Science and Technology Council’s statement of national space policy, dated September 19, 1996, lists as one of the nation’s prime space exploration goals “a sustained program to support a robotic presence on the surface of Mars by year 2000 for the purposes of scientific research, exploration and technology development.” The failures in 1999 of two promising Mars missions—Mars Climate Orbiter and Mars Polar Lander—have brought about a critical reexamination and replanning of NASA’s program of Mars exploration. It has been several years since COMPLEX last considered its overall scientific priorities for the exploration of Mars, and in this period two very successful missions—Mars Pathfinder and Mars Global Surveyor—have been executed. The discoveries made by these spacecraft, together with related astronomical, theoretical, and laboratory studies, have provided many new data (e.g., detailed maps of the planet’s magnetic and gravity fields and topography, history of recent water flow, and composition of surface rocks) that should be included in an assessment of research priorities. During the current hiatus in activity resulting from NASA’s program reassessment, it is appropriate to reexamine the scientific priorities for the exploration of Mars, and it is important to then provide an independent scientific assessment of how well NASA’s revised program plans will respond to those scientific priorities. Therefore, in November 2000 the Space Studies Board charged COMPLEX with conducting an assessment of Mars-science and Mars-mission priorities. In particular, the committee was asked to do the following: Review the state of knowledge of the planet Mars, with special emphasis on findings of the most recent Mars missions and related research activities; Review the most important Mars research opportunities in the immediate future;

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Review scientific priorities for the exploration of Mars identified by COMPLEX (and other scientific advisory groups) and their motivation, and consider the degree to which recent discoveries suggest a reordering of priorities; and Assess the congruence between NASA’s evolving Mars Exploration Program plan and these recommended priorities, and suggest any adjustments that might be warranted. Although this project was formally initiated at COMPLEX’s January 29–31, 2001, meeting in Tucson, Arizona, the committee heard an extensive series of presentations describing the scientific and technical aspects of Mars exploration during the framing of the charge for this study at COMPLEX’s October 2–4, 2000, meeting in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. Work on this project continued at the committee’s May 2–4, 2001, meeting in Washington, D.C., and a complete draft of this report was finished in late May 2001. The text was reviewed by the Space Studies Board in June 2001, sent to external reviewers in July 2001, and revised during August and September 2001. Copies of this report were distributed in an unedited, prepublication format in November 2001. This, the final edited text, was prepared in mid-2002 and supersedes all previous versions of this report. The work of COMPLEX was made easier thanks to the contributions made by Mario H. Acuña (NASA, Goddard Space Flight Center), Raymond E. Arvidson (Washington University), Jay T. Bergstralh (NASA Headquarters), Stephen Bougher (University of Arizona), Bruce A. Campbell (Smithsonian Institution), Stephen M. Clifford (Lunar and Planetary Institute), Peter T. Doran (University of Illinois, Chicago), James Garvin (NASA Headquarters), Martha S. Gilmore (Wesleyan University), James W. Head III (Brown University), G. Scott Hubbard (NASA Headquarters), Bradley L. Jolliff (Washington University), Philippe Masson (University of Paris Sud), and Maria T. Zuber (Massachusetts Institute of Technology). COMPLEX also wishes to single out for acknowledgment the particularly important contributions made by Victor Baker (University of Arizona) and Mitchell Sogin (Marine Biological Laboratory). This report has been reviewed by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise, in accordance with procedures approved by the National Research Council’s (NRC’s) Report Review Committee. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the institution in making the published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscripts remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process. COMPLEX thanks the following individuals for their review of this report: James Arnold (University of California, San Diego), Philip R. Christensen (Arizona State University), Alan Delamere (Ball Aerospace), Donald M. Hunten (University of Arizona), Bruce Jakosky (University of Colorado), Norman F. Ness (University of Delaware), and Tobias C. Owen (University of Hawaii). Although the reviewers listed above have provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the conclusions or recommendations, nor did they see the final draft of the report before its release. The review of this report was overseen by Michael Carr (U.S. Geological Survey). Appointed by the National Research Council, he was responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with institutional procedures and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content of this report rests solely with the authoring committee and the institution.

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Contents     EXECUTIVE SUMMARY   1 1   INTRODUCTION   5     References,   8 2   INTERIOR AND CRUSTAL STRUCTURE AND ACTIVITY   9     Present State of Knowledge,   9     Near-Term Opportunities,   13     Recommended Scientific Priorities,   13     Assessment of Priorities in the Mars Exploration Program,   14     References,   15 3   GEOCHEMISTRY AND PETROLOGY   18     Present State of Knowledge,   18     Near-Term Opportunities,   21     Recommended Scientific Priorities,   22     Assessment of Priorities in the Mars Exploration Program,   23     References,   24 4   STRATIGRAPHY AND CHRONOLOGY   26     Present State of Knowledge,   26     Near-Term Opportunities,   29     Recommended Scientific Priorities,   30     Assessment of Priorities in the Mars Exploration Program,   30     References,   31 5   SURFACE PROCESSES AND GEOMORPHOLOGY   34     Present State of Knowledge,   34     Near-Term Opportunities,   43

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    Recommended Scientific Priorities,   44     Assessment of Priorities in the Mars Exploration Program,   44     References,   45 6   GROUND ICE, GROUNDWATER, AND HYDROLOGY   48     Present State of Knowledge,   48     Near-Term Opportunities,   50     Recommended Scientific Priorities,   51     Assessment of Priorities in the Mars Exploration Program,   51     References.   52 7   LIFE, FOSSILS, AND REDUCED CARBON   54     Present State of Knowledge,   54     Near-Term Opportunities,   59     Recommended Scientific Priorities,   60     Assessment of Priorities in the Mars Exploration Program,   60     References,   61 8   LOWER ATMOSPHERE AND METEOROLOGY   64     Present State of Knowledge,   64     Near-Term Opportunities,   66     Recommended Scientific Priorities,   68     Assessment of Priorities in the Mars Exploration Program,   68     References,   69 9   CLIMATE CHANGE   71     Present State of Knowledge,   71     Near-Term Opportunities,   74     Recommended Scientific Priorities,   75     Assessment of Priorities in the Mars Exploration Program,   75     References,   75 10   UPPER ATMOSPHERE, IONOSPHERE, AND SOLAR WIND INTERACTIONS   77     Present State of Knowledge,   77     Near-Term Opportunities,   80     Recommended Scientific Priorities,   81     Assessment of Priorities in the Mars Exploration Program,   81     References,   82 11   RATIONALE FOR SAMPLE RETURN   83     Importance of Sample-Return Missions in the Framework of NASA’s Mars Exploration Program,   83     General Considerations,   87     References,   88 12   ASSESSMENT OF THE MARS EXPLORATION PROGRAM   89     Introduction,   89     Near-Term Missions—Mars Research Opportunities,   90     Status of High-Priority Science Questions,   93     Mars Science Priorities After Mars Global Surveyor,   94

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    Assessment of NASA’s Mars Exploration Program and Its Congruence with Recommended Scientific Priorities,   94     Mars Sample Returns,   99     Other Issues Relating to Mars Exploration,   102     References,   104 13   CONCLUSIONS   105     APPENDIXES         A The NASA Mars Exploration Program   109     B Compilation of Recommendations Concerning Mars Exploration Made by COMPLEX and Other Advisory Groups   118     C Acronyms   131

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