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The Role of Small Missions in Planetary and Lunar Exploration: Chapter 5 The Role of Small Missions in Planetary and Lunar Exploration 5 Recommendations Many diverse objects across the solar system must be studied to achieve the broad goals of planetary and lunar exploration, as outlined in COMPLEX's report, An Integrated Strategy for the Planetary Sciences: 1995-2010.1 An effective program for planetary and lunar exploration also dictates a mix of mission sizes, ranging from missions, such as those in the Discovery program. In a program of small missions, various ones might be designed to enhance or augment comprehensive studies of particularly interesting objects (e.g., Mars and Jupiter), carry exploration further toward answering specific science questions (e.g., Moon, Mercury, or Venus), perform reconnaissance of classes of objects that have received relatively little attention to date (e.g., comets and asteroids), investigate planetary phenomena from Earth orbit, or exploit targets of opportunity. REPORT MENU NOTICE For small missions to fulfill their promise, it is essential that the overall MEMBERSHIP program contain certain elements. In particular, COMPLEX believes that the PREFACE following criteria should be satisfied: EXECUTIVE SUMMARY CHAPTER 1 1. A continuing budget line should be initiated that is dedicated to small CHAPTER 2 planetary missions that focus on specific, well-defined objectives and are capable CHAPTER 3 of yielding significant scientific results. A series of missions is required to address CHAPTER 4 the broad range of top-priority questions in an effective way. Technical, CHAPTER 5 programmatic, infrastructure, and educational interests are best served by a APPENDIX continuing sequence of missions. The choice of missions should be responsive to the scientific rationale and address key questions and objectives outlined in COMPLEX's Integrated Strategy. 2. The Discovery program should be funded at a level that will permit the launch of at least one mission per year, with approximately half of the accepted missions supported at a level close to the currently announced budget cap of $150 million (FY 1992 dollars), not including inflation. This level will allow the Discovery program to fulfill its major role of providing frequent, rapid access to space while carrying out a broad range of high-quality science. file:///C|/SSB_old_web/smlch5.html (1 of 4) [6/18/2004 1:48:50 PM]
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The Role of Small Missions in Planetary and Lunar Exploration: Chapter 5 3. Each mission in the program should be proposed as an integrated package led by a principal investigator (PI), and the missions should always be selected through open competition. The PI should have full authority to decide the appropriate balance among science performance, mission design, and acceptable risk so as to ensure that the investigation achieves the greatest science return while remaining within the originally proposed cost and schedule. 4. NASA should not impose arbitrary constraints (e.g., preselection of launch vehicle, spacecraft bus, payload, data rate, target locale, or management structure) on mission design. Fewer restrictions will permit the most creative and cost-effective solutions for the broadest range of possible mission and target types. 5. The budget, schedule, and risk envelope must be identified in the conceptual and definition phase of mission planning, because success at any price is not acceptable in a cost-constrained mission. Candidate PIs must outline and justify their approach to the assessment and management of risk in the initial proposal, and NASA management must be willing to accept a share of the risk. It is essential for NASA to adhere to the agreed-upon funding profile once the agency has made a commitment for mission development and launch. 6. Past NASA practices must change in order to foster the development of a streamlined approach to management of each complete mission. This approach must minimize the level of NASA oversight by eliminating unnecessary reviews and reducing day-to-day interactions with, and direction to, each team; it must also reduce changes in the external requirements to the maximum extent possible. NASA's procurement process may need to be modified if small PI-led teams are to achieve the rapid development of missions in a cost-constrained environment. Areas that should be investigated include the relaxation of complex auditing and bid evaluation procedures, and the increased use of fixed-price contracts and performance-based fees. 7. As soon as they have been calibrated and validated, data should be archived expeditiously. Data and all subsidiary information (e.g., spacecraft ephemerides) needed for their interpretation should be deposited in NASA's Planetary Data System (PDS) to ensure their prompt availability to the larger community. Some preliminary analysis of these data is the responsibility of the science team. Later analysis of these data, to derive scientific information or knowledge, should be funded separately. 8. NASA's Planetary Instrument Definition and Development Program (PIDDP) should be augmented to infuse new technologies into lightweight science instruments that are likely to be valuable for small missions. Instrument development costs can be substantial and thus would be difficult to carry within individual, cost-constrained missions. A vigorous development program closely tied to specific mission plans is necessary to assure that highly capable instruments will be available to support future missions. file:///C|/SSB_old_web/smlch5.html (2 of 4) [6/18/2004 1:48:50 PM]
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The Role of Small Missions in Planetary and Lunar Exploration: Chapter 5 9. The option of using elements of the small-mission philosophy for Mars Surveyor and future large missions should be studied. REFERENCE 1. Space Studies Board, National Research Council, An Integrated Strategy for the Planetary Sciences: 1995-2010, National Academy of Sciences, Washington, D.C., 1994. Last update 5/26/00 at 10:24 am Site managed by Anne Simmons, Space Studies Board file:///C|/SSB_old_web/smlch5.html (3 of 4) [6/18/2004 1:48:50 PM]