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Another lesson to be drawn is that despite its limitations, if judged strictly as a science mission, Clementine attested that significant scientific information can be gathered during a technology-demonstration mission. In the current era of limited funds, when science missions will be infrequent, the opportunity to fly scientific instruments aboard missions whose objectives might be other than science must be seized and, indeed, encouraged. During such opportunities it would be inexcusable to do second-class science. Thus the scientific community must be actively involved in such projects from their initiation.

In terms of budget and schedule, Clementine was undertaken in an even more challenging environment than might be expected for most programs within the Discovery and MidEx designations, according to current guide-lines for these programs. Thus, the substantial accomplishment of Clementine provides a measure of confidence that NASA's Discovery program can be successful provided that the same degrees of team independence and risk acceptance are granted. Clementine's performance allows clear identification of many of the essential ingredients for success in carrying out low-cost, deep-space missions. Therefore, COMPLEX is encouraged to believe that the Discovery program has a significant opportunity to underpin NASA's program of solar system exploration in the years ahead. It is also likely that ''smaller, faster, cheaper" programs—if properly designed and operated—can accomplish much in other areas of space research such as astronomy/astrophysics and space physics.

Many of the apparent innovations of Clementine, compared to practices on recent scientific missions, lay in areas where COMPLEX had some experience but not full expertise. Areas where more appropriately constituted groups may be able to draw additional lessons from the Clementine mission include the following:

  • An accurate comparison of the cost of Clementine compared to that of a typical science mission;
  • The use of new technology on Clementine;
  • The pros and cons of a technological alliance between military and civilian space organizations; and
  • Clementine's software development practices.

In conclusion, perhaps the most basic lesson from the Clementine mission is that the ability to carry out end-to-end planning and implementation of a (U.S.) planetary mission has evolved beyond NASA's domain. Thus an underlying assumption of the Discovery program—that a non-NASA principal investigator can be successful when assuming overall responsibility for a deep-space mission—has, in effect, been validated.


1. Space Studies Board, National Research Council, The Role of Small Missions in Planetary and Lunar Exploration, National Academy Press, Washington, D.C., 1995.

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