NASA LANGLEY PLANE CHOSEN AS MARS CANDIDATE
NASA selected a Langley Research Center proposal today as one of
four candidates for the 2007 "Scout" mission in the agency's Mars
The Aerial Regional-scale Environmental Survey (ARES) program is
centered on a NASA Langley aircraft that may one day soar over the
red planet returning unique science knowledge about the Mars
atmosphere, surface, interior and early climate.
"From its unique vantage point one mile above the Mars surface,
ARES will return significant and previously unobtainable scientific
measurements," said NASA Langley's Dr. Joel S. Levine, the ARES
principal investigator. "ARES complements and extends the
measurements available from previous Mars missions. The data will
be profound and inspiring."
Following detailed mission-concept studies, due for submission
by July 2003, NASA intends to select one of the mission proposals
by August 2, 2003, for full development as the first Mars Scout
mission. The mission developed for flight will be launched in
"ARES will obtain the first direct measurement of water vapor
and chemically active gas concentrations in the near-surface
atmosphere," added Levine. "These measurements are critically
important for our understanding of past or present life and of the
chemical coupling between the Mars atmosphere and surface."
The selected proposals were judged to have the highest science
value among 25 proposals submitted to NASA in August 2002 in
response to the Mars Scout 2002 Announcement of Opportunity. Each
will receive up to $500,000 to conduct a six-month implementation
feasibility study focused on cost, management and technical plans,
including educational outreach and small business involvement.
Led by NASA Langley, ARES is composed of a team of industry,
academia, and national laboratories that have been working for the
past three years to prepare traditional aircraft technology for
scientific application on Mars.
An ARES one-half scale model recently completed a successful
test flight 100,000 feet above the Oregon coast. Attached to a
high-altitude balloon, the prototype Mars airplane separated from
the balloon, unfolded, and completed a two-hour, pre-programmed
flight path. After being released over the Pacific Ocean and flying
over 50 miles, a pilot remotely guided the 45-pound, 10-foot
wingspan aircraft to a safe landing area during the last five
minutes of flight.
The Mars Scout competition is designed to augment or complement,
but not duplicate, major missions being planned as part of NASA's
Mars Exploration Program or those under development by foreign
space agencies. The selected Scout science mission must be ready
for launch before December 31, 2007, within a total mission cost
cap of $325 million.
The Mars Scout Program is managed by NASA's Jet Propulsion
Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., for the Office of Space Science,
For more information on NASA Langley's ARES program:
ARES Team Members:
An international team of university and NASA scientists
developed the ARES science concept. ARES science team members
- Dr. Joel S. Levine, Principal Investigator (PI), NASA Langley
- Dr. Diana S. Blaney, Co-Investigator (Co-I) and Project
Scientist, Jet Propulsion Laboratory
- Dr. John E.P. Connerney, Co-I, NASA Goddard Space Flight
- Dr. Ronald Greeley, Co-I, Arizona State University
- Dr. James W. Head III, Co-I, Brown University
- Dr. John H. Hoffman, Co-I, University of Texas, Dallas
- Dr. Bruce M. Jakosky, Co-I, University of Colorado
- Dr. Christopher P. McKay, Co-I, NASA Ames Research Center
- Dr. Christophe Sotin, Co-I, Nantes University, France
- Dr. Michael E. Summers, Co-I, George Mason University
ARES mission implementation partners include the Jet Propulsion
Laboratory, Lockheed Martin Astronautics, Aurora Flight Sciences
Corporation, and the Charles Draper Stark Laboratory.