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Solar System Exploration @ 50 Symposium Selected Abstracts
Beichman, Chas
Searching for Habitable Planets and Life: The Next 50 Years
The ancients knew of 7 "planets", wanderers in the night sky: Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn, to which they added the Sun and the Moon. By the mid-20th Century we had added Uranus, Neptune, Pluto and re-assigned the Earth, the Sun and the Moon to yield the nine planets we all learned about in school. No other planets were known and only one other planet, Mars, even offered the possibility of being habitable, although late in the 20th century and early in this century we came to realize that Jupiter’s moon Europa and Saturn’s moon Enceladus could potentially harbor primitive life. Over the last two decades, astronomers have explosively expanded the census of planets outside our solar system, and, our very conception of what planetary systems are like. Since 1995 over 700 planets have been discovered orbiting nearly 600 nearby stars using ground-based and space-based telescopes. Another 2,300 candidates detected by the Kepler satellite await confirmation. In addition to basic orbital parameters, for many of these planets we have determined physical properties such as mass, radius, density, composition, and even atmospheric structure.

Some of the exoplanets are Earth-sized and occupy that niche we call the Goldilocks zone. These planets are not too big and not too small, not too hot and not too cold. Fewer than a dozen potentially habitable worlds are now known. But the hunt is on to find many more and to learn about their atmospheres. Could one or more of these planets support life? Could one or more even be inhabited? As our understanding of the habitability of planets and even some of the moons within our own solar system grows in the coming decades, we will apply that knowledge to help us understand the rapidly expanding number of planets in other solar systems. The next 50 years of exoplanet research may answer definitively one of humanity's oldest question about our place in the cosmos: "Are We Alone?"

Billings, Linda
Survivor(?): The Story of S. mitis on the Moon
The story of how bacteria from Earth survived for more than two years on the surface of the Moon is well known in the annals of the U.S. space program. In places ranging from peer-reviewed journals to government fact sheets, Wikipedia, and Web sites ranging from reputable to questionable, the account of how NASA technicians found viable Streptococcus mitis (S. mitis) bacteria inside equipment retrieved from the Moon and returned to Earth by astronauts has been replicated widely and reported as fact for decades.

The story of S. mitis on the Moon involves a set of claims that were disputed when they were first made public and are still in dispute today. Nonetheless, many people who are familiar with the story of the terrestrial bacteria that allegedly survived more than two years on the Moon assume that it is true. More than 30 years later, it may not be possible to prove definitively that this claim is true or false. However, I aim to show how and why this story is folklore rather than fact.

I will trace the construction of the “fact” that Earth bacteria traveled to the Moon, survived more than two years of exposure there to harsh conditions, only to revive once brought back into familiar terrestrial environs. The construction of this scientific “truth” involved a conference paper, a citation to the unpublished paper in an annual review, and a long string of subsequent papers citing the original claims as reported in the review. This analysis will address how scientific conjecture in this case became scientific fact. This study is based on a review of primary and secondary literature, Science Citation Index records, and interviews with current and former NASA planetary protection officers and other principals.

Bugos, Glenn E.
Precursor Missions: The Science of What Comes Next
In one four year period (1964 to 1968) humans learned far more about the Moon than had been learned before or since. This enormous increase in knowledge was driven by three series of small robotic spacecraft: Ranger, Surveyor and Lunar Orbiter. Some of these spacecraft had started their programmatic lives as remote laboratories, designed to do what lunar science was possible. All of them were soon repurposed as precursors to the Apollo missions. As precursors they were focused on gathering data to validate the engineering decisions needed for a successful lunar landing. Four decades later, the data archives are still mined with equal intent for scientific and engineering data.

As part of the aborted Vision for Space Exploration in the 2000s, NASA embarked on a new series of robotic lunar precursors, which lived on, centered on the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and on a NASA Lunar Science Institute. Key questions, pursued by not only by the United States, included the confirmation of water ice at the lunar south poles and more precise mapping of minerals and gravitation. On Earth experiments began on in situ resource utilization to support some sort of moon colony. Science and reconnaissance again fed each other.

This paper views solar system exploration as if it may have been driven by the urge to settle space. While the emphasis is on the two eras of lunar science cum precursors, I will also touch upon the other missions that found utility amidst scientific wonder. This is includes satellites stationed at Lagrangian points, the many studies of solar radiation and micrometeoroids, the search for an Earth analog in other solar systems, the mapping of the moons of other planets, and the quest for water on Mars.

This paper will not dwell on visions or architectures of solar system settlement, but rather on what data has returned from missions that was seen as having engineering utility. The very notion of "precursor" has historically been rendered historically, based on the then current expectations of what has, or will, come next in humankind ventures into space.

Burke, J.D.
Foundations of Solar System Exploration at JPL: How the First Mariners and Rangers Built Them
This abstract introduces the first of two papers intended to show the origins and evolution of JPL's planetary mission practices. In 1958 and 1959, JPL people first advocated a Mars launch in October 1960, but soon abandoned that as impractical and focused on the 1961 Venus window. Lunar missions were initially of lower priority, but gradually the plan evolved into one beginning with just two high-apogee test flights in 1961, then three lunar rough landers and two Venus attempts in 1962. Realizing that the whole scheme was very risky, team members insisted on one spacecraft bus design to gain experience with high-gain communications, solar power and three-axis attitude control. This common bus could then carry different mission payloads. A comparable approach governed tracking, mission operations and launch vehicles. The central concept was to gain reliability through repetitive actions. The launch services effort was fraught with management confusion and the early vehicles all failed, but one Atlas Agena B did (despite a near-disaster during ascent) send Mariner 2 on its way to history's first planet encounter, 14 December 1962. The Soviets did try two launches for Mars in 1960 and two for Venus in 1961, with Venera 1 sent out to fail en route. Three Ranger failures in 1962 exacerbated disputes over science and other priorities. Following reviews the project was reorganized and after one more failure in 1964, finally attained success. Also in 1964, Mariner 4 was launched, to encounter Mars in 1965. Later Mariners 5,6 and 7 demonstrated successful performance of all project elements. Design and management concepts evolved during the early years proved robust, providing a solid base for the grand achievements of later JPL deep-space missions. This paper describes the start of this evolution and points to its implications for the broader future of planetary and exoplanetary exploration.

Callahan, Jason W.
Funding Planetary Science: History and Political Economy
The availability of financial resources continues to be one of the greatest limiting factors to NASA’s planetary science agenda. Historians and members of the space science community have offered many explanations for the scientific, political, and economic actions that combine to form NASA’s planetary science efforts, and this essay will use statistical and historical analysis to determine which of these factors have greater influences on NASA’s budget. This approach will offer new insights into how the shifting fortunes of the nation’s economy or the political affiliation of the nation’s leadership have affected government investment in science broadly, and space science specifically.

This essay expands on earlier work examining the financial impact of NASA’s astrobiology program, which required the construction of a historical NASA budget using layered fiscal information, adjusted to constant dollars. The budget data set contained information collected from documents located in NASA’s archives, the Library of Congress, and at the Office of Management and Budget at the White House. Using a more robust version of that budget, this essay will include several regression analyses performed using dependent variables such as; the national gross domestic product, Federal debt levels, the budgets of other Federal agencies engaged in science and engineering research, and party affiliation of leadership in Congress and the White House.

The essay will include a historical analysis, incorporating interviews with members of the planetary science community. These interviews will portray the factors that the participants view as important in the funding of space science, and compare them with the results of the statistical analyses.

By examining the history of NASA’s planetary science efforts through the lens of the budget, this essay will provide a clearer view of how effectively the planetary science community has been able to align its goals with national science priorities.

Chaikin, Andrew
Exploring the Solar System: Stories From the Trenches
Half a century of planetary exploration has transformed points of light into worlds, rewritten scientists understanding of the solar system again and again, and amazed the public with ever more detailed views of alien landscapes. None of this would have happened without the truly amazing efforts of engineers who designed, built, and operated our robotic emissaries. In unknown, hostile environments from the frigid, windswept deserts of Mars, to Jupiter’s fierce radiation belts, to the dim realms at Uranus and Neptune, planetary spacecraft have tested their creators’ ingenuity and persistence.
While the development of planetary spacecraft has often been exceedingly difficult—for example, the landing system of the Mars Exploration Rovers, and the radiation-hardening of outer-planet missions like Voyager and Galileo—some of the most daunting problems have taken place in flight, such as the problem with the star tracker data of the Deep Impact cometary probe that would have caused it to miss its target if not for heroic work by mission controllers while the craft was en route. Sometimes, missions were accomplished only through remarkable foresight long before launch: The historic flybys of Uranus and Neptune by Voyager 2 were not yet approved when engineers decided to upgrade the spacecraft’s sun sensors and other components to handle the increased distance of those outer planets. And sometimes, it has all come down to luck. An under-performing launch vehicle gave Voyager 1 barely enough energy to reach Jupiter and Saturn, but if that had happened to Voyager 2—which required still more energy to achieve its planned trajectory—the Uranus and Neptune flybys would never have taken place.

For much of my career I have been interviewing engineers and managers who worked on planetary missions throughout NASA’s history. It is these stories from the “trenches” that convey the enormous difficulty of planetary exploration, and which will be the centerpiece of my paper.

Cheong, Giny
Voyager: Exploring Through the Public Eye
The Voyager mission produced thousands of images exploring Jupiter and Saturn, then Uranus and Neptune. These images brought wonder and excitement about planetary science to the public eye for a decade from 1979-1989. Galileo returned to Jupiter, successfully carrying out its prime and extended missions from 1995-2003. In 2004, Cassini arrived at Saturn and remains in operation today for its second extended mission.

This project will examine public engagement with these missions, analyzing how the mass media framed these stories to create interest and also comparing coverage on the older versus more recent missions. How did the mass media portray the images as wonders and convey a sense of wonder for each discovery?1 How might the evolving communications media (print publications, television/movies, websites) affect public interest? While Gallup polling generally showed positive opinions about space exploration, how has popular culture and science communication (Neil deGrasse Tyson, PBS) flavored the public view on space science?

The mass media and popular culture facilitates a relationship between the public and the discoveries made by the scientific community, which may be significant towards encouraging future exploration or setting other priorities for government spending. Voyager’s incredible successes in the scientific community and showing new discoveries to the public contributed to funding further missions to the outer planets. How has the buzz surrounding the more recent missions changed or remained static for inspiring further exploration?

Conway, Erik M.
Dreaming of Mars Sample Return, From Viking to the Mars Science Laboratory
Planetary scientists have long wanted to bring samples of the other planets back to Earth for analysis. They routinely argue that better instrumentation exists on Earth than can be delivered to a planetary surface; that samples brought back to Earth can foster a broader range of experiments than can be sent into space; that returned samples can be re-examined as scientific instrumentation improves. The lunar samples returned by the Apollo missions to the Moon are the totemic examples, subject to research for decades since their return.

To date, though, only pieces of Earth’s Moon, samples of solar wind, and cometary dust have been returned. All current “samples” of Mars that exist on Earth are meteorites blasted off Mars by asteroid impacts. Despite this unhappy fact, the desire for sample return has driven technology development since (at least) the 1976 Viking landings on Mars. Drawing on my recently completed history of Mars exploration, this paper will illuminate the way dreams of returning bits of Mars to Earth have played out at JPL in design studies, technology programs, and in flight projects since the end of the Viking missions.

It will parallel this narrative with discussion of the dynamic relationship between cost and risk within NASA over these decades, which has led to profound changes in the costs and architectures of proposed sample return efforts. The result has been increasing technological capacity to carry out sample return, while cost has continued to drive the achievement of sample return into the far future.

Day, Dwayne
The National Research Council’s Role in the American Planetary Exploration Program
The Space Studies Board (SSB) of the National Research Council was created several months before NASA at the impetus of Congress, which wanted to make sure that scientific guidance was provided to the nation’s civilian space program. The early years of interaction between the SSB and NASA were often contentious, particularly in the area of strategic advice to NASA’s planetary exploration efforts. Most notably, it was because of SSB pressure that NASA included scientist astronauts in the Apollo program. However, over time, the SSB and NASA evolved to a point where today the SSB is intricately involved in providing strategic advice on NASA’s overall planetary exploration program. Several space missions currently underway, such as the Juno mission to Jupiter, stem directly from SSB studies and recommendations. The SSB has also been in charge of the planetary science decadal surveys, the second one delivered to NASA in March 2011 provides guidance for the period 2013 to 2022. This long relationship has ensured that the American planetary exploration program has a high scientific content and it has been a key element in NASA's ability to substantially explore the solar system.

Delgado López, Laura
Killer Asteroids: popular depictions and public policy influence
There is no other planetary science subject that receives as much pop culture attention as asteroid impacts. Weekend television is filled with movies about asteroid collisions with names such as Meteor Storm, Meteor Apocalypse, and Post-Impact, not to mention the big budget movies Armageddon and Deep Impact. On the science channels you can find numerous documentaries, inevitably featuring computer-generated imagery of massive destruction and occasionally relying upon actor dramatizations of the apocalypse. The fictional films can be traced back to the 1950s, and have their antecedents in popular stories about the danger posed by Halley¹s Comet. The overall genre may be linked to apocalyptic narratives following World War II, with space serving as both the cause and the solution to various threats. Many films and television shows can be linked to real events, such as the comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 impact with Jupiter, or reports of close flybys of near-Earth objects. What does this obsession with heavenly destruction symbolize, and does it create false impressions in the public¹s mind- -such as an imminent threat--sometimes with real-world policy influences? Or is this all merely harmless entertainment?

Green, James L.
NASA’s Solar System Exploration Paradigm: The First Fifty Years and a Look at the Next Fifty
In exploring any particular solar system object over the past fifty years, NASA has followed a general paradigm of “flyby, orbit, land, rove, and return.” A complete campaign may not be performed for each object in the solar system, since not all our scientific questions can be studied at all objects, and there are high technological and financial hurdles to overcome for some missions and certain destinations. Moreover, a healthy program of solar system exploration requires a balance between detailed investigations of a particular target and broader reconnaissance of a variety of similar targets.

But, following this paradigm, a descriptive review of the past exploration of solar system bodies will be discussed, the significant progress on a number of solar system bodies currently underway, and the recipe for exploration as applied to the recent Planetary Science Decadal Survey. Finally, a thoughtful reflection of NASA’s creation of the science discipline, its evolution to planetary science, and predictions for the future, especially as thousands of “exoplanets” are being discovered with new technologies.

Specific discussion beginning with the successful Mariner 2 mission to our current flyby, orbiting, landing, roving, and sample return missions including: New Horizons, a mission to Pluto (encounter July 2015), Dawn, a mission to Vesta (encounter July 2011), Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter around the Moon (orbiting), MESSENGER orbiting Mercury (orbiting), and Juno launched in August 2011. The Cassini/Huygens flagship mission has been orbiting Saturn since the summer of 2004. Missions at Mars that include: Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, Mars Odyssey, and the two mid-sized rovers Spirit and Opportunity. In November of last year, the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) rover Curiosity launched and will land on Mars in August 2012.

The Planetary Decadal Survey for years 2013 to 2022 (released March 2011) shows the wide diversity in potential targets for which the next scientific leap in understanding requires landers, rovers, atmospheric probes, or sample return missions. How does the Decadal measure up to the paradigm? The presentation will overlay and discuss.

Grinspoon, David
Evolving Concepts of Planetary Habitability In the Age of Planetary Exploration
At the dawn of the space age both Venus and Mars were regarded by many scientists as likely habitats for life. Early results of the first interplanetary probes were disappointing in this regard. Both of our neighboring planets turned out to be less Earth-like, in terms of surface environments than had been imagined by those planetary astronomers who inferred oceans beneath the clouds of Venus and seasonal plant life causing albedo changes on Mars. Later mission results suggested the likelihood of possible habitable oases beneath the surface on Mars and in the cloud deck of Venus. Detailed reconnaissance of the outer solar system, beginning with the Voyager mission, revealed the moons of Jovian planets to much more active than had been assumed, largely owing to tidal heating, and suggested the possibility of hitherto unforeseen habitats for life among these gravitational habitable zones independent of heliocentric distance. During these same decades our knowledge of the evolution and diversity of terrestrial life was also rapidly changing due to developments such as the formulation and debate of the Gaia Hypothesis (which arose partly as a response to the search for extraterrestrial life) and the discovery of numerous extremophile metabolisms and habitats which greatly expanded the range of physical conditions within which life was known to survive. More recently the discovery of a complex methane “hydrosphere” on Titan and a likely subsurface aquifer on Enceladus, along with a rapidly expanding catalog of exoplanets, has stimulated new ideas on the range and detectability of planetary habitability.

Handberg, Roger
The Politics of Pure Space Science, the Essential Tension, Human Spaceflight’s Impact on Scientific Exploration
From the inception of the space age, human spaceflight has been deeply intertwined with the development of the space science programs pursued by NASA beginning in 1958. Space science (writ large) existed prior to NASA but the agency’s creation with access to Earth orbit helped focus public and congressional attention more intently on what was an exotic field known to most only through Chesley Bonestell and others’ artistic presentations of planets and the vehicles that humans would use to fly and live in space. His worlds depicted a human adventure reaching out to the planets and beyond that grabbed the attention of early generations of space enthusiasts. His glamorous and imaginative scenarios were rarely accurate except to show the loneliness and beauty of the worlds and grab attention. Bonestell did not lay out any agenda for space that was done by collaborator Wernher von Braun with his vision of humans pushing out into outer space. The two types, artist and dreamer, made space a real destination possibility for humans, not just a figment of science fiction. So, from the beginnings of the U.S. space exploration program, human spaceflight and space science have existed as uneasy partners and collaborators.

The title for this proposal is drawn from an earlier volume entitled The Politics of Pure Science by Daniel Greenberg (1969) which laid out the disconnect between the high minded goals of science and how the decisions about how to conduct and fund that science were made. The purpose here is not expose but rather how to judge the impact of two complementary but often competing perspectives on future directions for the U.S. space program. The essential tension lies between the space science community and the demands of the human spaceflight community over how funds are allocated and more importantly which specific strands within space science should be a priority. Much of space science has been in support of the human exploration while other major areas are distant although politically all must justify their existence and budgets on some value to the larger polity within which they exist.

What occurs is a multi-track process in which the various communities within space science (broadly defined) work out the framework within which funding priorities should be made going forward while the human spaceflight community works on keeping a viable flight program alive. All of this occurs against a background of the primacy of human exploration within NASA space agenda. So, conflicts occur at several levels: within the sub-disciplines of space science, among the major themes within space science: planetary science, earth science, heliophysics, and astrophysics with certain programs such as the James Webb Telescope (JWT) as one of a kind; and between the scientific community and the human space exploration community. Scientific priorities arise within the scientific community through their decadal survey recommendations, a politicized process within the National Research Council. The politics here are driven by community interests and science entrepreneurs who lobby for specific programs. Within NASA itself, those priorities are worked out in the context of specific missions (supposedly chosen based on their excellence and scientific value) to be funded at what rate. The spaceflight community separately works to insure that funding and commitments occur in Congress and the executive branch to continue their specific flight vehicles such as the shuttle and the attempts at its successor. Given that budgets are finite, sharp controversies occur over the rate and size of spaceflight funding since in times of need the space science community is taxed to support the more important endeavor (according to agency leadership). This latter can draw in Congress as members act to protect their constituencies’ interest in protecting jobs and companies. Presidential engagement has been sought by NASA leadership in order to initiate and fund human spaceflight but that has proven a weak reed to rely on given other presidential priorities.

One can get down in the weeds dealing with the vast array of past, present and future missions so analysis here will focus on interactions at the directorate level with forays into specific missions to examine what occurred with what impact. All of this is placed in a broader political and budgetary context especially at times of stress as budgets contract or shift in emphasis. Despite these uncertainties, space science has been able to engage in missions that have stretched our knowledge of other worlds and outer space itself in ways totally unexpected. Within the solar system, the focus is scientific but often driven by the prospect that humans will venture out to those locations eventually in pursuit of signs of life. The Kepler program currently is stretching our view of what is out there which may provide an impetus for interstellar missions and beyond. Research wise, the NASA History office has generated a large collection of relevant materials that can be used to analyze the question of what the linkage has been and what factors should be considered in assessing change over time. In addition, there are broader analyses of NASA space science efforts which contain materials relevant to the broader inquiry such as discussions of the Apollo program and its lack of scientific intent until the end when outside choices prematurely terminated the program. One need not return to the conflicts that occur over whether the best American space program would emphasize robotic missions over more expensive human exploration efforts.

Hubbard, G. Scott
Exploring Mars: Following the Water
The Red Planet has been a subject of fascination to humanity for thousands of years, becoming part of our folklore and popular culture. Today, the discoveries of the Mars orbiters and the ongoing travels of the Opportunity Rover continue to capture headlines. Millions will undoubtedly watch the landing of the Mars Science Lab on August 6 of this year.

Mars is the most Earth-like of the planets in our solar system. It may have harbored some form of life in the past, and might still possess an ecosystem today in some underground refuge. As a consequence, Mars Exploration is of great importance to NASA and its science goals for the 21st century. In the wake of the very public failures of Mars Polar Lander and Mars Climate Orbiter in 1999, NASA embarked on a complete reassessment of the Mars Program, technical, management and budget. I was asked to lead this restructuring in March 2000 and became the first ever “Mars Czar”. The result of my efforts and the team I led has been a highly successful decade long program of missions, each building on the accomplishments of the other - using the science principle of “Follow the Water”. My work created the Mars Odyssey mission; the twin rovers, Spirit and Opportunity; our “spy satellite around Mars” the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter; a competitive opportunity which yielded the Phoenix project, and finally the Mars Science Laboratory.

The story of how I fashioned this new program, the technical and political forces, national and international personalities has been captured in my just published book: Exploring Mars: Chronicles from a Decade of Discovery (February 1, 2012, University of Arizona Press.) For the “Solar System Exploration at 50”, I will give a lecture that summarizes the high points and accomplishments recounted in my book.

Huntress, Jr., Wesley T. (With Marov, Mikhail)
First On The Moon, Venus and Mars: The Soviet Planetary Exploration Enterprise
The Soviet robotic solar system exploration program began in a spirit of bold adventure and technical genius. It ended after the fall of the Soviet Union and the failure of its last mission to Mars in 1996. This talk will chronicle the accomplishments of the Soviet’s planetary exploration enterprise from infancy to demise, placing each mission campaign in the context of Soviet program goals and competition with the United States. The Soviet program was bold and innovative, achieving many ‘firsts’ in space exploration, but also riddled with flaws that resulted in many failures. The individual lunar, Venus and Mars mission campaigns from the first launch attempts in 1958 through Mars 96 will be described briefly, including their science objectives, engineering highlights and results. The talk will concentrate on the early years of the program.

Johnson, Torrence V.
Outer Solar System Exploration: An Archetype of the Scientific Method
Since the launch of the first successful interplanetary mission fifty years ago this year (Mariner 2 to Venus), the exploration of the solar system by robotic spacecraft has produced discovery after discovery, revolutionizing our view of our home system and our place in it. The process of solar system exploration is a carefully formulated enterprise involving evaluation of existing knowledge and theoretical understanding, planning reconnaissance strategies, and developing follow-on missions to capitalize on discoveries and test new hypotheses. No place has this been more evident than in the exploration of the outer solar system, played out over many decades on the vast canvas of our planetary system beyond the orbit of Mars. The Voyager mission, launched in 1977, provides many examples of the process of discovery and response. At Jupiter, Voyager discovered that Io was volcanically active, confirming theories of tidal heating, and Europa’s nearly crater-free icy surface suggested recent resurfacing and the possibility of liquid water. At Saturn, Voyager found Titan’s atmosphere to be thick and rich in hydrocarbons, and tiny Enceladus to have a surprisingly geologically young surface. In the next twenty-five years, the Galileo and Cassini/Huygens orbital missions have responded to these, and many other, discoveries, with Galileo providing strong evidence for a liquid water ocean beneath Europa’s crust, and Cassini/Huygens revealing a Titan ‘hydrocarbon – cycle’ involving seasonal lakes of liquid hydrocarbons and discovering geyser-like plumes of water vapor and ice particles shooting out of rift near Enceladus’ south pole, now hypothesized to originate in salty liquid water reservoirs. Mission concepts to further explore these systems are a major part of current solar system exploration planning.

Kaminski, Amy Paige
Faster, Better, Cheaper: A Sociotechnical Perspective on the Meanings of Success and Failure in NASA’s Solar System Exploration Program
In the early 1990s NASA ceased building unmanned solar system exploration spacecraft costing billions of dollars in favor of deploying smaller, less expensive probes to facilitate more frequent launches to more destinations while distributing the technical and financial risks of exploration across several missions. NASA achieved its technoscientific goals for several missions developed under this “faster, better, cheaper” philosophy including successfully landing a spacecraft on Mars for the first time in more than two decades. After five space science missions produced in this manner failed in 1999, however, NASA embraced a more conservative, risk-averse stance regarding each of its missions. This paper explores why NASA’s commitment to “faster, better, cheaper” solar system exploration missions was so fleeting. Moving beyond conventional explanations couched in terms of the technical challenges of building reliable, low-cost spacecraft or NASA’s use of ineffective management techniques, I account for the approach’s short-lived nature in sociotechnical terms. NASA continually struggles to harmonize a “network” of spacecraft performance; national economic conditions; and the disparate goals, values, and definitions of success and failure for the solar system exploration program held by NASA managers, planetary scientists, U.S. political leadership, and the mass media. I argue that “faster, better, cheaper” solar system exploration missions emerged and ebbed because of the specific influences of specific sets of actors and factors on one another at the beginning and end of the 1990s, respectively. Examining this segment of solar system exploration history illuminates more generally the meanings and collective high standards that various actors attach to NASA’s space exploration efforts. Given these standards and that the technical challenges and cost of space flight remain formidable, debates and policy shifts will almost certainly continue concerning how best to explore the solar system.

Lambright, W. Henry
NASA, Big Science, and Mars Exploration: Critical Decisions From Goldin to Bolden
Since at least World War II, the concept of Big Science has come increasingly into public consciousness. While the term is somewhat ambiguous, it typically embraces large-scale, long-term, extremely expensive R&D endeavors with bold objectives and sometimes urgent deadlines.

Robotic Mars exploration falls into the Big Science realm. It has the highest public visibility within the planetary program. Mars stands out because of its long association with possible extraterrestrial life. It also stands out because it is the one planet outside Earth human beings might visit this century. The robotic exploration of Mars thus has two rationales: the quest to find extraterrestrial life, and as a precursor for extending the human species into space. What makes it especially interesting and managerially complex is that is a “distributed” form of Big Science. It is not one project but a sequence of projects, one building on another, and leading to a future goal.

This paper would review the history of NASA’s robotic Mars exploration program from1993 to 2012. It will analyze this period from the perspective of critical decisions by the agency’s leader. The Administrators who presided over NASA during this period have been Dan Goldin, Sean O’Keefe, Michael Griffin, and Charles Bolden. All NASA Administrators typically give most of their time to human space flight. But there are occasions when they play major roles in the stream of robotic Mars exploration decisions, and seek to influence the program’s course.

These decisions are usually about priority, money, organization, technology, and politics. They represent turning points. They arise from events internal to the program or from its environment. What impact did these decisions have on the pace and direction of the Mars program? Where did NASA leaders succeed in their goals? Where did they fail? Why? To answer these questions, the paper will focus on NASA Administrators, the situations they faced, the pressures on them, and the consequences of their choices for Mars exploration as a multi-project Big Science program.

Logsdon, John M. (With Andre Bormanis)
The Survival Crisis of the Planetary Program
The 1970s are fondly remembered as the first “golden age” of planetary exploration, highlighted by the Viking mission to the surface of Mars and the launch of two Voyager spacecraft to make a “grand tour” of the outer planets. What is not so well-remembered is that at the end of the decade the NASA planetary program faced an uncertain future, climaxing with 1981 proposals to terminate the program and turn the Jet Propulsion Laboratory into a research facility for the intelligence community.

The first step in this “survival crisis” was deciding that the United States would not send its own spacecraft to rendezvous in 1986 with Comet Halley as it made its every-76-year visit to the inner solar system. Then in 1981 the new administration of President Ronald Reagan gave serious consideration to canceling the totality of the NASA planetary program and declaring JPL surplus to NASA’s needs. This outcome was averted only by a combination of public and planetary science community protests and direct political intervention with the White House, including the president himself, by JPL/Caltech allies.

Shaken by this “near miss,” the planetary program in the 1981-1983 reinvented itself, developing a lower-cost approach to solar system exploration. That approach gained enough political support to allow the program to move forward, although it proved unsustainable.

This paper will track this crucial period in the history of the planetary exploration program. It will be based on primary documents and extensive interviews with key actors.

Macauley, William R.
‘Instant Science’: Space Probes, Planetary Exploration and Televisual Media
(NOTE: William Macauley was unable to attend and present his paper.)

Since the first Mariner missions in the early 1960s, planetary scientist and NASA advisor Carl Sagan (1934-1996) advocated attaching vidicon television cameras to interplanetary space probes as part of the payload for scientific experiments. He and others frequently claimed that television images taken by space probes are valuable both as empirical evidence for planetary scientists and also a convenient means of captivating mass audiences. The proposed paper will explore how and why television images have increasingly become a hallmark feature of NASA’s planetary exploration program. In addition to showing how Sagan and other actors played a central role in promoting the use of television cameras on planetary missions to acquire and communicate scientific knowledge, this paper will demonstrate how television images from space probes have been employed as rhetorical devices to persuade different audiences and convey a variety of meanings. Focusing on NASA’s Pioneer and Voyager missions during the 1970s, this paper will explain how pictures associated with planetary exploration are intricately linked to functional and aesthetic properties of televisual media. Similarly, visual conventions such as portraiture and travel photography will be identified and critically examined in discourse on pictures of planets and satellites obtained during Voyager’s Grand Tour of the solar system. The paper will also examine the significance of television experiments attached to space probes in relation to debates regarding the prioritization of space science or planetary exploration. The paper will trace how images acquired with Pioneer and Voyager probes were used by project scientists as a means of producing and communicating ‘instant science’ to news media producers and mass audiences. Further, it will show that the meaning of television images obtained with space probes is ascribed by actors rather than an intrinsic property of the image itself.

Markovski, Petar
International Cooperation in Solar System Exploration: The Cases of Ulysses and Giotto
In my paper I propose to explore the history of international cooperation in solar system exploration between NASA and the ESA, through an examination of two missions, Ulysses and Giotto. This presentation will be taken from part of my dissertation, titled “The Globalization of Space Science and Technology: The History of International and Transnational Cooperation at NASA and ESA.” Through my research, I aim to construct a history of the emergence of transnational, cooperative practices in space science and exploration.

Launched in 1990, Ulysses was designed to study the sun and in February 1992, the spacecraft attempted a swing-by maneuver around Jupiter in order to boost its trajectory toward the north and south poles of the sun. In detailing the history of Ulysses, I will explore and outline the dynamics of cooperation involved in the planning, launch, and operation involved between NASA and the ESA. Giotto, on the other hand, was launched in 1985 to study Halley’s Comet as the ESA’s first deep space mission. It was originally designed as a joint effort between the Europeans and Americans, but ultimately it was cancelled due to budget cuts at NASA. Giotto was salvaged as a larger international effort, between the Europeans, Soviets, and Japanese. Studying the history of Giotto will help to set some parity amidst the larger historical narrative of successful cooperation in space science. A comparative study between NASA and ESA, in which I investigate the successful cooperative effort of Ulysses along with a failed endeavor of Giotto, will not only help to illuminate the complexities involved in both the scientific and technical elements of cooperation in each attempt, but such an effort will also help to provide a more clear picture of the overall cooperative endeavor between two of the worlds premier space organizations.

Marov, Mikhail (With Huntress, Jr., Wesley T.)
First On The Moon, Venus and Mars: The Soviet Planetary Exploration Enterprise
The Soviet robotic solar system exploration program began in a spirit of bold adventure and technical genius. It ended after the fall of the Soviet Union and the failure of its last mission to Mars in 1996. This talk will chronicle the accomplishments of the Soviet’s planetary exploration enterprise from infancy to demise, placing each mission campaign in the context of Soviet program goals and competition with the United States. The Soviet program was bold and innovative, achieving many ‘firsts’ in space exploration, but also riddled with flaws that resulted in many failures. The individual lunar, Venus and Mars mission campaigns from the first launch attempts in 1958 through Mars 96 will be described briefly, including their science objectives, engineering highlights and results. The talk will concentrate on the early years of the program.

Neufeld, Michael
Transforming Solar System Exploration: The Applied Physics Laboratory and the Origins of the Discovery Program, 1989-1993
As space policy analyst Stephanie Roy noted in 1998, the Discovery Program is a rarity in the history of NASA solar system exploration. Similar reform programs proposed in the 1970s and 1980s failed to cut ballooning spacecraft sizes and budgets. Subsequent attempts at transformative programs like New Millennium, one might add, have also come and gone. But a crisis in NASA’s program in the early 1990s forced a transformation in how the agency did business, at least in part and at least in this area of space science. While proclamations that big, expensive “flagship” missions are dead have proven premature, the Discovery Program has continued to fund innovative small spacecraft that have allowed much more frequent access, particularly to the smaller bodies of the inner solar system.

This paper examines how the Discovery Program emerged between 1989 and 1993, largely as the result of the intervention of two people: Stamatios M. “Tom” Krimigis of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Maryland, who was Chief Scientist before 1991 and Head of the Space Department afterward, and Wesley T. “Wes” Huntress, who became Division Director of Solar System Exploration in 1990 and the Associate Administrator for Space Science in 1992. Krimigis drew on his leadership experience in the space physics community and his knowledge of its Explorer program to propose in mid-1989 that it was possible to create new missions to the inner solar system for a fraction of the existing costs. He continued to push that idea for the next two years, but it took the influence of Huntress at NASA Headquarters to put it on to the agenda. Huntress explicitly decided to use APL to force change on the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and the planetary science community. He succeeded in moving the JPL Mars Pathfinder and APL Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous (NEAR) mission proposals forward as the opening missions for Discovery. But it took Krimigis’s political skill and access to Sen. Barbara Mikulski in 1993 to get the NEAR into the NASA budget, thereby forestalling the possibility that Discovery would become another one-mission program.

Pappalardo, Robert
Revealing Europa’s Ocean
Since the early 1970s, planetary scientists have used theoretical and observational arguments to deliberate the existence of an ocean within Jupiter’s moon Europa and other large icy satellites. Europa remained a telescopic point of light until the Pioneer and Voyager spacecraft flybys of the 1970s. Moderate-resolution Voyager images showed that Europa is an intriguing moon like no other, with dark spots, domes, ridges, and bands. From 1996 to 2002, the Galileo spacecraft made over a dozen close flybys of Europa, providing strong evidence for global ocean beneath the frozen ice surface. Galileo magnetometry data indicates an induced magnetic field at Europa, implying a salt water layer. A paucity of large craters argues for a young surface and current-day activity, and two multi-ring structures are probably impacts punched through an ice shell ~20 km thick. Europa’s ocean and surface are inherently linked through tidal deformation of a floating ice shell, with tidal flexing generating stresses that fracture and deform the surface to create ridges and bands. Galileo discovered chaos terrains, which may indicate convection and partial melting within the ice shell. Europa’s geological activity and probable mantle contact may permit the chemical ingredients necessary for life to be present within its ocean, making Europa a top priority for future spacecraft exploration.

Peralta, Fernando
The Voyagers – Managing Aging Spacecraft During their Interstellar Mission
Celebrating 50 years of Solar System Exploration is a significant event in the history of humankind. Coinciding with this celebration, the Voyager twins (Voyager 1 and 2) commemorate their 35th anniversary of being not only an active participant in exploring the solar system, but also revolutionizing our knowledge of what up to this date has been beyond the reach of mere humans.

Voyager 1 and 2 were launched in September and August of 1977, respectively, with the intention of flying by Jupiter and Saturn. Voyager completed its Grand Tour of the planets in January of 1990, and the mission was repurposed with the unique quest to explore the outer edges of the heliosphere (Voyager Interstellar Mission, VIM). Voyager is characterizing the transition region between the bubble of the solar wind and the interplanetary medium and will soon travel into interstellar space.

It is important to remember that the twin Voyagers were not designed with the intention of entering interstellar space. This limitation and many others translate into managing aging spacecraft whose capabilities exceeded the original specification sheets a long time ago over. Power availability is the most critical component that drives decisions regarding which components are kept alive and functioning. Not all the desired components can be turned off since their power is critical to keep vital components warm due to the incredible distance the Voyagers are from their original home, Earth. These limitations as well as unexpected anomalies impose challenges that the flight and science teams have to manage. This paper documents the achievements and challenges the Voyager Flight team has encountered while flying the aging Voyager spacecraft during VIM. Unique “firsts” of many sorts have come along the way and many remain. This paper describes these historical “firsts” that have made the Voyagers unparalleled in the history of space exploration.

Russo, Arturo
Europe’s Rendezvous With Titan: The European Space Agency’s Contribution to the Cassini-Huygens Mission to the Saturnian System
The Cassini-Huygens mission to Saturn and its satellite system is the most ambitious effort in planetary exploration ever mounted. Launched in October 1997, the mission was realized as a joint endeavor of NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Italian Space Agency (ASI). It consists of a sophisticated spacecraft performing multiple orbital tours around Saturn, and a probe that was released from the main spacecraft to parachute through atmosphere to the surface of Saturn’s largest and most interesting moon, Titan. The twelve scientific instruments on the orbiter were designed for in-depth studies of the planet, its rings, atmosphere, magnetic environment and a large number of its moons. The six instruments on the probe provided direct sampling of Titan's atmospheric chemistry, and images of its surface. NASA provided the orbiter (Cassini), ESA provided the Titan probe (Huygens), and ASI provided the high-gain antenna and other hardware systems for the orbiter. Both the orbiter and the probe have successfully accomplished their scientific missions. Huygens completed its mission on the very day of its descent through Titan's atmosphere, on 14 January 2005, while the nominal mission of the Cassini orbiter came to an end on 30 June 2008, four years after the spacecraft entered orbit around Saturn. NASA, however has approved two extensions of the mission, that is now due to go through September 2017.

In this presentation, I will briefly discuss three aspects of the history of Cassini-Huygens as seen from a European perspective. First is the institutional framework which set the stage for the establishment of an important European effort in planetary exploration. In fact, it was only in the mid-1980s that an ambitious European planetary mission was considered as a realistic possibility, following the successful Giotto mission to Comet Halley. Huygens was the first European mission devoted to planetary exploration. The second aspect is the decision making process which led to the adoption of the Huygens mission in the ESA scientific program. The selection of a scientific mission in ESA's program is the outcome of a highly competitive process, involving the various national and disciplinary sectors of the space science community; the ESA executive staff; the European space industry; the space policies in ESA’s member states; the relations with NASA and other potential international partners; etc. Huygens is the first planetary mission that entered the ESA selection process on equal conditions with other proposals, supported by a large and motivated scientific constituency. Finally, the ESA/NASA relationship in the development of the Cassini-Huygens project is the third focus of my analysis. Originally conceived by a group of European scientists, it was soon evident that only a cooperative effort could make such an ambitious mission to become a concrete reality. However, while scientific cooperation worked smoothly and resulted in the successful achievement of the mission's scientific objectives, it was not so easy to cope with the different political and institutional frameworks in which the two agencies were operating.

Sarkissian, John
Mariner 2 and the CSIRO Parkes Radio Telescope: Fifty years of international collaboration
In December 1962, the CSIRO Parkes Radio Telescope tracked Mariner 2 as it flew by Venus. Just a year earlier, Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), had commissioned the 64‐metre Parkes Radio Telescope as the most advanced instrument of its kind in the world. The performance parameters and innovative design features of the Parkes telescope made it a near‐ideal instrument for tracking spacecraft in deep space. This attracted the attention of NASA/JPL who, at the time, were planning the next generation of large tracking antennae of the fledgling Deep Space Network (DSN). The Parkes telescope design was subsequently adapted and became the model for the large antennas of the DSN.

In order to maximise the scientific return of the Mariner 2 mission, NASA organized a coordinated, international program of ground‐based observations (both radio and optical) to be carried out in conjunction with the Mariner 2 encounter with Venus. Parkes was invited to participate in the program. The CSIRO considered it an excellent opportunity to demonstrate the capabilities of a 64‐meter class instrument for communication at planetary distances. The ensuing observations were a great success and provided valuable performance characteristics that were of interest in the design of the JPL antennas. The Parkes Mariner 2 tracks confirmed the suitability of its design and contributed greatly to the success of future cooperative ventures. As an example, the Parkes telescope tracked Mariner 4 when it encountered Mars in July 1965 and provided the DSN with its only 64‐meter capability for the mission.

These historic, first interplanetary missions began the long collaboration between NASA/JPL and Australia’s CSIRO in space tracking. This collaboration culminated with the Apollo manned lunar landing missions, and continued through the Voyager 2 encounters of Uranus and Neptune, Galileo at Jupiter, Huygens at Titan and most recently, Curiosity at Mars.

This presentation will describe the beginnings of this international collaboration and the special relationship that existed between Australia’s CSIRO and NASA/JPL. The impact of this relationship has had a profound and lasting effect on the design and performance of the large antennas of the Deep Space Network. This half‐century long relationship began with the Mariner 2 mission to Venus.

Zurek, Richard W.
Mars After 50 Years of Space Exploration: Then, Now and Beyond
The onset of interplanetary exploration with the launch in 1962 of the Mariner 2 spacecraft to Venus was followed two years later by the launch of Mariner 4, destined to be the first successful Mars flyby. At that point in time, Mars was believed to be a desert planet without mountains or oceans and with 10 times less surface pressure, but with vegetation that experienced a wave of darkening sweeping down from the springtime pole each year. Subsequent observation of Mars up close by spacecraft over the next five decades radically changed our vision of the planet several times. Milestones were Mariner 4’s revelation that the surface pressure was 100 (not 10) times less than Earth’s and that its surface was heavily cratered. Mariners 6 and 7 reinforced this lunar-like vision of Mars during their flights past the planet, while Mariner 9—the first spacecraft to orbit another planet—turned this picture upside down with observations of vast channels and valley networks on the planet’s surface, huge volcanic structures and rifts, and a planet-wide dust storm that lasted for months. Mars was a dynamic planet again, and in the mid-seventies two orbiters each dropped a lander for the first successful landings on the planet to search for life. This talk will conclude with recent discoveries and where we are in the ebb and flow of ideas about Mars as a possible habitat, together with a consideration of the exploration yet to be done on the red planet.

William P. Barry
NASA Chief Historian