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[Fwd: Five Discovery Mission Proposals Selected For Feasibility Studies]

The following may/may not be "on topic", but perhaps somebody on this
could/would be interested, so I'm forwarding it.

A.N. Hardy

Douglas Isbell
Headquarters, Washington, DC               November 12, 1998
(Phone:  202/358-1753)

RELEASE:  98-203


     In the first step of a two-step process, NASA has selected 
five proposals for detailed study as candidates for the next 
missions in the Agency's Discovery Program of lower-cost, highly 
focused scientific spacecraft.  

     In a unique step for this program, NASA has also decided to 
fund a co-investigator to provide part of an instrument to study 
the interaction between the solar wind and the atmosphere of Mars.  
It is scheduled to fly aboard the European Space Agency's Mars 
Express spacecraft in 2003.  NASA plans to consider such 
investigations, categorized as "Missions of Opportunity," in all 
future Discovery and Explorer program Announcements of 

     The mission proposals selected for further study would send 
spacecraft to orbit Mercury, return samples of the two small moons 
of Mars to Earth, study the interior of Jupiter, excavate and 
study material from deep inside a comet nucleus and investigate 
the middle atmosphere of Venus.

     The five missions were among 26 full mission proposals 
submitted to NASA.   "The degree of innovation in these proposals 
climbs higher each time we solicit ideas," said Dr. Ed Weiler, 
acting associate administrator for space science at NASA 
Headquarters.  "Deciding which one or two of these exciting 
finalists will be fully developed will be a very difficult choice 
-- any one of them promises to return unique insights into our 
Solar System.  Meanwhile, the solar wind instrument will fill in 
some critical gaps in our understanding of the history of water on 

     Following detailed mission concept studies, which are due for 
submission by March 31, 1999, NASA intends to select one or two of 
the mission proposals in June 1999 for full development as the 
seventh and possibly eighth Discovery Program flights.

     The selected proposals were judged to have the best science 
value among 30 total proposals submitted to NASA in response to 
the Discovery Announcement of Opportunity (AO-98-OSS-04) issued on 
March 31, 1998.  Each will now receive $375,000 to conduct a four-
month implementation feasibility study focused on cost, management 
and technical plans, including small business involvement and 
educational outreach.  As stated in the AO, the initial mission 
cost estimates will not be allowed to grow by more than 20 percent 
in the detailed final proposals.
 The selected proposals are:
 -  Aladdin,  a mission to gather samples of the small Martian 
moons Phobos and Deimos by firing projectiles into the moons' 
surface and gathering the ejecta during slow flybys.  It would 
then return the samples to Earth for detailed study.  Aladdin 
would be led by Dr. Carle Pieters of Brown University in 
Providence, RI, at a total mission cost to NASA, including 
launch vehicle and operations, of $247.7 million.
 -  Deep Impact, a flyby mission designed to fire an 1,100-pound 
(500 kilogram) copper projectile into the comet P/Tempel 1, 
excavating a large crater more than 65 feet (20 meters) deep, 
in order to expose its pristine interior ice and rock.  Deep 
Impact would be led by Dr. Michael A'Hearn of the University of 
Maryland, College Park, at a total cost of $203.8 million.
 -  The Interior Structure and Internal Dynamical Evolution of 
Jupiter, or INSIDE Jupiter, an orbiter spacecraft to study the 
giant gas planet's interior, and its relationship to the 
atmosphere, through intensive measurements of Jupiter's 
gravitational and magnetic fields.  INSIDE Jupiter would be led 
by Dr. Edward Smith of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, 
Pasadena, CA, at a total cost of $227.3 million.
 -  The Mercury Surface, Space Environment, Geochemistry and 
Ranging mission, or Messenger, an orbiter spacecraft carrying 
seven instruments to globally image and study the closest 
planet to the Sun.  Messenger would be led by Dr. Sean Solomon 
of the Carnegie Institution, Washington, DC, at a total cost of 
$279.3 million.
 -  The Venus Sounder for Planetary Exploration, or Vesper, an 
orbiter with four instruments to measure the composition and 
dynamic circulation of the middle atmosphere of Venus and its 
similarities to processes in Earth's atmosphere. Vesper would 
be led by Dr. Gordon Chin of NASA's Goddard Space Flight 
Center, Greenbelt, MD, at a total cost of $195.8 million.

     Aladdin and Messenger were finalists in the previous round of 
Discovery Program mission selections in 1997.

     The solar wind science hardware to be built as part of the 
selected Mission of Opportunity is intended for an instrument 
called the Analyzer of Space Plasmas and Energetic Atoms, or 
ASPERA-3.   The principal investigator for this instrument is Dr. 
R. Lundin of the Swedish Institute of Space Physics in Kiruna, 
Sweden.  The co-investigator being funded by NASA is Dr. David 
Winningham of the Southwest Research Institute, San Antonio, TX.   
NASA will provide approximately $5.3 million for the electron and 
ion spectrometer to be prepared for launch in 2003 aboard the Mars 
Express mission.

     The investigations proposed in response to this AO were 
required to address the goals and objectives of the Office of 
Space Science's Solar System Exploration theme, or the search for 
extrasolar planetary systems element of the Astronomical Search 
for Origins theme.  The missions must be ready for launch no later 
than Sept. 30, 2004, within the Discovery Program's development 
cost cap of $190 million in Fiscal 1999 dollars over 36 months, 
and a total mission cost of $299 million.

     The next launch of a Discovery mission is scheduled for Feb. 
6, 1999, when the Stardust mission will be sent on its way to 
gather a sample of comet dust and return it to Earth in January 
2006.  The first Discovery mission, the Near Earth Asteroid 
Rendezvous (NEAR) spacecraft, is due to arrive at its target 
asteroid, 433 Eros, on Jan. 10, 1999, for at least a year of 
close-up observations from an orbit around the Manhattan-sized 


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