New Frontiers Missions Shortlisted

NASA today announced the selection of two proposals for detailed study as candidates for the next mission in the agency’s New Frontiers Program.

The proposals are missions that would drop robotic landers into a crater at the south pole of the moon and return samples to Earth, and a mission that would orbit Jupiter from pole to pole for the first time to conduct an in-depth study of the giant planet.

“These two outstanding proposals were judged to be the best science value among the seven submitted to NASA in 2004,” said Dr. Ed Weiler, associate administrator for space science at NASA Headquarters, Washington. “It was a very tough decision, but we’re excited at the prospect of the discoveries either of them could make in continuing our mission of exploration of the solar system, and what they could tell us about our place in the universe,” he added.

Each proposal will now receive up to $1.2 million to conduct a seven-month implementation feasibility study focused on cost, management and technical plans, including educational outreach and small business involvement.

Following detailed mission concept studies, due for submission by March 2005, NASA intends to select one of the mission proposals for full development as the second New Frontiers mission by May 2005. The selected New Frontiers science mission must be ready for launch no later than June 30, 2010, within a mission cost cap of $700 million.

The selected full mission investigations, and the Principal Investigators, are:

– “Moonrise: Lunar South Pole-Aitken Basin Sample Return Mission,” Dr. Michael Duke Principal Investigator, Colorado School of Mines, Boulder. This investigation proposes to land two identical landers on the surface near the moon’s south pole and to return over two kilograms (about five pounds) of lunar materials from a region of the moon’s surface believed to harbor materials from the moon’s mantle.

– “Juno,” Dr Scott Bolton, Principal Investigator, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. This investigation proposes to use a highly instrumented spacecraft placed in a polar orbit about the planet Jupiter to investigate the existence of an ice-rock core, determine the global water and ammonia abundances in Jupiter’s atmosphere, study convection and deep wind profiles in the atmosphere, investigate the origin of the jovian magnetic field, and explore the polar magnetosphere.

The two selected proposals were submitted to NASA in February 2004, in response to the New Frontiers Program 2003 and Missions of Opportunity Announcement of Opportunity.

The New Frontiers Program is designed to provide opportunities to conduct several of the medium-class missions identified as the top priority objectives in the Decadal Solar System Exploration Survey, conducted by the Space Studies Board of the National Research Council.

NASA’s New Horizons mission, which will fly by the Pluto-Charon system in 2014 and then target another Kuiper belt object, was designated the first New Frontiers mission.

Original Source: NASA News Release