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Cugel
2005-Mar-21, 04:24 PM
http://www.spacedaily.com/news/mars-future-05f.html

Interesting (long) article about recent and coming missions. Somewhere in the middle of this paper we hear Prof. Squyres say: "...it still has not been established that any place on Mars ever featured a really long-lasting body of standing surface water, which would be hugely important for the evolution of native life."

It seems that the 'shallow sea deep enough to swim in' never existed at Meridiani after al...

The article also mentions some very promising plans to turn MSL into some sort of 'Standard Mars Rover' and fly multiple missions with it. They now even want to use it in the first sample return mission, to collect the samples. The sample return mission has to be 'spread' over missions because the French have abandoned the program and its to expensive (4 to 5 billion) for the US to do it in a single mission.

Nicolas
2005-Mar-21, 04:43 PM
By saying "the French", do you really mean "the French [space agency]" or completely "ESA"?

Tacitus
2005-Mar-21, 04:46 PM
It must be the ESA - they are the only agency in Europe (outside Russia, anyway) that perform interplanetary missions.

Nicolas
2005-Mar-21, 04:48 PM
Yes, but it could have been that only French money was put in that project, or that it was a venture by the French outside of ESA (private companies working on the project) or something else. That's why I asked.
I assume "ESA" however. (That includes my tax money :))

Cugel
2005-Mar-21, 05:34 PM
As far as I know the French (not ESA) would contribute a return vehicle that would pickup the samples in Mars orbit and then fly back to Earth. In this scenario the collecting of the samples on Mars would be done by a US lander/rover. However, this plan was still in a very early stage and apparently never matured into a real project.

By the way, did you read the part about the 'Test Bed Missions' ?
Amazing stuff, just to testfly a 4 ton lander would cost more than a sample return mission. The real (manned) thing comes in at 40 tonnes... or more.

pumpkinpie
2005-Mar-21, 06:44 PM
Incidentally, this is the same article that was posted on March 9th, which I started a thread about, called Next On Mars. (http://www.badastronomy.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?t=20255&) Don't know why they put it out again! And I wish they had done some editing. Like Cugel said, it's long, and it's not divided into any sections. It's interesting, but hard to get through!

Nicolas
2005-Mar-21, 07:01 PM
As far as I know the French (not ESA) would contribute a return vehicle that would pickup the samples in Mars orbit and then fly back to Earth. In this scenario the collecting of the samples on Mars would be done by a US lander/rover. However, this plan was still in a very early stage and apparently never matured into a real project.

By the way, did you read the part about the 'Test Bed Missions' ?
Amazing stuff, just to testfly a 4 ton lander would cost more than a sample return mission. The real (manned) thing comes in at 40 tonnes... or more.

Thanks for the explanation. Coming from Holland, I assume (on reflection) you do know the difference between "the French" and "ESA". And you probably know that many other people use one word when they mean another, because many happen to speak french at ESA/Kourou, and "France and Europe is about the same thing" :) :roll: :D
(btw the same goes for Airbus)

I hadn't heard about this part of the project being a co÷peration between US and France. And as it already is shelved... :)

Those manned craft will be quite a challenge! (not like sending a sample return mission to Mars -which happens to be a lot further than the moon, and has an atmosphere to name just two things- would be easy.)

JonClarke
2005-Mar-21, 10:11 PM
[Somewhere in the middle of this paper we hear Prof. Squyres say: "...it still has not been established that any place on Mars ever featured a really long-lasting body of standing surface water, which would be hugely important for the evolution of native life."

It seems that the 'shallow sea deep enough to swim in' never existed at Meridiani after al...

These statements are not mutually exclusive. It depends what you mean by "long lasting". There are plenty of large water bodies on earth than are dry 90% of the time but still can have water deep enough to swim in on occasion. There were certainly open water bodies on Mars, at least during the Hesperian. We don't know whether they lasted for a few years, a few thousand years, a few million years, or a billion years. They would have to have lives of 10's to 100's of millions of years to be considered long lasting from a geological perspective.

Cugel
2005-Mar-21, 11:01 PM
And then again... we don't know how much water it takes for a geology professor to swim in! Still, I have the feeling that since the first press conferences the ideas about this 'Meridiani sea' have changed. So much actually that we are no longer talking about 'a standing body of open water' but merely about percolating acidic groundwater. Of course, with the possibillity of short (geologically), intermittent periods with some surface water (flowing streams or just rainfall?). But surely a shift in the general scientific opinion since early last year. Or am I jumping to conclusions?