Alan Stern, associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington, will host a media teleconference at 1 p.m. EDT, Wednesday, Aug. 1.
Stern: There is a new vigor at SMD and a new way of holding costs. With regard to reusing spacecraft, a peer reviewed process selected these two proposals. We originally have three comet flybys in the modern era. Now we are going to have 5.
With regard to future opportunities: In the last 3 months we have been looking at a process to standardize selection of these missions of opportunity - and have an annual call for proposals across a variety of disciplines so that we can get the most out of the spacecraft that we already have as well as with our partners on those missions.
Morris: astrophysics experiments selected as well for deployment on lunar surface. Astronomers will have access to more spacecraft and observatories in the coming year than ever before.
Green: Lunar sortie science - looking to pick 7 more proposals. This is our first opportunity to work with Human exploration portion of the program to deploy autonomous packages on the lunar surface. What measurements do we need and how can we get them? This is the start of that process.
Green: Enceladus plumes. Looking at closer flybys of Enceladus. How can a 500km body have enough internal heat to throw water into space at high speed? We are compelled to learn more about this. We are now looking at a closer approach to plume. Next opportunity is March 2008 at distance of 30-100 km form Enceladus. Will allow Cassini to move along the flow the plume allow hi res images and spectrographic data.
Stern: We are looking to get more out of the budget than we have - by holding down costs and increase productivity in missions.
Discovery program: when we finish with spacecraft we usually put it in hibernation. Changed that. Sending 2 missions to comets - going back to Tempel 1 with Stardust to map comet and see how comet has evolved after close approach to sun. Never been done before. Then, we are going to a new comet. Cost of 2 new missions combined is 15% of cost to launch 2 missions to begin with.
Kepler has had some developmental difficulties. They came back and asked for cost increase. We worked with the project for 3 months to protect out budget. Project found its way out of the woods without any increase.
SOFIA has had difficulties as well. Upgrades and flight tests lead to astronomy in 6 years (2013). That was too long of a wait. More productivity needed sooner. We directed SOFIA team to look at itself as a ground based observatory rather than a spacecraft. With a spacecraft you launch it and it is ready to go. But observatory takes time to reach full functionality. Now we will star producing science in 2009. Full operational capability will not be reached in 2014 - but at no additional cost.
Telecon start 1:00 pm EDT