Mars Perseverance Media Briefing

Keith's note: NASA held a Mars Perseverance media briefing today. I asked a question that follows up on my earlier post "NASA's Mars 2020 Websites Are Not Ready For Prime Time" wherein I noted that NASA PAO and the Aeronautics and Technology directorates are not paying all of the attention to this mission as you'd expect them to be. My question:

"My question should be addressed to people who are not present on this panel so I will direct it to Dr. Zurbuchen instead. The Mars 2020 mission involves the flight of the Ingenuity helicopter drone which is a joint effort by the NASA Science Mission Directorate, the Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate, and the Space Technology Mission Directorate. We just heard a quote from the new Vice President. At a time when this new Administration talks about "whole of government approaches" one would think that the "whole of NASA" would be using their various outreach tools to talk about this helicopter and the overall mission. Yet the Aeronautics and Technology mission directorates have been utterly silent to their respective audiences about Ingenuity or their role in it its development. This is odd since this rover and its helicopter seem to have relevance to virtually everything that NASA does with applicability to things in many people's everyday lives. As such, why isn't the "whole of NASA" doing their best to highlight the diverse capabilities of this mission?"

Zurbuchen agreed with the general premise of my question and said that NASA is always trying to do things better. "I met with the Aeronautics and Technology AAs this morning about this. As we go forward we will be learning from each other. This truly is a whole of government mission like we have never had before.". Full audio of Zurbuchen's response below.

At one point with regard to a question on Mars sample return one of the JPL briefers said "Samples will be returned to Earth some time in the 2030s". In other words, samples will be returned at the same time that humans are heading to Mars if you accept NASA's long-standing timeline for human missions to Mars. NASA has long stated that sample return from Mars was needed in advance of sending humans to Mars so as to understand any potential risks and to plan missions to deal with what may be found. Now (apparently) the samples will come back after mission design is mostly decided. Also, if Mars sample return to Earth and missions with humans from Earth to Mars are roughly simultaneous, then why spend a billions on a robotic sample return when you are sending humans to Mars to do the same type of studies? There is a broken logic path here. Or perhaps the science and human exploration folks are not in perfect synch with one another.

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This page contains a single entry by Keith Cowing published on January 27, 2021 5:52 PM.

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