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Blogs

Blog entries by Van Kane

Mars and Europa: Contrasts in Mission Planning

Posted by Van Kane on 2014/07/19 02:08 CDT | 30 comments

Several announcements for proposed missions to Mars and on the planning for a NASA return to Europa that highlight the contrasts in planning missions for these two high priority destinations.

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One Number, Two Budgets

Posted by Van Kane on 2014/06/17 01:03 CDT | 2 comments

The Senate and House have both agreed to increase NASA's budget to $17.9 billion, but they have very different ways of spending that money. The House bill would add additional funding to almost every category of the Planetary Science budget and would greatly strengthen NASA’s program of planetary exploration. The Senate bill would add substantial funds to the Mars program but pay for this by cuts to other portions of the planetary budget.

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A Checkup on Future Mars Missions

Posted by Van Kane on 2014/06/09 04:59 CDT | 3 comments

NASA’s Mars Exploration Analysis Group (MEPAG) recently reviewed plans by Europe, the Japanese, and NASA for future Mars exploration. The prognosis is for another exciting decade of Mars exploration.

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A Reluctant Dance Towards Europa

Posted by Van Kane on 2014/05/14 12:42 CDT | 15 comments

For the last two years, NASA has been the shy partner refusing to get on the dance floor, and Congress has been the aggressive partner insisting on a dance now. Recently, NASA has said maybe on another night but only if it’s a cheap date. While NASA says no for now, Congress looks to be willing to slip the band a cool $100M – on top of $150M already paid – to keep the music playing, but (to keep the metaphor going) has not been willing to fully commit itself to paying the bigger bill to rent the dance hall. The dance, of course, is the continuing attempt by Congress to have NASA commit to a mission to explore Europa, and NASA’s attempts to delay a mission well into the 2020s.

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Discovery Missions for an Icy Moon with Active Plumes

Posted by Van Kane on 2014/04/02 07:31 CDT | 8 comments

In December, scientists announced the discovery of possible plumes of water being ejected from Jupiters’s moon Europa. If confirmed, Europa would be the second moon with confirmed plumes after Saturn’s moon Enceladus. Two Discovery mission proposals for Enceladus suggest the types of missions that may be proposed for Europa.

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Further Analysis of NASA's FY15 Budget Proposal: Steady As She Goes?

Posted by Van Kane on 2014/03/22 10:23 CDT

The President’s proposed Fiscal Year 2015 budget details were released last week. For the next several years, the budget proposes a steady as she goes plan, but with two “what are they thinking?” surprises.

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Mission to a Metallic World: A Discovery Proposal to Fly to the Asteroid Psyche

Posted by Van Kane on 2014/02/19 07:45 CST | 1 comment

Imagine flying deep within the asteroid belt to study the most unreachable location in the solar system: the deep core of a terrestrial world.

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Discovery Next

Posted by Van Kane on 2014/02/08 08:36 CST | 5 comments

To paraphrase Forrest Gump, the Discovery program is like a box of chocolates – you never know what you’re going to get. The creativity of the scientific community has given us a wide assortment of missions in the past and is likely to surprise and delight us again.

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Russia's Ambitious Planetary Exploration Goals

Posted by Van Kane on 2014/01/22 11:58 CST | 5 comments

Roscosmos has ambitious planetary exploration plans in the coming decades, including a series of solo lunar missions and joint missions to Mars with the European Space Agency.

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Europa New Frontiers Mission? (Or why I like the Europa Clipper concept even more now)

Posted by Van Kane on 2014/01/07 05:14 CST | 3 comments

Europa remains a top priority for a future mission to explore whether it could host life. While the Europa Clipper mission, remains the current front runner, a senior NASA manager has suggested that the agency may look at still lower cost options. Van Kane looks at what those options might be.

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