Monday, June 29, 2009


I am still traveling, so posts will still be erratic until towards the end of July. I did catch an internet connection long enough to find a list of web articles you may want to follow up on.

The most important comes first, the first meeting of the Decadal Survey. I will be unable to listen in; if anyone does and writes up a summary, I'll post it here.


The National Research Council's Planetary Science Decadal Survey will
webcast all of the open sessions during the 6-8 July meeting of its
Steering Group. The webcast will be available at the following URL:

Audio can be accessed via a telephone call to 1-866-878-9452, passcode
9387576. The times of the open sessions is available on the meeting
agenda posted on the decadal survey's website at


Cost overruns have bedeviled planetary programs from multiple agencies, but they are not unique to planetary programs. The journal Science's blog discusses the cost overruns on the United State's next generation of polar weather/climate satellites. To put it simply, the program has become a disaster of diminishing expectations and increasing costs. Note that the new cost estimate for the program, $14B is greater than NASA's budget for a decade of planetary exploration.


The same Science blog site also has an article on how cost and weight overruns have caused ESA to drope the Humboldt station from the ExoMars mission.

--------------- has a long article on ESA and NASA's planned collaboration on the ExoMars mission. The current plans have NASA providing the launch vehicle for ESA's ExoMars rover and NASA's Mars Science orbiter. (The latter will focus on locating the sources of methane and other short-lived gases in the Martian atmosphere.) From the article, it sounds like there will have to be substantial engineering work to make this happen. The article also discusses why ESA and NASA will not be able to collaborate on a dark energy mission.


Outside of the planetary program, NASA has selected its next two astronomy/astrophysics explorer missions.

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