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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 1998 > Jul > Jul 15

NASA May Send the Marie Curie Rover to Mars

From: Mark LeCuyer <randydan@wavetech.net>
Date: Tue, 14 Jul 1998 20:15:33 -0500
Fwd Date: Wed, 15 Jul 1998 06:53:11 -0400
Subject: NASA May Send the Marie Curie Rover to Mars

From: Mark - Alien Astronomer

For more information see http://www.marssociety.org


As a result of the $20 million added to the Mars 2001 mission by
the Senate Appropriations Committee following mobilizations by
the Mars Society and the Planetary Society, NASA is now
considering restoring a rover to the mission. NASA had
originally planned to fly the highly capable Athena rover to
Mars in 2001, however after the administration took $60 million
from the program to pay for a Space Station overrun, the Athena
rover was pulled from the mission. The $20 million restored is
not enough to support flying Athena, but it may be possible to
fly the smaller Marie Curie rover equipped with some of Athena's
instrumentation. Marie Curie is about the size of the Sojourner
rover flown to Mars by the Pathfinder mission in 1997, but could
be made more sophisticated. In particular, increasing the power
of her transmitter could allow Marie Curie to report back
through the orbiter, as well as the lander, thus allowing her to
rove over the horizon from the landing site and to continue
operations after the lander fails. Flying her in 2001 would be a
major step towards restoring the forward motion in the robotic
Mars program that was severely endangered after the
Administration's unsound decision to strip committed funds from
the 2001 Mars mission. To insure that she flies, the Senate
Appropriations Committee will need to follow the $20 million
they wisely restored to the program this year with another $30
million next year. Committee staffers have implied that they
will do this, but the situation is fluid and continued
political pressure is needed to make sure that this occurs.

The real issue however, is that the robotic Mars program is
grossly underfunded. For a budget of $150 million per year
(about 1% of NASA's budget) they need to launch two
Discovery-class missions to Mars every two years while preparing
the technology base for a much more ambitious Mars Sample Return
mission, tentatively scheduled for 2005. In reality, in order
for this program to be accomplished, the funding for the Mars
program needs to be doubled. It should be: No other current NASA
program is accomplishing near as much for anything like the
cost. Furthermore, for the administration not to do so is a
direct violation of President Clinton's pledge of August 1996 to
"put the full technological and intellectual might of the United
States behind the search for life on Mars." Beyond this, of
course, is the need for starting the humans to Mars program,
beginning at a funding level equal to that of the robotic Mars

Marie Curie may not be the Goddess of Wisdom, but she's the next
best thing. If she flies, it will be because of the political
pressure mounted by the Mars Society and like minded people so
far, and that which we will mobilize in the future. The same can
be said for raising the funding of the robotic Mars program
overall to an adequate level, and getting the humans-to-Mars
program started. It can happen, but it will only happen if we
make it happen. Everyone needs to speak up.

Save the robotic Mars exploration program. Start the human
exploration program.  Send these gentlemen your message!

President Bill Clinton - president@whitehouse.gov
Vice President Al Gore - vice.president@whitehouse.gov
NASA Administrator Dan Goldin -dgoldin@mail.hq.nasa.gov
Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott  (R-MS) -
Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (R-GA) - georgia6@mail.house.gov
Senator Christopher Bond, Chairman VA, HUD, and Independent Agencies
Subcommittee - kit_bond@bond.senate.gov
Representative Jerry Lewis (R-CA), Chairman VA, HUD, and Independent
Agencies Subcommittee - c/o dave.lesstrang@mail.house.gov

Further information about the situation with the 2001 Mars
mission can be found in Mars society Special Bulletins #2 and
#3, which are posted on the Mars society website at