Mars Together: An Update
Mars Together is a concept for the joint exploration of Mars by a combined
Russian and American effort. It was started in the spring of 1994 and bore
its first fruit in the summer of 1995. A Russian Co-Principle Investigator
(Co-PI) and Russian hardware were incorporated into the PMIRR experiment
(Pressure Modulated Infrared Radiometer) to be flown on the Mars Surveyor
1998 orbiter. Vassili Moroz of the Space
Research Institute in Moscow will Co-PI with Dan McCleese of NASA's
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology in Pasadena,
CA. The Institute will also provide the optical bench for the PMIRR Instrument.
An additional Russian instrument is under consideration for inclusion on
the Mars Surveyor 1998 lander.
An early prototype model of the Mars Together stack
Meanwhile, more extensive collaboration is under consideration for a 2001
mission. A joint Russian/American Mars Together team has been formed to
study a combined U.S./Russian spacecraft launched by a Russian Molniya rocket.
The exact configuration is still under study, but Russia expects to include
a descent module containing the Marsokhod rover in their part of the payload.
Finally, NASA and the Russian Space Agency (RSA) agreed to start planning
toward a potential sample return mission in the mid 00's. A joint science
team has been charted to study this possibility. Russia's primary interest
is in returned samples from Phobos, whereas the U.S. has a stronger interest
in Mars itself.
The European Space Agency (ESA) has
nearly completed a joint Phase A study with NASA for a 2003 mission called
InterMarsNet. The plan is for a single launch of a European Ariane rocket
that would carry a European orbiter and three U.S. landers. The landers
would form a science network on the Martian surface. The Mars Surveyor program
has been participating with ESA and would include the landers. InterMarsNet
is in competition with a number of other missions for a place in ESA's queue.
An ESA decision on this competition is expected in April 1996.