Mars Science Community has been concerned that increasing costs of NASA’s Mars 2020 rover mission can reduce funds that can be used for other robotic missions. This is according to a presentation that was done at a meeting of NASA’s Planetary Science Advisory Committee. This 2-day meeting, that was held in late September in Washington DC and livestreamed, featured a presentation from the numerous groups in the planetary science community that is examining mission options as well as science goals for exploration of the planets, Earth as well as exoplanets.
Mars 2020 is the flagship-class mission or one of NASA’s most expensive as well as robust space exploration endeavors with the total cost which is estimated to be $2.46 billion. This is according to NASA’s latest budget request. This mission’s launch is imminent, targeted no earlier than July 2020. What does come next is still to be determined. Aileen Yingst, a renowned planetary geologist, who works with Planetary Science Institute said that the community has a concern about cost growth for Mars 2020 and how it could affect other Mars Mission. Yingst, who is also a co-investigator on SHERLOC Exploration Program Analysis Group, MEPAG, which is a team of planetary science experts which helps NASA to be able to know Science priorities for the Mars exploration.
While he said that the community is in favor of the Mars 2020, there are still some concerns about how this mission’s budget overrun could affect other priorities for the Mars exploration. For instance, despite Yingst didn’t state this directly, NASA is going to make a new mars orbiter to be able to relay the communication between Earth and Rovers, as existing spacecraft orbiting Mars are aging as well as nearing the end of their lives.
It is common for the large, as well as technical space objects to be able to go beyond their cost estimates, in part as a result of the instruments as well as hardware being developed, are a bit new. The flagship projects that includes James Webb Space Telescope that can be launched in the year 2021 as well as Hubble Space Telescope, that has been in operation for the last 30 years, with help of the numerous astronaut repair teams, far exceeding cost mark that is set in initial budget discussions. The proponents are often arguing that science returns on such over budget and often overdue projects do justify this cost.