NASA is soliciting ideas from U.S. industry for designs of a Mars orbiter for potential launch in the 2020s. The satellite would provide advanced communications and imaging, as well as robotic science exploration, in support of NASA’s Journey to Mars.
The orbiter would substantially increase bandwidth communications and maintain high-resolution imaging capability. It also may use experimental cutting-edge technologies, such as high-power solar electric propulsion or an optical communications package, which could greatly improve transmission speed and capacity over radio frequency systems.
Under the direction of NASA’s Mars Exploration Program, the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, is conducting pre-formulation planning for this possible orbiter mission. Pre-formulation plans include the procurement of industry studies for a solar-powered orbiting spacecraft. This effort seeks to take advantage of industry capabilities to improve deep space, solar electric propulsion-enabled orbiters to accommodate scientific instruments, demonstrate capability for rendezvous and capture, and advance telecommunications capabilities. (…)
To view the Mars orbiter solicitation/Federal Business Opportunities announcement, visit: http://1.usa.gov/1qFw0Le (If necessary, search on “Next Mars Orbiter” or “NeMO”; the solicitation is number MM-16-02.) [More at links]