Mars Surveyor Program Goes Before Congress

The following document was being circulated amongst the planetary science community in the middle of May 1994. I reproduce it here in order to give you a glimpse of the process that is unfolding in Congress with regard to the fate of Mars Surveyor.

-- K. Edgett,, 22 May 1994.

Date: Fri, 20 May 94

From: squyres@astrosun.TN.CORNELL.EDU (Steve Squyres)

Subject: Mars Surveyor

Greetings: I am writing to you concerning the Mars Surveyor program and its
status in the Congressional budget process. Mars Surveyor is a new program to
send a series of low-cost orbiter and lander missions to Mars. It is the
replacement for both Mars Observer and MESUR in NASA's plans for Mars

Mars Surveyor was included for a new start in fiscal year 1995 in the
President's budget submission to Congress. Its status in the Congress,
however, is uncertain. In the Senate, there appears to be some support. The
Senate appropriations committee with NASA oversight has not yet receieved its
budget allocation, however, so substantial doubts remain. In the House, the
situation is still more difficult. There the budget allocation has been made,
and it is clear that some significant cuts will be made in the NASA budget on
the House side. In fact, the chairman of the House authorization committee
with NASA oversight recently introduced a bill eliminating Mars Surveyor from
the budget. However, the House appropriations subcommittee has not yet
generated its mark-up of the budget, so there is still some room for
maneuvering. If Mars Surveyor were to be approved by one appropriations
subcommittee but not the other, it would go to conference committee later this
summer for resolution.

It is extremely important at this stage in the budget cycle that supporters of
space science programs make their support known on Capitol Hill.  The House
mark-up of the budget is expected on June 6th, so any communications with
members of that subcommittee should take place well before then. The Senate
mark-up will probably be a few weeks later.

I have attached two documents to this note. One is a list of all the members
of both the House and Senate appropriations subcommittees that have
responsibility for the NASA budget. It gives office addresses, fax numbers,
and telephone numbers. For regular mail, it is adequate to use:

Honorable _____                     Honorable _____
United States Senate                United States House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20510-1103           Washington, DC 20515-1101

The other document is a writeup generated at JPL and edited by me that
describes some key characteristics of the Mars Surveyor program. It does not
dwell on Mars science, since I assume that most recipients of this note are
already familiar with the important scientific problems at Mars that can be
addressed by this program. 

If you choose to contact Congressional representatives regarding Mars
Surveyor, both of these documents may be helpful to you.  Along with
appropriations subcommittee members, it is also always helpful to contact your
own local representatives.

One suggestion I would like to make: Mars Surveyor is, in a real sense, in
competition with other portions of the NASA budget. Experience has shown that
it is productive to promote programs in which you are interested, but
counter-productive to do so at the expense of other programs. It will help to
say good things about Mars Surveyor, but it will not help to say bad things
about other parts of the NASA budget.

I am distributing this message widely to members of the planetary science
community. Please feel free to forward it to your colleagues.

Thank you,

Steve Squyres




Louis Stokes (Chair)       Jim Chapman                Esteban Torres
2365 Rayburn House         2417 Rayburn House         1740 Longworth House
Washington, DC  20515      Washington, DC  20515      Washington, DC  20515
ph: 202-225-7032           ph: 202-225-3035           ph: 202-225-5256
fax: 202-225-1339          fax: 202-225-7265          fax: 202-225-9711

Allan Mollohan             Marcy Kaptur               Ray Thornton
2242 Rayburn House         2104 Rayburn House         1214 Longworth House
Washington, DC  20515      Washington, DC  20515      Washington, DC  20515
ph: 202-225-4172           ph: 202-225-4146           ph: 202-225-2506
fax: 202-225-7564          fax: 202-225-7711          fax: 202-225-9273


Jerry Lewis
(Ranking Minority Member)  Dean Gallo                 Tom DeLay
2312 Rayburn House         2447 Rayburn House         407 Cannon House
Washington, DC  20515      Washington, DC  20515      Washington, DC  20515
ph: 202-225-5861           ph: 202-225-5034           ph: 202-225-5951
fax: 202-225-6498          fax: 202-225-0658          fax: 202-225-5241



Barbara Mikulski (Chair)   J. Bennett Johnston        Frank Lautenberg
709 Hart Senate            136 Hart Senate            506 Hart Senate
Washington, DC  20510      Washington, DC  20510      Washington, DC  20510
ph: 202-224-4654           ph: 202-224-5824           ph: 202-224-4744
fax: 202-224-8858          fax: 202-224-2952          fax: 202-224-9707

J. Robert Kerrey           Dianne Feinstein           Patrick Leahy
303 Hart Senate            331 Hart Senate            433 Russell Senate
Washington, DC  20510      Washington, DC  20510      Washington, DC  20510
ph: 202-224-6551           ph: 202-224-3841           ph: 202-224-4242
fax: 202-224-7645          fax: 202-228-3954          fax: NONE


Phil Gramm                 Alfonse D'Amato            Don Nickles 
(Ranking Minority Member)  520 Hart Senate            133 Hart Senate
370 Russell Senate         Washington, DC  20510      Washington, DC  20510
Washington, DC  20510      ph: 202-224-6542           ph: 202-224-5754
ph: 202-224-2934           fax: 202-224-5871          fax: 202-224-5754
fax: 202-228-2856

Christopher (Kit) Bond     Conrad Burns
293 Russell Senate         183 Dirksen Senate
Washington, DC  20510      Washington, DC  20510
ph: 202-224-5721           ph: 202-224-2644
fax: 202-224-8149          fax: 202-224-8594



Mars Surveyor is an aggressive but cost constrained program to explore Mars
over the decade extending from 1997 through 2006.  Consisting of small
orbiters and landers built by industry and launched to Mars at 26-month
intervals from 1996 through 2005, the Surveyor Program will conduct
investigations designed to address the mysteries surrounding the most
Earth-like planet in our solar system. It will acquire much of the data that
would have been returned by Mars Observer, and also replaces the Mars
Environmental Survey (MESUR) mission in NASA's plans. The cost of Mars
Surveyor is quite modest compared to these other missions: $120-150 million
per year, including all flight systems, launch costs, mission operations, and
data analysis.

The first mission in the Mars Surveyor Program, designated the Mars Global
Surveyor (MGS), is scheduled for launch in November 1996 aboard a Delta launch
vehicle and is designed to accomplish many of the objectives of the original
Mars Observer mission as well as provide a data relay capability for future
surface missions.  The 1996 MGS mission is followed with two launches during
the 1998 opportunity: a small orbiter approximately one-half the size of MGS
with the goal of carrying the balance of the Mars Observer payload; and a
small lander derived from, but smaller than the 1996 Mars Pathfinder lander.
Both 1998 spacecraft are planned for launch aboard a new launch vehicle,
designated the "Med-Lite", which provides approximately one-half the
performance of a Delta for approximately one-half the cost.

Additional landers and orbiters are planned for launch during the 2001, 2003,
and 2005 Mars launch opportunities to continue and expand the investigations
initiated by the 1996 and 1998 orbital and surface missions.  It is envisioned
that this portion of the Mars Surveyor Program would serve as the cornerstone
for an international Mars exploration program involving many countries in a
highly synergistic and cost-effective approach to establishing a network of
environmental monitoring stations on the surface of Mars.

Because of the inherent interest and excitement generated by planetary
exploration, particularly the allure of Mars, the Surveyor Program provides an
excellent vehicle for conducting a far reaching science, mathematics, and
space education program directed to grammar, middle, and high school students.
The key to Mars Surveyor educational outreach plans is the connection of the
engineering, science, and management problems faced during the implementation
of Mars missions to the fundamental physical, as well as economic and social,
principles typically taught at various levels from kindergarten through
graduate school. Significant funds have been set aside within the Mars
Surveyor program for educational programs.

Mars Surveyor also provides an opportunity for significant technology
development, infusion, and transfer.  The cost constrained nature of Mars
Surveyor mandates the development and infusion of technologies which provide
either significant reductions in the size and weight of spacecraft or
increased autonomy of spacecraft in carrying out their exploration and science
missions.  Small spacecraft can be launched by smaller, cheaper launch
vehicles.  Highly autonomous spacecraft reduce operations costs by requiring a
much smaller number of flight controllers than required to monitor and command
current spacecraft.  Technologies which have potential dual use applications
by commercial enterprises will be identified and mechanisms will be
established to insure the efficient transfer of these technologies to

In summary, the Mars Surveyor Program exemplifies the faster, better, cheaper
philosophy critical to the successful re-invention of NASA and other
government agencies.  Faster - the maximum development cycle for any mission
in the Surveyor suite is less than 3 years.  Better - multiple launches of
small spacecraft and the prospects of international cooperation provide for a
high science return from a program that is not reliant on the success of any
single component or mission.  Cheaper - total annual costs for the Surveyor
Program are capped at less than $150M.