GSA Connects 2021 in Portland, Oregon

Paper No. 200-4
Presentation Time: 8:50 AM


KELLEY, Michael1, DAVIS, Richard M.1, COLLOM, Robert B.1, VIOTTI, Michelle A.2 and HOLLIBAUGH BAKER, David M.3, (1)NASA Headquarters, 300 E Street SW, Washington, DC 20546, (2)Canadian Space Agency, Canadian Space Agency, Government of Canada, 6767 route de l’aéroport, St-Hubert, QC J3Y 8Y9, Canada, (3)NASA Goddard Spaceflight Center, 8800 Greenbelt Rd., Greenbelt, MD 20771

This talk will provide an overview of ongoing planning for the International Mars Ice Mapper mission, which would detect the location, depth, spatial extent, and abundance of near-surface (top 5-10 meters) water ice, as well as the geotechnical characteristics of its overburden. NASA is collaborating with the Canadian, Italian, and Japanese space agencies to develop this concept. An Agency-level initiative, Mars Ice Mapper would be the first dedicated reconnaissance mission to Mars designed to focus on “what we need to know before humans go.”

Finding places on Mars with abundant, accessible, near-surface water ice will drive the future selection and characterization of candidate sites for the first human mission(s) to the surface. Access to water ice will be central to scientific investigations led by future human explorers on the surface, who may one day core, sample, and analyze the ice to understand the record of climate and geologic change on Mars. Water ice is also a critical Martian natural resource that would supply local "ingredients" for propellant (hydrogen as a component of methane and oxygen) to launch astronauts from the Martian surface for their return trip to Earth, as well provide resources for back-up life support, civil engineering, mining, manufacturing, and eventually, agriculture.

The mission concept includes a sun-synchronous, polar orbiter carrying a multimode, L-band synthetic aperture radar (SAR) / SAR Sounder and the possibility of additional high-altitude communications orbiters. This next-generation communications capability would support the high data volume from the SAR, enable continuous connectivity between Earth and Mars, and provide high-bandwidth, high-data-rate communications orders of magnitude greater than current capabilities for all future Mars missions.

Exploring Martian ice reserves addresses key themes for the next decade of scientific exploration. Multilateral mission planners are exploring rideshare opportunities as part of their study. All science data from the mission would be made available to the international science community for both planetary science and reconnaissance.

This talk will focus on the status of the current multilateral concept study for the mission and the science knowledge gaps Ice Mapper is intended to fill.