Clementine 2, a joint venture between the U.S. Air Force Space Warfare Center, Phillips Laboratory and NASA, is intended to rendezvous with a number of near-Earth asteroids and characterize each via probe impact. Little information has been forthcoming on this project, but it is being funded. (paper ref.) Targets being considered include asteroids 1987 OA, 1989 UR, and 1991 JX. Objectives include analyzing the dynamic strength of surface material, crater formation, dust cloud composition, stratification, thermal properties, and of course spectral data for composition and mechanical properties. See also the now famous past probe Clementine 1. You're encouraged to politically support Clementine 2 in any appropriate way you can.
Some notes on flight ready hardware:
- When a probe goes into production, it's not a bad idea to consider having the designers produce some extra copies at the same time, which reduces the cost per copy. Extra copies of probes are less expensive than the first copy, due to design costs, as long as you order it before the manufacturers scrap their production line.
- REGA (Regolith Evolved Gas Analyzer) (paper ref.) is a flight instrument under development at the NASA Johnson Space Center (JSC) for flying on probes to measure volatiles in samples of regolith "[f]or bodies such as the Moon or asteroids". It consists of a small programmable furnace which can measure volatiles released at different temperatures, a supply of reactant gas, and a quadrupole trap mass spectrometer. It is a small instrument (15 x 20 x 27 cm - less than 0.03 cubic meters) with a mass less than 5 kg, requiring only 50 watts of power. The soil sample size is 1 gram, and maximum oven temperature is 900 C. It is covered in Chapter 1.
- Space Engineering Research Center (SERC) at the University of Arizona has produced a little laboratory electrolysis plant to produce oxygen from solids, and is progressing towards a space qualified design. "This unit, called MOXCE, is capable of producing 0.1 kg of Oxygen per hour and has proven extremely rugged. At this time a second generation plant, called MOXCE2, is under development."
- An interesting paper was presented at the 1993 Princeton Conference entitled "Early Lunar Access" (paper ref.) on using existing transportation systems to return crews to the Moon before the end of the century for starting a permanent, expandable lunar outpost, using the Space Shuttle, or the Titan IV or Ariane V with the Centaur upper stage to launch the mission. The author, Paul H. Bialla of the General Dynamics Space Systems Division in San Diego, California, showed that the only significantly new development is a lunar excursion vehicle, which itself is a derivative of an Apollo module. Since the majority of the transportation infrastructure already exists, his approach is low risk and low cost.
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