Curious Mars

Mars: December 2012

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) invites scientists, technologists, and other qualified and interested individuals at U.S. institutions and elsewhere to apply for membership on the Science Definition Team (SDT) for the 2020 Mars science rover mission (hereafter Mars-2020). Mars-2020 is a strategic mission sponsored by NASA's Planetary Science Division, through the Mars Exploration Program, all of which are part of the Science Mission Directorate (SMD).

This mission will advance the scientific priorities detailed in the National Research Council's Planetary Science Decadal Survey, entitled "Vision and Voyages for Planetary Science in the Decade 2013-2022," (the Decadal Survey is available at ). Mars-2020 rover development and design will be largely based upon the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) architecture that successfully carried the Curiosity rover to the Martian surface on August 6, 2012 (UTC). The 2020 rover is intended to investigate an astrobiologically relevant ancient environment on Mars to decipher its geological processes and history, including the assessment of its past habitability and potential for preservation of biosignatures within accessible geologic materials.

Furthermore, because NASA is embarking on a long-term effort for eventual human exploration of Mars, the mission should provide an opportunity for contributed Human Exploration Mission Directorate (HEOMD) or Space Technology Program (STP) participation via payload elements aligned with their priorities and compatible with SMD priorities for Mars-2020 (e.g., MEPAG P-SAG report, posted June 2012 to MEPAG website: ).

The members of the Mars-2020 SDT will provide NASA with scientific assistance and direction during preliminary concept definition (Pre-Phase A) activities. Near-term activities of the SDT will include the establishment of baseline mission science objectives and a realistic scientific concept of surface operations; development of a strawman payload/instrument suite as proof of concept; and suggestions for threshold science objectives/measurements for a preferred mission viable within resource constraints provided by NASA Headquarters. The products developed by the SDT will be used to develop the NASA Science Mission Directorate (SMD) Announcement of Opportunity (AO) that will outline the primary science objectives of the baseline mission and the character of the payload-based investigations solicited under open competition via the AO. The SDT will be formed in January 2013, and disbanded after the work is complete approximately four months later.

Notices of Intent are requested by January 11, 2013, and proposals are due by March 1, 2013

This solicitation is for investigations in the Participating Scientist program to enhance the scientific return from the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) mission by broadening participation in the mission, augmenting the existing science team to include new investigations that broaden and/or complement the funded investigations, thus maximizing the contribution of the mission to the scientific understanding and future exploration of Mars. The second and equally important goal of this opportunity is to increase the number of scientists supporting mission planning and execution. While a large fraction of the planned observations will be planned in advance, real-time response to a brand-new set of observations is expected to result in an ongoing requirement for significant replanning. Additional investigators will contribute substantially to enhanced understanding of the data and to improved planning stimulated by the observations. Participating Scientist proposals can include investigations that are instrument specific or involve multiple instruments and, in all cases, must include both science analysis and a commitment to participate in operations planning in order to be considered.

On or about November 7, 2012, this Amendment to the NASA Research Announcement "Research Opportunities in Space and Earth Sciences (ROSES) 2012" (NNH12ZDA001N) will be posted on the NASA research opportunity homepage at and will appear on the RSS feed at:

Questions concerning this program may be addressed to Kelly Fast, Planetary Science Division, Science Mission Directorate, NASA Headquarters, Washington, DC 20546-0001.
E-mail:; Telephone: (202) 358- 0768.