NASA Will Build Another Curiosity Mars Rover
By Frank Morring, Jr., Michael Mecham
Source: Aviation Week & Space Technology
But the entry, descent and landing that worked so well on Curiosity won't be duplicated. Some changes likely will be made to take advantage of lessons learned and accommodate more mission mass. Grunsfeld notes the heat shield that protected Curiosity during atmospheric entry was “very conservative, very thick,” and analysis shows there might not have been a need for so much shielding. While there might be weight savings with a thinner shield, Grunsfeld says mission planners also must decide “is that a cost-driver?”
While NASA says the 2020 mission will fit into the budget profile carried in NASA's fiscal 2013 budget for Mars exploration, the mission is contingent on the funds actually being appropriated by Congress. And Grunsfeld says the same budget profile fell short of the funding needed to support a launch in 2018, when the planetary alignment would be particularly favorable for a trip to Mars.