Wednesday, January 6, 2016

The Discovery Program Series: DAVINCI (PI: Lori Glaze, Managed by NASA Goddard Space Flight Center)

This post is part of a series discussing the recent NASA Discovery Program mission selections for further refinement.  From the 27 proposals submitted in November of 2014, NASA has selected 5 missions for further refinement in the next year. Part 1 of the series focused on the overview of the Discovery refinement selections and an interview with the Lead Program Scientist for the Discovery Program, Dr. Michael New. Part II focussed on the Psyche Mission (PI: Linda Elkins-Tanton, Arizona State University, Managed by JPL). Part III will focus on the NEOCam Mission (PI: Amy Mainzer, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Managed by JPL).  Part IV will focus on the Lucy Mission (PI: Hal Levison, Southwest Research Institute, Managed by NASA Goddard Space Flight Center). Part V will focus on the DAVINCI Mission (PI: Lori Glaze, Managed by NASA Goddard Space Flight Center).

Mission Overview: DAVINCI

The Deep Atmosphere Venus Investigation of Noble gases, Chemistry, and Imaging (DAVINCI) mission would send a probe on a journey down through Venus’ atmosphere, winding up in the planet’s roughest and most geologically complex terrain. The probe would explore the planet’s atmosphere essentially from top to bottom, even the deep layers largely hidden from Earth-based instruments and orbiting spacecraft. DAVINCI would be the first U.S. probe to target Venus’ atmosphere in nearly four decades.

The top-level goals of DAVINCI are to
Understand the origin of the Venus atmosphere, its evolution and why it is different than Earth and Mars,
Understand the history of water on Venus and chemical processes at work in its lower atmosphere, and
Provide insight into tessera origins and their tectonic and weathering history.

DAVINCI is designed to study the makeup of the planet’s atmosphere at a level of detail that has not been possible on earlier Venus missions and to investigate the surrounding surface with cameras. DAVINCI will fly two different types of mass spectrometers, as well as temperature and pressure sensors, to explore how Venus’ atmosphere formed and then changed over time, including what happened to its water. The findings would help scientists understand why Venus and Earth took such different paths as they matured and provide another point of comparison for studies of rocky planets in other star systems. Goddard would manage the mission, which launches in 2021 and descends through the Venus atmosphere in 2023.

About the Mission PI (Lori Glaze):

Dr. Lori S. Glaze is the Principal Investigator of the Deep Atmosphere Venus Investigation of Noble gases, Chemistry, and Imaging (DAVINCI).  She is also currently serving as the Deputy Director of the Solar System Exploration Division at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.   Dr. Glaze’s expertise includes scientific research on physical processes in terrestrial and planetary volcanology, atmospheric transport and diffusion processes, geologic mass movements, and environmental and geologic hazards.  She has more than 50 peer-reviewed publications focused on data analysis and theoretical modeling of surface processes on all the terrestrial solar system bodies.

Dr. Glaze has been very active in the Venus science community throughout her career. In 2008-2009, Dr. Glaze was a member of the NASA chartered Venus Flagship Science and Technology Definition Team and a member of the Inner Planets Panel of the 2010 Planetary Decadal Survey. She has been a member of the Venus Exploration Analysis Group (VEXAG) Executive Committee since 2009, and has been the VEXAG Chair since 2013. She is also serving a three-year term as a member on the Planetary Science Subcommittee of the NASA Advisory Council’s Science Committee.

Prior to joining Goddard Space Flight Center in 2007, Dr. Glaze’s planetary science career has included a graduate student fellowship at the Lunar and Planetary Institute, five years with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA, two years as a Visiting Scientist at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center and over ten years as a Senior Scientist and Vice President for the private science firm Proxemy Research. She received Bachelors and Masters degrees in Physics from the University of Texas (Arlington), and a PhD in Environmental Science from Lancaster University (England).

About the Mission Deputy PI (James Garvin):

Dr. James B. Garvin is the Deputy Principal Investigator of the Deep Atmosphere Venus Investigation of Noble gases, Chemistry, and Imaging (DAVINCI) and NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center Chief Scientist. As a veteran Earth and planetary scientist within NASA in a career that has spanned more than 30 years, Dr. Garvin brings his experience with interdisciplinary science and instrumentation in helping to direct the scientific trajectory of the Center.

Prior to coming to Goddard, Dr. Garvin served as the NASA Chief Scientist, advising three separate Administrators on issues ranging from science strategies associated with the Vision for Space Exploration to those involved in rebalancing the NASA science portfolio. In addition, Dr. Garvin served as the chief scientist for Mars exploration from 2000 until 2004 and spearheaded the development of the scientific strategy that led NASA to select such missions as the Mars Exploration Rovers, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, the Phoenix polar lander, and the Mars Science Laboratory. Dr. Garvin's scientific expertise spans several elements of Earth and Planetary sciences. Of particular interest to his role as Deputy PI on DAVINCI, he has been a Co-Investigator on the Mars Observer, Mars Global Surveyor, NEAR-Shoemaker, Radarsat1&2, Mars Curiosity Rover, OSIRIS-REx, and ENVISAT missions. He has published over 80 peer-reviewed scientific articles and other popular articles about space exploration of Mars, Venus, and the Moon. Dr. Garvin earned his Ph.D in the Geological Sciences from Brown University in 1984. He also received an MS from Stanford University in Computer Sciences and a second MS from Brown in Planetary Geology. In 2005, he was awarded the prestigious William Rogers award recipient (Brown University) for his contributions to society as a graduate of Brown. 

Interview with PI (Lori Glaze):

What previous mission experience do you have?

In the 1990’s, I was a member of the Earth Observing System Volcanology Interdiscplinary Science Team. My role on that team was to provide an algorithm that satellite images to estimate the topography of ash clouds from explosive voclanic eruptions. Other than that, most of my mission experience has been in formulation.  Prior to leading the DAVNCI propsoal as the PI, I was a member of the Venus Flagship Science and Technology Definition Team where I led the development of the Science Traceability upon which the Venus Flagship Design Reference Mission was based. I also had key roles on two Venus mission concepts developed as part of the 2010 Planetary Decadal Survey and have been involved with multiple competitive instrument and mission concept teams. I was Project Scientist on a Mars Scout proposal in 2006 and a New Frontiers Venus mission proposal in 2009. I served as Deputy Principal Investigator on two Discovery mission proposals in 2010 (including a DAVINCI precursor concept). At the other end of the spectrum, I have more than two decades of experience in mission data analysis, both for Earth Science and planetary missions. I also have experience leading groups of scientists as the Vice President of Proxemy Research, Deputy Division Director and Goddard and as Chair of the Venus Exploration Analysis Group.

What has been your career steps to this point?  Had you always wanted to be mission scientist?

In many ways, my path to this point has been a random walk. I have always been passionate about my work, but never really had a specific  goal in mind. Probably the most important guiding principle for me has been to remain flexible and open to new opportunities. I started out as a terrestrial volcanologist, but early on became intrigued by the suggstion that the spikes in sulfur dioxide observed above the clouds on Venus could be the result of explosive volcanism. My first funded research proposal as a PI was to address that question through modeling. For most of my career, I was focused solely on research. But, in 2006 I had an opportunity to work with scientists at Goddard on a Mars Scout mission concept, and I was hooked!  Following that Mars concept, I began working on a string of several Venus mission concepts that ultimately became DAVINCI. I began as the Project Scientist on the first attempt, was the Deputy PI on the second attempt, and then finally took on the role of PI in the most recent proposal submission.

What are your next steps and main challenges moving forward?

The five missions that have been selected for Discovery Phase A studies are all excellent.  The science that they will accomplish is amazing. The main challenge for me now is to make the DAVINCI Step 2 proposal as good as it can possibly be. My goal is to convince the reviewers that our team is capable and that all of the instruments and other technologies required are mature and ready to go.  I feel fortuante to be surrounded by incredibly smart and creative engineers, and I look forward to working with them over the next year, tackling each new challenge with vigor and confidence.

What advice would you give to a new comer in the field looking to go into mission work?

Be persistant, hone your skills, and always keep your eyes open for new opportunities! You never know where each open door may take you.

What are your thoughts on the selection of two Venus missions for Phase A studies?

I think the selection of two Venus missions sends a powerful message that NASA is ready to rerturn to Venus after almost 30 years.  The Venus science community has been been advocating for a new mission for many years. The challenge is now in our court (Sue Smrekar, the VERITAS PI, and myself) to submit compelling mission concepts that can reliably be delivered within the Discovery Cost Cap.  My hope is that both missions, which are highly complementary, will be in the discussion for final selection a year from now!

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