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NASA Is Picking Finalists for a Space Mission. Here Are Its Options.


Proposal for the moon

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The blue area is the South Pole-Aitken basin on the Earth’s moon, the scar of a cataclysmic impression greater than four billion years in the past.

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NASA/Goddard Area Flight Middle

The South Pole-Aitken Basin on the moon has lengthy been on the want listing of locations for planetary scientists. The basin, 1,600 miles vast and eight miles deep, is the scar of a cataclysmic impression greater than four billion years in the past, deep sufficient that elements of the moon’s mantle might have been uncovered.

Subsequently a spacecraft going there would be capable of decide up bits from the within of a rocky world not simply discovered elsewhere within the photo voltaic system. The proposed MoonRise mission would even deliver some dust and rocks again to Earth for scientists to look at straight.

Proposals to chase comets

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A crew at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory proposes going to Comet 67P, the comet visited by the European Area Company’s Rosetta spacecraft. The brand new mission would deliver samples of the comet again to Earth for scientists to review.

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ESA/Rosetta, by way of MPS for OSIRIS Crew

The European Area Company’s Rosetta mission spent a few years flying round Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, even placing a small lander down on the floor.

Comet Nucleus Mud and Organics Return, or Condor, proposed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, would return to Comet 67P, scoop up samples and convey them to Earth for nearer research.

The Comet Rendezvous, Pattern Acquisition, Investigation, and Return, or Corsair, a collaboration between NASA Ames Analysis Middle and the Johns Hopkins College Utilized Physics Laboratory, is just like Condor besides it might deliver again samples from a unique comet: 88P/Howell.

Van Kane, a blogger following planetary science missions, reported in October that there’s a third proposal for a cometary pattern return, named Caesar, led by Steven W. Squyres of Cornell College, the principal investigator for the Alternative rover on Mars. However nothing else is thought, not even what Caesar stands for.

Proposals for Saturn

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Ice plumes rising from the south pole of Enceladus, a moon of Saturn. A subsurface ocean on Enceladus is a promising place to search for life.

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NASA/JPL-Caltech

To construct upon the success and legacy of the Cassini mission to Saturn, which ended this yr, 5 missions have been proposed to return to the ringed planet or its moons.

The Saturn Probe Inside and Ambiance Explorer, or Sprite, would do basically what the Cassini spacecraft did in September — drop into Saturn — besides Sprite would go a lot deeper. Measuring the ratio of helium to hydrogen would clarify the place Saturn shaped, an essential piece of data for understanding how the photo voltaic system got here collectively.

Enceladus, a tiny moon of Saturn, shoots a plume of ice from its south pole, emanating from a subsurface ocean. The Enceladus Life Finder, or Elf, led by Jonathan I. Lunine of Cornell College, would fly by means of the plumes with devices that would determine carbon-based molecules and different components to discern if the oceans possess situations amenable for all times.

Another proposal to visit the icy satellite, led by Christopher P. McKay, an astrobiologist at NASA Ames Research Center, is called Enceladus Life Signatures and Habitability, or Elsah, but no details are known.

Two missions have also been proposed to study Titan, which is Saturn’s biggest moon and has seas of hydrocarbons.

Oceanus, led by Christophe Sotin, the chief scientist for solar system exploration at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, would study Titan from orbit.

Dragonfly, proposed by the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, is perhaps the most unusual spacecraft concept. It would essentially send a self-flying helicopter to explore Titan, hopping from one intriguing spot to another.

Dragonfly: A Proposal to Explore Titan, Saturn’s Largest Moon, via Quadcopter Video by JHU Applied Physics Laboratory

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