NASA Receives Proposals For Next Solar System Mission

Posted: May 7 2017, 6:46am CDT | by , in News | Latest Science News

 
What’s Next for NASA? The Space Agency Receives Proposals for Future Solar System Missions
Credit: NASA

NASA is reviewing 12 proposals for its New Frontiers Program

Is it going to be Saturn’s moon Enceladus or Jupiter’s volcano moon Lo or asteroids orbiting around the sun? The proposals are in for future unmanned mission to explore the solar system.

NASA’s solar system exploration missions collectively come under New Frontiers Program and the program is designed to answer fundamental questions about our origin and the Earth’s place in universe. NASA has begun a thorough review to decide the new destination for the program in the next seven months, while the mission is expected to launch within two years, somewhere in the mid 2020s.

“New Frontiers is about answering the biggest questions in our solar system today, building on previous missions to continue to push the frontiers of exploration,” said Thomas Zurbuchen from NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. “We’re looking forward to reviewing these exciting investigations and moving forward with our next bold mission of discovery.”

New Frontier’s bids are limited to six mission themes: Comet Surface Sample Return, Lunar South Pole-Aitken Basin Sample Return, Saturn Probe, Trojan Tour and Rendezvous, Venus In-Situ Explorer and the latest entry Ocean Worlds (Titan and or Enceladus). The selection of one or more concepts will be announced later in November.

Any selected mission will cost around $1 billion and it would be the fourth in the New Frontiers portfolio, following up on New Horizons mission to Pluto, Juno mission to Jupiter and OSIRIS-REx – a mission launched in 2016. The spacecraft will reach a near-Earth asteroid called Bennu in 2018 and return a sample to Earth in 2023. The new mission, however, aims to accomplish several high-priority planetary science goals, including finding the signs of life beyond Earth.

NASA’s New Frontiers Program was created in 2002 at the recommendation of the National Research Council’s decadal survey for solar system research and is an important step towards meeting future challenges in space exploration.

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