NASA recently unveiled five space exploration missions expected to be launched by the end of 2021 under the Discovery program. The program was first launched in 1992 with the direct aim of exploring space, but at a lower cost. Dawn and Kepler missions are also part of the space program.
According to NASA the next missions in line are two projects to explore planet Venus and three more to take a closer look at asteroids.
“The selected investigations have the potential to reveal much about the formation of our solar system and its dynamic processes,”
said John Grunsfeld, a former astronaut who now works with NASA on various projects in Washington.
Grunsfeld also said that the future missions may inspire future generations of space explorers, and may lead to incredible discoveries that may finally unravel the mysteries of our solar system.
Each of the five missions will receive a $3 million worth of grant from NASA to conduct new studies and prove that the mission is viable. Of the five proposals only one or two will get the space agency’s approval in September 2016. The mission or missions selected will be launched by the end of 2020 or 2021, NASA announced.
The selected missions, however, are expected to cost around 500 million, and it will require an extra for launch and post-launch operations.
The five finalists are VERITAS and DAVINCI for Venus, and Lucy, NEOCAM and Psyche for asteroids.
VERITAS is a mission designed to place an orbiter on Venus’ low orbit. The mission would be managed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and led by Suzanne Smrekar. VERITAS orbiter’s main goal is to take extremely accurate photos of the planet’s surface and help scientists to produce updated maps of Venus and its surface composition.
DAVINCI is another mission that plans to reach Venus. DAVINCI is a probe that would gather precious data on the celestial body’s thick atmosphere during a hour-long descent. Scientists want to learn whether Venus is geologically active, and how the planet’s atmosphere influences its surface and geology. The mission would be managed by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center and led by Lori Glaze.
Lucy mission is designed to study Trojan asteroids caught into Jupiter’s orbit. Scientists hope that the rocks could help them learn more about our solar system’s early days. The mission would be managed by Goddard and led by Harold Levison.
Psyche mission will study a strange metallic asteroid located in the asteroid belt. Scientists believe that the asteroid is the core of an ancient planet that was destroyed during a collision. The mission would be managed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and led by Linda Elkins-Tanton.
NEOcam mission aims at placing a space telescope on Earth’s low orbit to hunt for potentially hazardous space objects (NEO stands for Near Earth Object). The mission would be managed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and led by Amy Mainzer.
Image Source: Wikipedia
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