NASA Considers Multiple Proposals for Unmanned Solar System Exploration

NASA experts are currently in the process of reviewing 12 proposals for future unmanned solar system missions. They’ve all been submitted under the New Frontiers program and the aim is to select a mission that will happen in about two years time, with the launch date being sometime in the mid-2020’s.

“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, Associate Administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington.  “We’re looking forward to reviewing these exciting investigations and moving forward with our next bold mission pf discovery.”

Announcements will be made in November as to what concepts will be used for Phase A study. Those that are selected will follow an intensive peer review process and are limited to the following six themes:

– Comet Surface Sample Return

– Lunar South Pole-Aitken Basin Sample Return

– Ocean Worlds (Titan and/or Enceladus)

– Saturn Probe

– Trojan Tour and Rendezvous

– Venus in Situ Explorer

This will be the fourth mission that the New Frontier’s portfolio is responsible for. Previous missions include the New Horizons mission to Pluto, the Juno mission to Jupiter, and OSIRIS-REx, which has set out to retrieve a sample from the asteroid Bennu. Any investigation that’s headed under the New Frontiers Program must meet the objectives set out in the 2014 NASA Strategic Plan and the 2014 NASA Science Plan.

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