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NASA Selects Four Possible Missions to Study the Secrets of the Solar System

Flyaway

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NASA has selected four Discovery Program investigations to develop concept studies for new missions. Although they’re not official missions yet and some ultimately may not be chosen to move forward, the selections focus on compelling targets and science that are not covered by NASA’s active missions or recent selections. Final selections will be made next year.

NASA’s Discovery Program invites scientists and engineers to assemble a team to design exciting planetary science missions that deepen what we know about the solar system and our place in it. These missions will provide frequent flight opportunities for focused planetary science investigations. The goal of the program is to address pressing questions in planetary science and increase our understanding of our solar system.

 

Deltafan

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I hope they will favor Io. Triton in second place and the two missions on Venus in third ...
 

jeffb

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I hope they will favor Io. Triton in second place and the two missions on Venus in third ...
Poor old Venus no one it seems is ever keen on missions there.

Except for the Russians of course. And I think I read somewhere recently that they're planning a new set of Venus missions in the next decade.
 

Flyaway

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I hope they will favor Io. Triton in second place and the two missions on Venus in third ...
Poor old Venus no one it seems is ever keen on missions there.

Except for the Russians of course. And I think I read somewhere recently that they're planning a new set of Venus missions in the next decade.
I think there might be one mission which is co-operative one with ESA. But don’t quote me on that.
 

Deltafan

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I hope they will favor Io. Triton in second place and the two missions on Venus in third ...
Poor old Venus no one it seems is ever keen on missions there.

My opinion is very selfish : I hope that we will find a trace of extraterrestrial life in my lifetime.
And I think there is more luck on Io or Triton than on Venus ...
 

blackstar

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My opinion is very selfish : I hope that we will find a trace of extraterrestrial life in my lifetime.
And I think there is more luck on Io or Triton than on Venus ...

You might want to take a second look at Io.
 

edwest

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The secrets of how planets form and surface features? How about let's send a crew of four to Mars? Oh, I forgot. It's impossible. Just send landers.
 

Hobbes

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That's not what this mission class (Discovery) is for. NASA runs multiple programs in parallel, you know.
 

Flyaway

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New article about the Trident mission to flyby Neptune’s moon Triton.

 

FighterJock

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Flyaway

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The MMRTG will power NASA’s Dragonfly mission to explore Saturn’s moon Titan, and is being considered for the Trident mission to explore Neptune’s largest moon Triton, which is believed to have a liquid ocean.

 

blackstar

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But will they be allowed to proceed though?

If you are referring to the four possible missions that are the subject of this thread, NASA intends to fund at least one of them, and hopefully two. Their ability to fund two will be based upon the overall lifecycle costs of the missions as well as their scheduling. For instance, if two of the missions have to launch around the same time, NASA will not have the budget set aside to pay for both. However, if one mission can be launched a few years after another one, it may be possible to fit both of the missions into the budget, because one mission will be ramping down its budget as another one is ramping up.

My suspicion is that they will only be able to fund one of them, because the lifecycle costs of some recent missions have been pretty high, for complicated reasons.
 

Grey Havoc

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The new administration is not very Space friendly though.
 

blackstar

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The new administration is not very Space friendly though.

<Sigh>
You don't know that. And since they haven't been in power a full month yet, maybe it's a bit premature to jump into conclusions?

These four mission proposals are for the Discovery program. Discovery is funded as a mission line, meaning there is money in the budget for it, but the top line amount is subject to change. One of the problems in recent years is that the most recent Discovery missions, Lucy and Psyche, which will launch in the next few years, have total life cycle costs that are significantly higher than previous missions. There are a bunch of reasons for that but I don't understand all of them (and I do space policy for a living). Because of that, the current head of NASA's Planetary Science Division has cautioned that the agency may not have enough money for two missions, although she would like to fund two missions.

As to the future of the planetary program, it is likely to take some cuts as the current administration shifts money over to Earth science programs. There is a perception--just as there was back in 2010--that planetary has received a lot of funding and Earth science has been underfunded. So you could expect the money to shift in that direction. But we'll just have to see what happens.
 

Grey Havoc

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You don't know that. And since they haven't been in power a full month yet, maybe it's a bit premature to jump into conclusions?
Biden's record on space is... poor at best. And Kamala Harris has been openly hostile in the past to aerospace programs and their supporters. (All of which lends a fair bit of irony to the fact the Machinists & Aerospace Workers Union* were among those who supported the Biden-Harris ticket.) The Democrats' professed support during the election for continuation of the Artemis program increasingly seems to have been little more than tactical 'empty words'. And in addition, with the exception of a few potential bright spots, the new administration in general is made up of people who at best see space exploration, asteroid mining, colonisation, etc. as totally unnecessary. Well, you can then begin to see why I am not very optimistic about the prospects for the next few years.


*More formally known as the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers.
 
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JacopCooper

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I want NASA to prioritise VERITAS mission, but I in no way want to underestimate the importance of other missions. I hope NASA will manage to find qualified and gifted scientists to realize these missions. There were people in this thread who stated that mission to Mars is our priority; I agree, but let's not forget that other space missions and investigations can accelerate the process of Mars exploration.
 
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