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NASA To Announce Finalists For Space Mission Today: Who Are The Contenders?

NASA To Announce Finalists For Space Mission Today: Who Are The Contenders?

The projects that would become finalists during today's announcement needed to tackle one of six of those themes, which include retrieving a piece of a comet or of the moon's south pole, visiting Saturn or at least one of its most interesting moons, Titan and Enceladus, touring a special class of asteroids called Trojans that linger at special points in a planet's orbit, or exploring Venus. That, Squyres says, would be "really just the beginning of the mission", as scientists would spend decades analyzing what would be the first ever returned from a comet's surface. Plus, unlike many other NASA space science missions that are conceived, developed, built and operated in-house, a New Frontiers concept can come from "principal investigators" outside the agency, offering a chance for more innovation to come with it. Previous New Frontiers missions include the New Horizons mission to Pluto, the Juno spacecraft now orbiting Jupiter, and the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft now en route to sample an asteroid.

NASA's newest mission will either land a quadcopter-like spacecraft on the surface of Saturn's moon Titan or collect a sample from the nucleus of a comet. CAESAR would launch in 2025.

According to a NASA release, the conference to announce the nominees will be attended by Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington; Jim Green, director of the Planetary Science Division at NASA Headquarters in Washington;Curt Niebur, New Frontiers program scientist at at NASA Headquarters and the contestants themselves. The mission would grab a sample from the nucleus of Churyumov-Gerasimenko, with the hope of learning about how those materials contributed to the early Earth, including the origins of our oceans and life.

"The sample will arrive back on earth on the 20th of November, 2038, so mark your calendars", he said. Dragonfly would study various locations on Titan's surface for a number of years and attempt to determine whether or not the large moon is habitable. "By being a rotorcraft, we're able to fly to multiple sites tens to hundreds of kilometers apart to make these measurements in different geological settings". These series of space exploration missions being conducted by NASA aims at researching several of the Solar System bodies, including the dwarf planet Pluto. "Water-based life or hydrocarbon life".

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Two other missions-to Venus and Saturn's moon Enceladus-were also selected for further technology development. First, the program has a strict cap on the amount of money a project can cost-$700 million.

Workers tinker with the Solar Wind Around Pluto instrument on NASA's New Horizons spacecraft. After choosing the New Horizon plan, NASA had just four years and two months to build and launch it before Jupiter passed out of alignment.

The space agency announced three finalists for the last New Frontier program. The air on Titan is four times as dense as it is on Earth, and gravity is one-seventh as strong, both of which make flying very practical on this otherwise alien world.

The comet and Titan mission concepts were chosen by NASA out of a pool of 12 proposals. Out of the 12 submitted New Frontiers proposals, almost half targeted Saturn or its moons, hoping to capitalize on the afterglow of the Cassini mission, which ended in a fiery plunge into Saturn's atmosphere in September after a wildly successful 13 years around the ringed planet.


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