The New Frontiers program of NASA has held a lottery that would determine how the agency would focus on future exploration missions. Drones have been sent out to an asteroid that has already been fully uncovered.

These missions fall under three groups: inexpensive missions, such as the Discovery endeavors worth $600- to $700-million; the Flagship missions that cost $2 billion and are launched every decade; and the New Frontiers that work as the middle ground.

NASA then accepts mission proposals made up of five themes: sample return of comet surface, lunar pole sample return, ocean worlds such as the moons of Saturn, tours around the Trojan asteroid, and situ explorer in Venus. Through a rigorous process, missions are cut down to two. They will then proceed to the first phase of development, and, finally, one would be selected for flight in July 2019 and then launch by 2025.

The two missions selected were the Dragonfly and the Comet Astrobiology Exploration Sample Return (CAESAR). Comets are not easily understood and CAESAR, led by Steve Squyres, intends to look at 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, which had been explored by European Space Agency’s Rosetta spacecraft. There is a little risk because there are maps already on the comet. The comets have volatile components such as a form of ice that is not present in other heavenly bodies. The mission would retrieve samples and is expected to return by 2038.

The Dragonfly would set sail to Titan, which is rich in complex hydrocarbons. There is also a frozen shell that holds water. The Dragonfly probe would collect samples to determine the possibility of Titan to become inhabitable. The moon has a combination of factors that are seemingly present for conditions to create and sustain life, which was thought to only be found on Earth.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.