NASA has announced that it chose five potential locations for the next Discovery mission, including Venus and nearby asteroids.
NASA has some interesting missions coming up in the near future. In addition to its ongoing research of Mars and the outer solar system, the agency is set to choose one or two missions that will be launched before 2020. According to a report from Space Daily, the agency has narrowed down the potential research opportunities to five, including missions to Venus and the asteroid belt.
Each of the five investigation teams has received a grant of $3 million to carry out concept designs, feasibility studies, and predictions of what they expect to find. NASA is scheduled to make their final decision on the upcoming mission sometime before September of next year.
The cost of the missions in consideration would be around $500 million, which does not account for the cost of the launch vehicle or operations once the mission has been initiated.
According to John Grunsfeld, an astronaut and associate administrator at NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington, “The selected investigations have the potential to reveal much about the formation of our solar system and its dynamic processes.”
Grunsfeld is excited about the steps NASA is taking, and cites an increased interest in space exploration on the public’s part as contributing to the recent activity.
One of the potential studies would examine the topography and surface composition of Venus. The second would study the origin of planetary cores by probing the center of the asteroid Psyche. A third would launch a camera that is able to track near-earth objects with ten times the resolution that is currently available.
A fourth project would examine the gaseous atmosphere of Venus, hoping to determine whether or not there is active volcanism on the planet. The last potential study, Lucy, would scope out the Jupiter Trojan asteroids in the hopes of revealing secrets about the formation of the early solar system.