Unmanned solar system mission to seek life on Saturn's moons up next on NASA's agenda?
The world of space is one which hold its secrets really close and getting to them is a difficult task. Scientists shouldering that responsibility should know.
NASA, a pioneer in the field of space and aeronautics, has time and again revealed the most amazing facets of the universe to the world.
Keeping space enthusiasts on their toes with all the latest updates regarding the goings on in space, NASA has once more raised anticipations by saying that the space agency is reviewing 12 proposals for future unmanned solar system mission to be launched in the mid-2020s.
Since NASA has always been open to the existence of life beyond our own world, the space agency also said that a new mission to Saturn's moons Titan or Enceladus to find signs of life beyond Earth cannot be ruled out.
The proposed missions of discovery – submitted under NASA's New Frontiers programme – will undergo scientific and technical review over the next seven months, the US space agency said in a statement on Friday.
Selection of one or more concepts for Phase A study will be announced in November. At the conclusion of Phase A concept studies, it is planned that one New Frontiers investigation will be selected to continue into subsequent mission phases.
Investigations for this announcement of opportunity were limited to six mission themes – comet surface sample return; lunar South Pole-Aitken basin sample return; ocean worlds (Titan and/or Enceladus); Saturn probe; Trojan tour and rendezvous; and Venus in situ explorer
"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 of discovery," Zurbuchen said.
The New Frontiers Programme conducts principal investigator (PI)-led space science investigations under a development cost cap of approximately $1 billion.
This would be the fourth mission in the New Frontiers portfolio. Its predecessors are the New Horizons mission to Pluto, the Juno mission to Jupiter, and OSIRIS-REx, which will rendezvous with and return a sample of asteroid Bennu.