NASA offered recently $3 million to four teams willing to explore the challenging Solar System. Two of them chose Venus, while the others Jupiter’s volcanic moon, Io. The last destination would be Neptune’s moon, Triton. As Thomas Zurbuchen, from NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, explained, the most significant goal is to unlock the mysteries of those cosmic features and expand scientists’ understanding of how the solar system works.
The four teams are very significant because they’re finalists for NASA’s next phase of Discovery-class missions. These missions are also recognized as NASA’s “little” planetary science projects. They can cost approximately $450 million and are designed to complement NASA’s more important Solar System travel missions, such as New Frontiers missions.
However, only two teams will end up being fully financed. So, $3 million will be used for generating the mission plan and notions associated with their goals over nine months. Finally, each member will present NASA a research report and wait for the last decisions.
Upcoming NASA Projects and Goals
The four projects that were picked today are Veritas, DAVINCI+, IVO, and Trident. The first, Venus Emissivity, Radio, Science, InSAR, Topography, and Spectroscopy, or short VERITAS, has quite an intriguing plan. It centers on a complicated process of mapping Venus’s grounds.
It will also collect information about why and how the planet formed. DAVINCI+ (Deep Atmosphere Venus Investigation of Noble Gases, Chemistry, and Imaging Plus) will focus on Venus, too, but with a different goal. It would be set to find out how Venus’ atmosphere developed and if it ever had an ocean.
IVO (The Io Volcano Observer), on the other hand, would travel to Io, one of Jupiter’s moons, and the most volcanic cosmic feature in the Solar System. The mission could bring insights into Io’s intense volcanism. As for Trident, it would involve a journey to Triton, Neptune’s most intriguing moon. The task would include mapping Triton’s ground and searching for some clues to find out if the moon has an ocean.