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NASA announces finalists for next robotic mission to explore the Solar System

21 Dec 2017, 12:34 UTC
NASA announces finalists for next robotic mission to explore the Solar System
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One of these missions will become the fourth space exploration mission making up NASA’s New Frontier portfolio. Image credit: NASA
NASA has selected two finalist concepts, out of a potential twelve, to invest in as they continue to explore the Solar System. Whichever one is chosen will be the fourth mission in NASA’s New Frontier’s portfolio, which has its launch planned for mid-2020s.
These two missions are both robotic missions, and one aims to sample a comet and return those samples. The other is a drone-like rotorcraft concept, which will explore the surface of Saturn’s largest moon, Titan. These concepts were announced on Wednesday 20 December 2017, after a thorough peer review process.
“This is a giant leap forward in developing our next bold mission of science discovery,” says Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. “These are tantalizing investigations that seek to answer some of the biggest questions in our Solar System today.”
The finalists are:
Comet Astrobiology Exploration Sample Return (CAESAR)
The aim of this mission is to journey to the previously studied comet, 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, and return a sample back to Earth. Comet 67P has already had a robotic visitor in the form of ...

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