NASA's next science missions will head for Venus, Io, or Triton

Katie Ramirez
February 16, 2020

While two of the projects NASA designated as candidates were studies on the surface and atmosphere of Venus, two projects that will work on Jupiter's volcanic satellite Io and Neptune's active glacial satellite Triton were also considered as alternatives.

"These selected missions have the potential to transform our understanding of some of the solar system's most active and complex worlds", Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA's Science Mission Directorate, said in a press release.

"Exploring any one of these celestial bodies will help unlock the secrets of how they, and other bodies like them became a part of the cosmos", he added. NASA chose the following four missions, as reported by the online publication mentioned above. Discovery-class missions are considered NASA's "small" planetary science missions.

Of the four teams selected today, no more than two will actually be fully funded. NASA will provide a $ 3 million budget to each team for this completion mission. In the conclusion, each will show NASA using a research report and wait to find out which of them really makes the trim.

The Venus Emissivity, Radio Science, InSTAR, Topography, and Spectroscopy (VERITAS) mission would also visit Venus, but with a different goal in mind. Rather than focusing on earth itself, it might concentrate on the gases surrounding Earth. One highlight of the potential mission would be sending a probe deep into Venus' atmosphere. It would analyze the atmosphere of Venus and attempt to determine if the planet had an ocean in the past. Io Volcano Observer (IVO) would play out a progression of close flybys of Io, the deepest of Jupiter's four enormous moons and the most volcanically dynamic body in the nearby planetary group, to screen that volcanic movement.

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Trident's main focus is to map Triton's surface, scanning for a sub-surface ocean (under the surface).

The InSight Mars lander was also the product of a project from the Discovery Program, along with the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbitor. The track records of the projects have been mixed. While the LRO was in orbit round the Moon because 2009, also proceeds to collect valuable information, the InSight lander ran into trouble previous year when a burrowing heating probe suddenly popped back up from the Martian surface.

Two other Discovery-class missions were selected in 2017 and will launch in the next few years. Each of the chosen missions at that time, Lucy and Psyche, have been devoted to the examination of asteroids.

In the Trident mission, a discovery will be made in Neptune's icy moon Triton to understand habitable planets far away from the Sun.

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