NASA Invests in Concept Development for Missions to Comet, Saturn Moon Titan

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NASA has comparison dual finalist concepts for a robotic goal designed to launch in a mid-2020s: a comet representation lapse goal and a drone-like rotorcraft that would try intensity alighting sites on Saturn’s largest moon, Titan.

The group announced a concepts Wednesday, following an endless and rival counterpart examination process. The concepts were comparison from 12 proposals submitted in Apr underneath a New Frontiers module proclamation of opportunity.

“This is a hulk jump brazen in building a successive confidant goal of scholarship discovery,” pronounced Thomas Zurbuchen, associate director for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. “These are delicious investigations that find to answer some of a biggest questions in a solar complement today.”

The CAESAR (Comet Astrobiology Exploration SAmple Return) goal will acquire a representation from a iota of comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko, returning it safely to Earth. Comets are done adult of materials from ancient stars, interstellar clouds, and a birth of a solar system. The CAESAR representation will exhibit how these materials contributed to a early Earth, including a origins of a Earth’s oceans, and of life.
Credits: NASA

The finalists are:

Comet Astrobiology Exploration Sample Return (CAESAR)

The CAESAR goal seeks to lapse a representation from 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, a comet that was successfully explored by a European Space Agency’s Rosetta spacecraft, to establish a start and history. Led by Steve Squyres of Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, CAESAR would be managed by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.


Dragonfly is a drone-like rotorcraft that would try a prebiotic chemistry and habitability of dozens of sites on Saturn’s moon Titan, an sea universe in a solar system. Elizabeth Turtle from a Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Maryland, is a lead investigator, with APL providing plan management.

The CAESAR and Dragonfly missions will accept appropriation by a finish of 2018 to serve rise and mature their concepts. NASA skeleton to name one of these investigations in a open of 2019 to continue on to successive goal phases.

The comparison goal will be a fourth in NASA’s New Frontiers portfolio, a array of principal investigator-led heavenly scholarship investigations that tumble underneath a growth cost top of approximately $850 million. Its predecessors are a New Horizons goal to Pluto and a Kuiper Belt intent famous as 2014 MU69, a Juno goal to Jupiter, and OSIRIS-REx, that will event with and lapse a representation of a asteroid Bennu.

NASA also announced a preference of dual goal concepts that will accept record growth supports to ready them for destiny goal competitions.

Dragonfly is a dual-quadcopter lander that would take advantage of a sourroundings on Titan to fly to mixed locations, some hundreds of miles apart, to representation materials and establish aspect combination to examine Titan’s organic chemistry and habitability, guard windy and aspect conditions, picture landforms to examine geological processes, and perform seismic studies.
Credits: NASA

The concepts comparison for record growth are:

Enceladus Life Signatures and Habitability (ELSAH)

The ELSAH goal judgment will accept supports to rise cost-effective techniques that extent booster decay and thereby capacitate life showing measurements on cost-capped missions. The principal questioner is Chris McKay of NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley, and a handling NASA core is Goddard.

Venus In situ Composition Investigations (VICI)

Led by Lori Glaze during Goddard, a VICI goal judgment will serve rise a Venus Element and Mineralogy Camera to work underneath a oppressive conditions on Venus. The instrument uses lasers on a lander to magnitude a mineralogy and component combination of rocks on a aspect of Venus.

The call for concepts was singular to 6 goal themes: comet aspect representation return, lunar south pole-Aitken Basin representation return, sea worlds (Titan and/or Enceladus), Saturn probe, Trojan asteroid debate and rendezvous, and Venus in situ explorer.

Source: NASA


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