Artist’s concept of the Solar System. (NASA)
On Friday, NASA announced it has selected four Discovery Program investigations to develop concept studies for possible new missions. Two proposals are for trips to Venus, and one each is for Jupiter’s moon Io and Neptune’s moon Triton. After the concept studies are completed in nine months, some missions ultimately may not be chosen to move forward. Final selections will be made next year.
DAVINCI+: Deep Atmosphere Venus Investigation of Noble gases, Chemistry, and Imaging Plus. This will analyse Venus’s atmosphere to understand how it was formed and evolved, and if it ever had an ocean. This will advance understanding of the formation of terrestrial planets.
IVO: Io Volcano Observer is a proposal to explore Jupiter’s moon Io, which is extremely volcanically active. This will try to find out how tidal forces shape planetary bodies. The findings could further knowledge about the formation and evolution of rocky, terrestrial bodies and icy ocean worlds in the Solar System.
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TRIDENT: This aims to explore Neptune’s icy moon, Triton, so that scientists can understand the development of habitable worlds in the Solar System.
VERITAS: Venus Emissivity, Radio Science, InSAR, Topography, and Spectroscopy will aim to map Venus’s surface to find out why Venus developed so differently from Earth.