Someone sent me an e-mail (and posted on the Facebook page) at how they were wondering what’s coming up next for NASA. So, from my research, here’s a timeline for the next ~30 years on what NASA and other agencies are working on.
Some of these have already launched are are headed towards their primary mission objective(s). I will describe each of these missions briefly after the list. All are robotic unless specified.
- LADEE – September 2013
- MAVEN – Late 2013
- Magnetospheric Multiscale Mssion (2014)
- New Horizons – July 2015
- Juno – Late 2016
- InSight – Late 2016
- TESS – Sometime in 2017
- Solar Probe Plus – Sometime in 2018
- James Webb Telescope – Sometime late 2018
- OSIRIS-Rex – Sometime late 2018
- Mars Rover – Sometime in 2020
- Manned Mission to an Asteroid – Planned for 2025 (Funding already cancelled)
- Manned Mission to Mars – Planned for 2030 (Funding possibly cancelled, might be privatized)
LADEE is a 160 day lunar missions planned to gather information on the upper atmosphere, to hopefully help scientists understand planet and moon formation better. LADEE is an acronym for Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer.
MAVEN is similar to LADEE, except it’s going to be exploring the different areas of the upper atmosphere of Mars. MAVEN is an acronym for Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution Mission.
MMS is a four part mission, with four separate yet identical spacecraft studying the way Earth and the Sun play together, specifically the magnetosphere and how they connect and disconnect.
New Horizons is a probe that Neil deGrasse Tyson hates, because it’s studying the planet he has an affinity for. Pluto exploration probe is going to fly by and take photos of this former-planet’s moons and the planet itself, and send them back to us.
Juno is Jupiter’s new best friend, trying to find out everything it can about this once thought to be failed star. I guess we’ll find out what happened..
InSight is Bruce Willis’ favourite Mars mission, as it’s going to drill into Mars and see what’s going on under the redish/greyish surface.
TESS is a telescope out hunting for planets orbiting other star systems in the neighbourhood. It’s not focused for “goldilocks zone” planets, but just planets in general (either gas giants or terrestrial planets). TESS is an acronym for Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite.
SPP is the first of it’s kind to go (try to) hug the Sun. Designed to suicidally get as much information as possible and send it back to a relay of systems and other planetary satellites, all while crashing into the surface (or as close as it can get).
James Webb Telescope – Hubble 2.0. Trying to connect the Big bang with our own Galaxy and everything in between. This is rumoured to be scrapped, however no official press statement has been made.
OSIRIS-Rex – No, they didn’t add “Rex” to the end or shape it like a dinosaur; the Origins Spectral Interpretation Resource Identification Security Regolith Explorer (whew!) is designed to go steal some stuff from a nearby Asteroid AND bring it back to us!
Mars Rover – Curiosity 2.0, only hopefully with WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0. This guy is also the first part of the Manned Mission to Mars. See below.
Manned Mission to an Asteroid – Once we get the gooey details from OSIRIS-Rex, we’re going to try to send some crazy folk over to either the same or a near by asteroid to see for ourselves what that silly probe brought back.
Manned Mission to Mars – Let’s go Space-X, step your game up Musk! Get human boots on Mars because the Rover we launched 10 years ago has samples collected for us to analyse and bring back to Earth. The mission of firsts, first boots on a different planet, first samples from a different planet brought back, first solar system planet visited, farthest human exploration.. the list goes on..