With NASA slowly pulling away from the International Space Station, slowly moving toward the process of turning it over to Europe and Russia, they are beginning to move more toward moon and space science missions, much to the delight of the public. The future of space exploration is beginning to change, and change that is not only needed but welcomed by many.
Presently, the United States space agency is working on several new mission ideas, according to NASA. They have made a statement regard their first new mission on dark energy, “It is a mission on the mysterious form of energy in the cosmos, also an ambitious unmanned journey to the outer solar system.” This is just one of seven new science missions planned for the fiscal year of 2009, beginning on October 1 under President Bush’s new budget that just came out-a $17.6 billion dollar budget which accounts for $4.4 billion dollars for new science missions.
This next space science mission which is planned for a 2015 launching is sending an Earth-orbiting satellite to study a mysterious force, dark energy, thought to cause the universe to expand rapidly. According to scientists, they think that approximately 70% of the universe is made of dark energy, with little understanding of what makes it work at this time. Simultaneously, another 2015 mission involves a spacecraft launched to study the Solar Corona, sent to study the area around the sun where the solar wind comes from.
Another of these new missions is to send a spacecraft to Jupiter or Saturn, which are considered two of the biggest planets in our solar system. Planning by NASA is to orbit one of three moons of these giants. An estimated launching in 2017 could cost as little as a budgeted $2.1 billion dollars. Two of these three prospective moons orbit Jupiter-Europa, with its ice-covered ocean that may contain life; and Ganymede, considered to be the largest moon in our solar system. The third moon is Titan, belonging to Saturn, the second largest moon in our solar system. More will be known by the end of 2008, when the final moon will be chosen.
According to the NASA team, “In fact, we have more new starts in this budget for science than in the last three years combined,” Alan Stern, who leads NASA’s science missions, said in an interview. “This will be the first mission to ever dive down into the solar corona – much, much closer than Mercury orbits, and to places where the thermal emissions are just hellacious.” Future missions by NASA that are in the middle of planing are some newly designed robotics and their moon missions, along with Earth science missions.