MarCO or Mars Cube One is an experimental mission that is sending two tiny spacecraft along with InSight to Mars. If successful, they will relay real-time telemetry from InSight to Earth during the landing.
Three launches to the Moon and one each to Mercury and Mars; two arrivals at near-Earth asteroids; and an approach to an encounter with a distant Kuiper belt object are highlights we anticipate in 2018.
NASA has decided to move forward with the InSight mission after its delay last December, setting a new launch date of May 5, 2018. That will put the landing on Mars on November 26, 2018. In order to launch in two years, one of its two science instruments must be redesigned.
2015 has seen few deep-space-craft launches, but 2016 is shaping up to be a banner year with three launches, followed quickly by a fourth in early 2017. All of the missions under development have reported significant milestones recently.
In the last two months, there has been significant news about the European-Russian 2018 mission and about NASA’s 2020 rover. NASA also has announced that it would like to send a new orbiter to the Red Planet in the early 2020s.
Dawn has successfully entered orbit at Ceres, becoming the first mission to orbit a dwarf planet and the first to orbit two different bodies beyond Earth. I also have updates on Curiosity, Rosetta, Mars Express, Hayabusa2, the Chang'e program, InSIGHT, and OSIRIS-REx.
No mission to Europa, diminished funding for outer planets missions, a small bump to small spacecraft missions, and an increase for asteroid detection are part of the White House's proposal for NASA in 2014.
A new Mars mission was announced today, which is cause for celebration. But two other exciting missions where not selected, why? Money, or lack thereof. All we need is a little bit more, and we could be exploring the solar system, not just Mars.
NASA has selected JPL's InSight mission to Mars as its next Discovery mission. The first geophysics mission to Mars, InSight will use a Phoenix-like lander to deploy a seismometer and a heat probe and give us our first detailed insights into the interior of the Red Planet.