NASA’s planetary science program depends on regular missions to solar system bodies to gather data. A combination of budget cuts and previous commitments to develop missions currently in the pipeline means that development of follow on missions may slow to a crawl. Van Kane looks at the current situation and NASA’s plans and then look at options the agency may consider if budgets remain tight into the next decade.
Ellen Stofan, NASA's Chief Scientist, and John Grunsfeld, the head of the Science Mission Directorate and a Hubble repair astronaut, highlighted recent NASA science discoveries at the American Geophysical Union conference in San Francisco.
The Advanced Stirling Radioisotope Program (ASRG) was just cancelled by NASA. This was to be the saving grace for Plutonium-238 availability, as it was a much more efficient way to generate electricity than classic RTG systems.
The European Space Agency has selected two astrophysics observatories as its next large science missions, overlooking every proposed planetary mission. ESA's current selection of planetary missions, however, means it will still be a major player in solar system exploration for the next two decades.
An update from University of Strathclyde researchers about the Planetary Society sponsored laboratory Laser Bees asteroid deflection project including a new laser and other lab equipment, and the start of new related projects.
The European Space Agency invited me to join Mars Express project scientist Olivier Witasse, and spacecraft oeprations manager Michel Denis for a Hangout on Europe's recent and future exploration of Mars and Phobos.
The Advanced Stirling Radioisotope Generator (ASRG) is no longer an option for powering a potential Europa mission. The ASRG uses Plutonium-238 to generate electricity, but is far more efficient than past RTGs.