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NASA'S UPCOMING MISSIONS: Explore Time and Space, Search for Life on Other Moons, Interplanetary Nano-Spacecraft and Many More. Here's What's Coming in the Next Decade

NASA’s upcoming 10-year plan extended millions of miles with billion of dollar. NASA’s future continuously increases as like the universe. As the agency announced that it’s preparing to send astronauts back to the Moon again and ultimately build a base there, with a Mars-bound mission to follow in the years subsequently. In June 2019, NASA first introduced a nuclear-powered based spacecraft mission to Titan, an icy Moon of Saturn's, to search for alien life. NASA also wants to investigate life in other places too, like the ocean under the icy surface of Jupiter's Moon Europa. Beyond that, some upcoming missions of NASA might be explored dark matter and related dark energy and the cosmic history of our universe. So, here are some of NASA's biggest and most ambitious plans for the upcoming decade.

(1) A NEW MARS ROVER WILL JOIN CLOSE BY NEXT YEAR Planned Launch: July 2020 - Expected Arrival: February 2021

NASA is now working on the vehicle in its Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. The Mars 2020 rover will search for symbols of ancient microbial alien life on the red planet, collect and store rock and soil samples, and test out technology that could cover the way for humans to walk one day over the surface of Mars. The cost of the mission is expected to 2.1 Billion USD and anybody can tune in to NASA's live broadcast of the Mars 2020 rover's construction anytime to watch.

Members of NASA's Mars 2020 project after attaching the rover's mast. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)
NASA's Mars 2020 project, work in progress to build the rover. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

(2) MISSION TO MARS: Martian rock samples that Mars 2020 rover collects back to Earth Planned launch: Unknown - Expected arrival: Unknown

Until NASA sends another robotic device to Mars that could launch the accumulated samples to Earth, the Mars 2020 rover will store the samples in its belly and search for a place on Mars where it can stash them for pickup.

Proposed Mars Sample Return mission launching samples towards Earth. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

(3) HUMANS TO THE MOON AGAIN BY 2024 AND BUILT A LUNAR BASE THERE Planned launch: Unknown - Anticipated arrival: 2024

NASA wants to send humans to the Moon again by 2024. Since the Apollo program ended over 45 years ago, those would be the first humans on the Moon surface. This time, however, NASA wants to build a Moon-orbiting space station with a reusable lunar-landing system. NASA believes that the lunar base could help to operate scientific research of the Moon more deeply. This investigation may be found the potential mine resources of Moon that could be transformed into fuel for further space travel.

NASA has been discussing concepts for human lunar exploration since the Apollo flights ended. In this 1995 artist’s concept, a lunar mining operation harvests oxygen from the lunar soil in Mare Serenatatis, a few kilometers from the Apollo 17 landing site (NASA/Jack Schmitt).

(4) NASA plans to investigate our Solar System's asteroid belt surrounding Jupiter Planned launch: October 2021 - Expected arrival: 2027

A mysterious cloud of Trojan asteroids – the term for space rocks that follow planets – trail Jupiter's orbit around the Sun. NASA's upcoming mission plans to visit six of them. Jim Green, the leader of NASA's planetary science project, said that "We know very little about these objects". "They may be captured asteroids, comets, or even Kuiper Belt objects." The idea is that to understand the solar system more precisely as we know that the asteroids are as old as the Sun, so they can provide us a kind of fossil record of the solar system.

NASA plans to investigate our Solar System's asteroid belt surrounding Jupiter (credit: astronomy)

(5) Mission to find alien life in the saltwater ocean on Jupiter's Moon Europa Planned launch: 2020s - Expected arrival: Unknown

When Galileo Galilei first observed at Jupiter through his homemade telescope in 1610, he spotted four Moons rotating the planet. Almost 400 years later, NASA's Galileo mission found evidence that one of those Moons, named Europa, covers a massive ocean of liquid water beneath its frozen crust.

NASA is planning to visit that ocean with the Europa Clipper, a spacecraft that will fly by the Moon 45 times, getting as close at 16 miles above the Moon's surface. Clipper will fly through water vapour plumes that discharge from Europa's surface to evaluate the compositions or elements present in the ocean. Radar equipment will also quantify the thickness of the ice and scan for subsurface water.

NASA's Lucy mission visiting asteroids near Jupiter. (Southwest Research Institute)

(6) Mission to land a robotic probe on Europa's surface and punch through the ice - Expected launch and arrival: Unknown

NASA also plans to land a robotic lander on Europa’s ocean that would search for symbols of life, digging 4 inches beneath the surface to extract samples for analysis in a mini, on-the-go laboratory.

Potential future mission to land a robotic probe on Europa. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

(7) Mission to scan the universe for life-hosting planets and attempt to look back in time to understand the Big Bang Planned launch and arrival: 2021

It's been almost 30 years since the Hubble Space Telescope launched. Now, NASA planned to replace it by the James Webb Space Telescope which is packs with new infrared technology to detect light beyond what the human eye can see. The purpose of this telescope is to study every phase of the history of the evolution of the universe in order to learn about how the first stars and galaxies formed, how planets are born, and where there might be life in the universe.

The expanding universe. (NASA)

A 21-foot-wide folding beryllium mirror in the telescope will help to observe faraway galaxies in detail. To protect from the Sun's heat and to block the sunlight, a five-layer, tennis court-size shield is added in the telescope that could reduce the interference to take the images. The James Webb Space Telescope will be able to capture extremely weak signals. It looks out beyond into space, the more it will look back in time, so the telescope could even detect the first radiances of the Big Bang. The telescope will also observe distant, young galaxies in detail we have never seen before.

(8) THE WIDE FIELD INFRARED SURVEY TELESCOPE (WFIRST) Planned launch and arrival: mid -2020s

WFIRST's field of view will be 100 times greater than the Hubble Space Telescope. That is expected to discover thousands of new planets and test theories of general relativity and dark energy. Over its five-year lifetime, the space telescope will measure light from a billion galaxies and survey the inner Milky Way with the hope of finding of 2,600 exoplanets.

(9) NASA also has 176 missions in the works that use CubeSats: 4-by-4-inch cube-shaped nanotechnology satellites Expected launch: November 2020

NASA is partnering with 93 organizations across the United States on these CubeSat projects. Such satellites have already been built and sent to space by an elementary school, a high school, and the Salish Kootenai College of the Flathead Reservation in Montana. The first CubeSats sent to deep space followed behind the InSight Mars lander last year. They successfully sent data from the InSight lander back to Earth as it landed on the Martian surface. Nanotechnology-based a planned mission will use lasers to search for ice on the Moon's indistinct south pole.

Another CubeSat mission, also set to launch in 2020, will fly past an asteroid near Earth and send back data. It will be the first investigation of an asteroid less than 100 meters in diameter. That data will help scientists to prepare future human missions to asteroids, where astronauts might extract resources as they explore deep space.

Three CubeSats ejected from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's Kibo laboratory. (NASA)


Dark matter covers almost 85 percent of the universe, but nobody is sure what it is. Part of the problem is that we can't see it because it doesn't interact with light. The gravity of these dark matters holds the entire universe together, whereas an unknown force called dark energy pushes everything apart. Dark energy is winning, and that's why the universe is expanding.

As the European Space Agency's Euclid telescope orbits Earth, the space telescope will evaluate the expansion of the universe and attempt to map the mysterious geometry of dark matter and energy. NASA is working with the ESA on imaging and infrared equipment for the telescope.


Most of the asteroids in our Solar System are made of rock or ice, but Psyche is composed of iron and nickel. That's similar to the form of Earth's core, so scientists imagine Psyche could be a residue of an early planet that was destroyed billions of years ago by violent collisions.

NASA is sending a probe to find out the reality. Linda Elkins-Tanton, who's leading the mission, said in a press release that "this is an opportunity to explore a new type of world – not one of rock or ice, but of metal," and "This is the only way humans will ever visit a core." If Psyche really is the exposed core of a dead planet, it could reveal clues about the Solar System's early years.

The ultra-dense asteroid Psyche is thought to be made almost entirely of iron and nickel metal. It could be the remnant core of a planetesimal that was stripped of its mantle (artist's impression). (CORBYWASTE/JPL)

This mission to Psyche would be the first spacecraft to use light, rather than radio waves, to transmit information back to Earth. The agency gave the team the green signal to start the final design and early assembly process in June.


Titan, Saturn's largest moon, is a world with ice, liquid methane pools, and a thick nitrogen atmosphere. It somewhat resembles early Earth, since it has carbon-rich organic materials like methane and ethane. Thus, scientists believe that an ocean of liquid water might be present 60 miles beneath the ice surface. All these conditions make Titan a potential planet for alien life.

But reaching that distant and cold Moon is not easy – Saturn only gets about 1 percent of the sunlight that bathes Earth. Therefore, a spacecraft can't depend totally on solar energy. Instead, Dragonfly will drive itself using the heat of decaying plutonium.

Dragonfly visiting sampling location on Titan. (NASA)

(13) FROM THE LUNAR SURFACE, ASTRONAUTS MAY SPRINGBOARD TO MARS - Planned launch: 2030s - Probable arrival: 2030s

The next Moon mission will test deep-space exploration systems that NASA anticipates will transmit humans on to Mars. Astronauts traveling to Mars would have to spend about three years away from Earth. In order to explore the red planet, human travelers would have to be able to use the materials available on the lunar and Martian surfaces.

NASA is already designing future astronauts' device. They're sending spacesuit material on the Mars 2020 rover to test how it holds up in the planet's harsh atmosphere. A deep-space habitat competition this year yielded a 3D-printable pod that could be constructed using materials found on Mars.

Concept illustration of Martian habitats. (JPL/NASA)


NoteThis article was originally published by Business Insider. 

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