Everyday, thousands of scientific papers are published. We are making a great advancement in every field of science and engineering. This has a direct impact on the technology and the upcoming NASA missions really show that. Here are top 5 most awaited missions that carry a great technical rigour and even greater purpose.
1. Orbiting Carbon Observatory 3 (OCO-3)
Launch Date: March 16, 2019
The Orbiting Carbon Observatory 3, or OCO-3, is a future space instrument designed to investigate important questions about the distribution of carbon dioxide on Earth as it relates to growing urban populations and changing patterns of fossil fuel combustion.
NASA has developed and assembled the instrument using spare materials from the successful development and launch of the Orbiting Carbon Observatory 2 in 2014 and will host the instrument on the Japanese Experiment Module- Exposed Facility (JEM-EF) onboard the International Space Station. OCO-2 has demonstrated that atmospheric XCO2 can be measured from space with precision of better than 1 ppm. OCO-3 is expected to have similar performance.
2. Mars 2020
Launch Date: Summer 2020
The Mars 2020 rover will investigate a region of Mars where the ancient environment may have been favorable for microbial life, probing the Martian rocks for evidence of past life. Throughout its investigation, it will collect samples of soil and rock, and cache them on the surface for potential return to Earth by a future mission.
After 5 years of search and after ruling out 60 potential candidate locations, NASA has chosen Jezero Crater as the potential landing sight for this mission. “The landing site in Jezero Crater offers geologically rich terrain, with landforms reaching as far back as 3.6 billion years old, that could potentially answer important questions in planetary evolution and astrobiology,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate.
3. Lunar Flashligth
Launch Date: 2020
Lunar Flashlight is an exciting new mission concept that was recently selected by NASA’s Advanced Exploration Systems (AES) by a team from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the Marshall Space Flight Center. Planned to launch on the Space Launch System’s Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1) flight, this innovative, low-cost secondary payload concept will map the lunar south pole for volatiles and demonstrate several technological firsts, including being the first CubeSat to reach the Moon, the first planetary CubeSat mission to use green propulsion, and the first mission to use lasers to look for water ice.
The launch location of this mission is yet to be determined.
4. Europa Clipper
Launch Date: TBD (2020s)
The mission will place a spacecraft in orbit around Jupiter in order to perform a detailed investigation of Europa — a world that shows strong evidence for an ocean of liquid water beneath its icy crust and which could host conditions favorable for life. The mission will send a highly capable, radiation-tolerant spacecraft into a long, looping orbit around Jupiter to perform repeated close flybys of the icy moon.
During the nominal mission, the spacecraft will perform 45 flybys of Europa at closest-approach altitudes varying from 1700 miles to 16 miles (2700 kilometers to 25 kilometers) above the surface.
5. NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar
Launch Date: 2020
NISAR is a joint venture of NASA and ISRO designed to observe and take measurements of some of the planet’s most complex processes. These include ecosystem disturbances, ice-sheet collapse, and natural hazards such as earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanoes and landslides.
Data collected from NISAR will reveal information about the evolution and state of Earth’s crust, help scientists better understand our planet’s processes and changing climate, and aid future resource and hazard management. The mission is a partnership between NASA and the Indian Space Research Organization.
Source of Information: NASA/JPL/Caltech