NASA's future missions will shoot for an icy moon of Saturn, photograph the Big Bang, and more. Here's what's coming in the next 10 years.
- In the past year, NASA has announced plans to return humans to the moon and search for life on one of Saturn's moons with a nuclear-powered helicopter.
- NASA's 10-year plan also includes missions to probe the metal core of a dead planet, scan for alien life in a subsurface ocean of Jupiter's moon Europa, and photograph the Big Bang.
- Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
NASA's 10-year plan involves billions of dollars and spans millions of miles. And much like the universe, it's only expanding.
Last year, the agency announced that it's planning to send astronauts back to the moon and eventually build a base there, with a Mars-bound mission to follow in the years after that. In June, the agency introduced a mission that aims to fly a nuclear-powered helicopter over the surface of Titan, an icy moon of Saturn's, to scan for alien life. NASA wants to looking for life in other places too, like the ocean below the icy surface of Jupiter's moon Europa.
Other future missions will try to photograph our entire cosmic history and map the dark matter and dark energy that govern our universe.
Here are some of NASA's biggest and most ambitious plans for the coming decade.
Several ground-breaking NASA missions are already in progress, including the Parker Solar Probe, which will will rocket past the sun a total of 24 times.
Far from the sun, New Horizons is exploring the Kuiper Belt, a region of millions of chunks of ice left over from the solar system's birth.
On the surface of Mars, the InSight lander is listening for quakes.
A new Mars rover will join InSight next year. NASA is currently building the vehicle in its Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.
Researchers hope a future mission to Mars could return the Martian rock samples that the Mars 2020 rover collects back to Earth.
NASA eventually hopes to send a crewed mission to Mars. But before that, the agency plans to return astronauts to the moon and built a lunar base there.
From the lunar surface, astronauts may springboard to Mars.
NASA also plans to investigate our solar system's past by launching a mission to an asteroid belt surrounding Jupiter.
Relatively nearby, a spacecraft will scan for alien life in the saltwater ocean on Jupiter's moon Europa.
That investigation could help scientists prepare to land a future spacecraft on Europa's surface and punch through the ice.
A nuclear-powered helicopter called Dragonfly will take the search for alien life one planet further, to Saturn's largest moon, Titan.
Another NASA team is developing a spacecraft to probe the metal core of a dead planet called Psyche.
NASA also has 176 missions in the works that use CubeSats: 4-by-4-inch cube-shaped nanotechnology satellites.
Closer to home, the European Space Agency's Euclid telescope will study dark matter and dark energy.
The James Webb Space Telescope, which has a massive, 18-panel mirror, will scan the universe for life-hosting planets and attempt to look back in time to photograph the Big Bang.
The James Webb Space Telescope will be capable of capturing extremely faint signals. The farther it looks out into space, the more it will look back in time, so the telescope could even detect the first glows of the Big Bang.
The Wide Field InfraRed Survey Telescope (WFIRST) is expected to detect thousands of new planets and test theories of general relativity and dark energy.
- Adani Ports Q1 profits declines to ₹1,091 crore
- Unicorns and startups should prepare for a longer funding winter, says SoftBank's Masayoshi Son
- Lok Sabha passes Energy Conservation Bill to promote non-fossil fuels
- Indian government is reportedly planning on restricting Xiaomi, Realme, Vivo and Oppo from the budget smartphone segment
- Less than 50% of children able to catch up with age-appropriate learning, claims survey