A once-in-a-decade report was just released, outlining what the future of NASA planetary exploration will look like. I read all 760 pages so you don’t have to:

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Random tidbits * If you think Venus feels missing from this report, you’re not wrong. But that’s likely because last summer three new Venus missions were approved: VERITAS (NASA) and EnVision (ESA), which will orbit and map Venus & search for ongoing eruptions, and DaVinci (NASA) which will descend through the atmosphere and take a bajillion pictures of Venus’s surface. So there’s no real reason for a flagship-class Venus mission anymore * The same goes for asteroid missions because a bunch of them were approved a few years ago (Psyche, Lucy, JANUS) * A bunch of other flagship concepts were evaluated but deemed less important or more technically risky than UOP and Orbilander: a Mercury lander, a Neptune orbiter, a Europa lander, and a Venus flagship. Perhaps they will get their turn next decadal survey My thoughts: * I am super happy with the selections, especially the selection of Uranus Orbiter and Probe *alongside* Mars Sample Return (I feared it would be one or the other). It is about damn time we went back to the ice giants * Gotta say, my predictions in the earlier post were pretty damn good. I predicted the top two flagships would be #1 a Neptune orbiter and #2 Enceladus Orbilander, and ended up being correct except Uranus instead of Neptune * I think we are seeing a pretty fundamental shift here. Since the last decadal survey, astrobiology has grown to become the dominant scientific objective and that’s awesome. We’re also seeing the beginning of a long-term shift away from Mars, and towards the outer solar system * I think the Endurance-A rover is a brilliant idea and will complement the Artemis missions super well for a mission that’s relatively cheap (in comparison to the Artemis landings!) * my brain hurts after reading a technical report for 2.5 hours

Pluto_and_Charon

Damn, I thought for sure Uranus was gonna get passed up for Neptune, but to me the Uranian system is more interesting, the main planet with its unique axial tilt and weather patterns and the Frankenstein world of Miranda is what makes it more interesting, though Triton is hard to beat. Good to see that it’s included in New Frontiers though!

StrangeTangerine1525

This is pretty neat to see in a condensed version. The universe is gonna get that much cooler as we expand into the stars!

Shylo132

Thanks for the summary, awesome to know a little about what the future may hold for Earth discovering its siblings. I appreciate you keeping the overview short too, I can’t do 760 pages without an audiobook version.

thePopefromTV

>Enceladus Multiple Flyby – if the budget isn’t available to do Enceladus Orbilander, this could be a cheaper alternative (but wont be as comprehensive and wont include a lander) This is the one I really care about. I’m convinced Enceladus is where we can find life. If it is in our solar system, that’s where it is. But I don’t have a billion dollars or a PhD so I’ll just shout from the sidelines. Thank you for your write up!

LastExitToSalvation