NASA has published the results of the competition of small space missions. It included four programs – two on the study of Venus, one – the satellite of Jupiter Io and another – the satellite of Neptune Triton. This is stated in a statement by NASA.
As part of the Discovery Small Space Mission program, NASA selected four missions for a grant of $ 500 million out of several dozen applicants. Applications were submitted within five years from the completion of the previous phase of the program in 2016. The winners will receive $ 3 million each for the development of a detailed concept plan, which should appear in 9 months. If successful, two missions should be sent to space after 2022, when two Discovery missions under construction, the asteroid probes Lucy and Psyche, will be put into orbit.
NASA’s mission included the DAVINCI + mission, which had previously entered the Discovery finalists list. The developers of DAVINCI + propose creating a descent vehicle that can study the chemical composition of its atmosphere during a 63-minute descent to the surface of Venus. The device will also let you know if there are volcanoes on Venus now and how the atmosphere reacts with the surface of the planet.
Another mission to study Venus, VERITAS, which also won the competition, was a continuation of the Magellan probe, which studied this planet in the early 1990s. She will conduct similar cartographic research using more powerful radars and other scientific tools. As part of the program, scientists are going to create the first three-dimensional map of Venus.
The IVO apparatus for the study of one of the largest moons of Jupiter, Io, will be able to make several close spans on its surface to find out how the attraction of a giant planet heats the bowels of its moon.
The latest project – TRIDENT – will study the satellite of Neptune Triton, and also look for a liquid ocean and signs of geological activity. At the same time, it may become the second device in history that flies past Neptune and Triton after Voyager-2, which did so in 1989.