NASA Juno probe has been placed on an orbit around Jupiter earlier this month and the first high-resolution images are slated to reach us in late August. But the space agency recently said that there are more “uncharted, promising worlds” out there which it is eager to explore.
Jim Green, head of the NASA Planetary Division said in a recent interview that the latest mission to Jupiter was an example of “extraordinary science” that can be picked just around our cosmic backyard.
“There are many uncharted, promising worlds and objects we are eager to explore with our current and future missions,”
Green also said.
NASA is now building a space observatory designed not only to spot distant objects in distant galaxies but also faint objects within our own Solar System. The James Webb Space Telescope (in short, Webb telescope), which will be launched in October 2018, is expected to provide scientists with much more accurate images of space objects and it is equipped with tools that can produce both spectral and angular imagery.
The Webb telescope is so sensitive that it can provide hints on the geological activity on distant worlds.
Juno probe is expected to analyze the gas giant’s atmosphere, structure and moons. NASA researchers are intrigued with Jupiter’s moon Io which is currently the most geologically active known object in the Solar System. There are signs of intense volcanism on the small moon’s surface.
Furthermore, NASA is now planning a $30 million mission to another Jupiter moon, Europa. Reportedly a solar-powered orbiter will perform up to 45 close flybys of the moon and seek more evidence on a subsurface liquid ocean scientists have long theorized.
NASA/ESA’s veteran space telescope Hubble has captured unprecedented data on Jupiter’s auroras and largest moon Ganymede. Scientists now believe that Ganymede may host saltwater on its surface. Hubble should remain functional 5 more years and provide one-of-a-kind science.
NASA’s Cassini probe will keep collecting data on Saturn and its moons as it has done for more than a decade. The space craft is expected to end its mission next year with 22 plunges through the tight space between the planet and its famed rings. The 22 dives, dubbed the Grand Finale will represent a separate mission which should yield unique scientific insights.
In September, NASA will launch a sample return mission dubbed OSIRIS-REx (Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer). OSIRIS-REx is expected to take rock samples from a near-Earth asteroid called Benu and return them to our planet in seven years’ time.
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