NASA Advisers Call For Visit To Uranus, Plus More Science During Moon Landing
A robotic mission to orbit Uranus. A probe that can land on a potentially life-supporting moon of Saturn. And a better plan for astronauts to do high-quality science on the moon.
These are among the top priorities outlined in a new report from an influential group that's advising NASA on where to boldly go in the next decade, from 2023 to 2032.
Retrieving Mars rocks is "highest scientific priority"
The last time around, in 2011, expert advisers told NASA to gather an interesting selection of rocks on Mars and then work to bring those pristine samples back to Earth for chemical analyses.
This could show whether the red planet ever had life.
They also argued for a mission to Europa, a moon of Jupiter that seems to have an ocean of water beneath its icy surface.
NASA embraced those goals and has been making progress, but planetary scientists have started to worry that cost overruns might threaten ability to visit other places in the solar system that beckon.
"Right now in planetary science in the U.S., we're at record levels of funding," says Casey Dreier, senior space policy adviser for The Planetary Society, a nonprofit that promotes space exploration.
"But I think at the same time, we are being squeezed by two major missions, Mars Sample Return and Europa Clipper."