Even before the latest Cassimi spacecraft Mission to explore Saturn and its moons ends, NASA is already preparing for its next mission to explore our Solar System. The current Cassimi spacecraft mission is already considered to be a great success since it found strong evidence that alien life may exist on Saturn’s moons Rhea and Titan. The space agency is very optimistic that its next mission will also collect valuable data and make more new discoveries.

The New Frontiers program

The next New Frontiers mission that will explore our solar system is expected to launch in the year 2025.

It will be an unmanned probe spacecraft mission similar to Cassimi but it will have different objectives. Previous New Frontiers missions include the New Horizons probe spacecraft which passed by the planet Pluto in the outer solar system in 2015 and sent valuable data and detailed images, the Juno probe mission to Jupiter which is still in progress and the Osiris-Rex probe mission, the objective of which is to collect samples from the Bennu asteroid and bring them back to Earth.

The 12 candidates for the next mission

NASA has been reviewing proposals for its next New Frontiers mission for quite some time. The space agency has announced that its scientists have narrowed down the list to just twelve candidates.

Even though NASA has not yet announced the twelve candidates, we do know that it will be one of the following general themes:

Asteroid surface samples return to Earth: Since there is already an ongoing mission with the same objective, this might have the least chances of being chosen. On the other hand, NASA is taking the threat of an asteroid impact on Earth very seriously.

This is the reason that the space agency may eventually choose this one as a way to find out more about asteroids and find ways to prevent an impact from happening.

Lunar South Pole - Aitken Basin Sample Return: This will be interesting as we will learn more about our moon.

Exploration of possible ocean worlds that may exist on Titan and Enceladus: After the Cassimi spacecraft has found strong evidence that alien life may exist there, such an exploratory mission to actually give a definite answer to this question may just be the one that will be selected.

Saturn Probe: Cassimi is still exploring there so this might indeed have the least chances of being selected unless NASA wants to “play it safe” by choosing a mission that has the most chances of achieving its objectives.

Trojan Tour and Rendezvous: This would be a mission to explore the origin and evolution of the early solar system that can indeed provide a wealth of scientific knowledge and has good chances of being selected.

Venus in Situ Explorer: This would be a mission that would land on the planet Venus and provide scientific data about fundamental questions like what actually went wrong with the evolution of Venus and it became a place that can be described as resembling hell.

NASA is on the right path

Whichever of the above is chosen to be the next New Frontiers mission, it will definitely provide a wealth of new data that scientists can analyze and use to reach better conclusions. At this moment, humanity does not possess the technology to explore worlds beyond our solar system. However, the exploration of our solar system will definitely give answers to many of our questions until we are ready to take the next step and go even further.