This article originally appeared in The conversation.
The year 2023 will be important for space missions, with NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission. return a sample of an asteroid and the Indian Chandrayaan-3 mission exploring the lunar south poleand 2024 is shaping up to be another exciting year for space exploration.
The second half of the year will feature several interesting launches, with the Martian Moons eXploration mission launching in September, Europa Clipper and Hera in October, and Artemis II and VIPER to the Moon in November, if all goes as planned.
I am a planetary scientistand here are six of the space missions I’m most excited to follow in 2024.
1. Europe Clipper
NASA will launch Europe Clipperthat will explore one of Jupiter’s largest moons, Europa. Europa is slightly smaller than Earth’s Moon and has a surface made of ice. Beneath its icy shell, Europa likely hosts a saltwater ocean, which scientists expect to contain more than twice as much water as all oceans. oceans here on Earth combined.
With Europa Clipper, scientists want to investigate whether Europa’s ocean could be a suitable habitat for extraterrestrial life.
The mission plans to do this by flying over Europe. almost 50 times study the icy shell of the moon and the geology of its surface and its underground ocean. The mission will also seek active geysers spitting from Europe.
This mission will change the game for scientists hoping to understand ocean worlds like Europe.
The launch window (the period in which the mission could launch and reach its planned route)opens October 10, 2024, and lasts 21 days. Spaceship launch on a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket and reach the Jupiter system in 2030.
2. Launch of Artemis II
The Artemis program, named after Apollo’s twin sister In Greek mythology, it is NASA’s plan to return to the Moon. Will send humans to the Moon for the first time since 1972, including First woman and first person of color.. Artemis also includes plans for a sustained long-term presence in space That will prepare NASA to eventually send people even further afield.loving You.
Artemis II is the first manned step of this plan, with four astronauts He was scheduled to be on board for the 10-day mission.
Artemis II will put astronauts into orbit around the Moon before returning them home. It is currently planned for launch from November 2024. But there is a chance it could be delayed until 2025, depending on whether all the necessary equipment, such as spacesuits and oxygen equipment, is available. ready.
3. VIPER to search for water on the Moon
Originally scheduled for release in 2023.NASA delayed the mission to complete more testing on the lander system, which astrobotica private company, developed as part of the Commercial Lunar Payload Services program.
This robotic mission is designed to search volatile, which are molecules that vaporize easily, like water and carbon dioxide, at lunar temperatures. These materials could provide resources for future human exploration on the moon.
The VIPER robot will depend on batteries, heat pipes and radiators throughout its life. 100 day missionas you navigate everything from the extreme heat of lunar daylight, when temperatures can reach 224 degrees Fahrenheit (107 degrees Celsius), to the Moon. cold and shady regions which can reach a mind-blowing temperature of -400 F (-240 C).
Launch and delivery of VIPER to the lunar surface is planned for November 2024.
4. Lunar Trailblazer and PRIME-1 Missions
NASA has recently invested in a class of small, low-cost planetary missions called SIMPLEx, which stands for Small and Innovative Missions for Planetary Exploration. These missions save costs by accompanying them on other launches as what is called rideshare or secondary payload.
An example is the lunar pioneer. Like VIPER, Lunar Trailblazer will search for water on the Moon.
But while VIPER will land on the Moon’s surface, studying in detail a specific area near the south pole, Lunar Trailblazer will orbit the Moon, measuring the surface temperature and map the location of water molecules across the globe.
Currently, Lunar Trailblazer is on the way will be ready in early 2024.
However, because it is a secondary payload, the launch time of the Lunar Trailblazer depends on the readiness for launch of the primary payload. He COUSIN-1 mission, scheduled for a mid-2024 releaseIt is the journey of the Lunar Trailblazer.
PRIME-1 will drill the Moon: it is a test for this type of drilling which VIPER will use. But its release date will likely depend on whether previous releases happen on time.
5. JAXA Martian Moon Exploration Mission
While Earth’s Moon has many visitors (large and small, robotic and manned) planned for 2024, Mars’ moons Phobos and Deimos will also soon receive a visitor. The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, or JAXA, has a robotic mission in development called Martian Moon Exploration, or MMX, Its launch is scheduled for September 2024.
The main scientific objective of the mission is to determine the origin of the moons of Mars. Scientists are not sure if Phobos and Deimos are Ancient asteroids that Mars captured in orbit with its gravity. or if they formed from rubble which was already in orbit around Mars.
The spacecraft will spend three years around Mars performing scientific operations to observe Phobos and Deimos. MMX will also land on the surface of Phobos and collect a sample before returning to Earth.
6. ESA’s Hera mission
The kinetic impact technique smashes something into an object to alter its trajectory. This could prove useful if humanity ever finds a potentially dangerous object on a collision course with Earth and needs to redirect it.
Disclosure: Ali M. Bramson receives funding from NASA.