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NASA Chooses Two Finalists for a New Space Mission

NASA Chooses Two Finalists for a New Space Mission

Dragonfly is a dual-quadcopter lander that would take advantage of the environment on Saturn's hazy moon Titan to fly to multiple locations, some hundreds of miles apart, to sample materials and determine surface composition to investigate Titan's organic chemistry and habitability, monitor atmospheric and surface conditions, image landforms to investigate geological processes, and perform seismic studies.

Option two is the Dragonfly mission.

That previous mission will help the development of CAESAR.

These missions aren't meant to be the really big stuff - nobody will be heading off to Proxima-b in the neighboring galaxy - but rather mid-sized projects that would be impossible for most scientists around the world, but which NASA can handle more easily. Weeks Professor of Physical Sciences in Cornell's Department of Astronomy, is the principal investigator for CAESAR.

The struggle for this right projects, selected by the United States space agency, provide an opportunity to send the probe to the comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko in order to take a sample from its surface and return these samples to Earth and the station to Titan, which will deliver a special quadrocopter to this Saturn satellite.

CAESAR is created to collect both volatile ices and nonvolatile materials, which will be separated and placed in different containers in a return capsule.

The other mission selected for further study is known as Comet Astrobiology Exploration Sample Return, or CAESAR. That return capsule will be provided by the Japanese space agency JAXA, based on its experience with the Hayabusa asteroid sample return missions. It would be following ESA's Huygens mission, which landed in 2005 as part of Nasa's Cassini mission. That project would be managed by the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland. "Dragonfly is created to go back and build on what we learned from Cassini/Huygens and answers the fundamental unknowns that remain about Titan".

The ELSAH mission concept will receive funds to improve cost-effective techniques that limit spacecraft infection and thereby allow life detection measurements on cost-capped missions.

Losing out on the competition were proposals that ranged from Venus orbiters and landers and a lunar sample return mission to missions to Saturn and its icy moon Enceladus.

Its forerunners are the New Horizons mission to Pluto and a Kuiper Belt object identified as 2014 MU69, the Juno mission to Jupiter, and OSIRIS-REx, which will rendezvous with and return a specimen of the asteroid Bennu.

The space agency announced it's choosing between these two robotic missions after narrowing the list from 12 original ideas. It would be expected to operate for years following a landing on Titan in 2034.

CAESAR would collect at least 100 grams (3.5 ounces) of cometary material and bring it back to Earth in 2038. Dragonfly would be managed by APL, whereas CAESAR would be managed by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. Opportunity continues to operate, almost 14 years after landing. "By going to that comet, there's an enormous amount of risk reduction that takes place", he said.

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