NASA Has a Slew of Fascinating Space Missions on the Horizon


In 2023, space missions took a major leap forward as NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission successfully collected a sample from an asteroid, while India’s Chandrayaan-3 mission explored the lunar south pole. Looking ahead, 2024 is poised to be another thrilling year for space exploration, with numerous new missions planned under NASA’s Artemis program and Commercial Lunar Payload Services initiative, all focused on the Moon.

The second half of 2024 promises a series of exciting launches. In September, the Martian Moons eXploration mission will take off, aiming to study the moons of Mars. This will be followed by the launches of Europa Clipper and Hera in October. Europa Clipper, a NASA mission, will explore Jupiter’s moon Europa, which is believed to have a subsurface ocean that could potentially support extraterrestrial life. Hera, an ESA mission, will return to the Didymos-Dimorphos asteroid system previously visited by NASA’s DART mission. Hera will study the physical properties of these asteroids.

November will witness two significant missions. First, Artemis II, part of NASA’s Artemis program, will mark the first crewed step towards returning humans to the Moon since 1972. This 10-day mission will orbit the Moon and pave the way for future lunar exploration. Simultaneously, NASA’s VIPER rover will be deployed to the Moon’s south pole to search for water and other resources that could support future human missions.

NASA’s Lunar Trailblazer, a secondary payload mission, will orbit the Moon and map the distribution of water molecules across its surface. Scheduled for launch in early 2024, Lunar Trailblazer’s timing is contingent on the readiness of the primary payload, PRIME-1, which will conduct a drilling test on the Moon.

Meanwhile, the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) is preparing for its Martian Moon eXploration mission (MMX), set to launch in September 2024. MMX will spend three years observing Mars’ moons, Phobos and Deimos, in order to determine their origin.

Lastly, the European Space Agency’s Hera mission, launching in October 2024, will study the physical properties of the Didymos-Dimorphos asteroid system. This mission follows NASA’s DART, which intentionally collided with Dimorphos to test a planetary defense technique known as “kinetic impact.”

The year 2024 promises to be a significant milestone in space exploration, with missions targeting the Moon, Mars’ moons, and asteroids. These endeavors will expand our understanding of other celestial bodies and pave the way for future human exploration, bringing us closer to unraveling the mysteries of the universe.



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