by Michael Lowrey
Van Kane offers up an informed look at the five finalists in NASA’s current cost-capped Discovery mission selection process. These are:
• DAVINCI (Deep Atmosphere Venus Investigation of Noble gases, Chemistry, and Imaging) proposal to drop an instrumented probe into Venus’ atmosphere.
• VERITAS (Venus Emissivity, Radio Science, InSAR, Topography, and Spectroscopy) mission to remap Venus’s surface with radar and conduct the first global mapping of its surface composition.
• NEOCam (Near-Earth Object Camera) mission to launch the first space telescope dedicated to observing asteroids.
• Lucy would study (flyby) the Trojan asteroids that share Jupiter’s orbit.
• Psyche would orbit the asteroid 16-Psyche, which is unique among the larger asteroids in having a composition that appears to be largely metallic.
NASA will select one or two missions to actually fly in a year with launch to happen by the end of 2021.