What NASA Has Planned for This New Year


Image courtesy of Google Images.

Jillian Para, Writer

Technology is advancing fast and NASA, or the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, has a lot of plans, studies, launches, and explorations for this new year. Its hard for many to believe the first satellite launch by the United States was just in 1958. Its outstanding how only 62 years later the United States is even considering such complex space exploration on the moon, Mars, and even asteroids.

In 2020, NASA will be preparing the spacecraft, Artemis 1, for the moon. Their goal is to help enable human exploration for the moon, but this will be an uncrewed flight. This flight will also be a lunar orbital test.

Lunar Gateway. Image courtesy of Google Images.

Accompanying Artemis 1 is another spacecraft, Lunar Gateway. This craft is still in-development as well and will serve as a solar-powered space station in lunar orbit. Gateway is not just an outpost though. The inside will contain a communications hub, a holding area for rovers and other robots, and a short-term habitation module. 

 Another moon exploration device that is going to be under development in 2020 is the “Viper”. The Viper is around the size of a golf cart and will be taking on the moon’s rough terrain in search of water. While this rover is still underway, it is said to be done in December 2022.

NASA is coming out with some new-generation spacesuits. These spacesuits will be used on the Artemis mission. Advanced mobility, improved communications, and better safety will be introduced with these spacesuits. It is said that the development of these suits will cost around $250 million. 

NASA has big plans for Mars exploration as well. Mars 2020 is a rover expedition that is planned to launch in July. Another device to help this rover is the Mars Helicopter Scout, or MHS, that is a drone used to give scientists a bird’s eye-view of the planet. 

NASA scientists will also be holding a new experiment, Moxie, which is said to try to produce oxygen from the Martian carbon-dioxide atmosphere. Moxie stands for Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment. This model is small and is just being used as a test. We will surely see more similar models in the future if it works correctly. Oxygen on Mars may be a possibility at some point. 

OSIRIS-REx. Image courtesy of Google Images.

In other exciting news, NASA will be updating the public on spacecraft, OSIRIS-REx. This previously launched craft had been making its way towards an asteroid and will finally come in contact with it on February 17. It is said that OSIRIS-REx will return with a 60 gram sample of the asteroid. Scientists hope to get a better understanding of asteroids once this sample is retrieved.  

Finally NASA is “launching” a new study on the sun. The PUNCH mission, or Polarimeter to Unify the Corona and Heliosphere, will focus directly on the sun’s outer atmosphere, or corona, and discover how it generates solar winds. This study will enhance the research and knowledge humans have on the sun. So far, NASA has funded more than $165 million for PUNCH. 

For more information about these NASA studies, launches, and exploration, check out NASA’s official website https://www.nasa.gov/