(Hat Tip: Space Pragmatism)
After having successfully launched (and landed) two rovers on Mars, with a third on the way, NASA is readjusting priorities and focusing on the outer gas planets.
(Red Orbit) However, Griffin referred to a recent evaluation from the US National Research Council which gave NASA an “A” for its ventures to Mars, while it received a “D” for outer planets and a “C” for research and analysis.
He announced that a major robotic mission to the outer planets was in the works. “We’ve rebalanced our planetary science portfolio accordingly,” Dr Griffin told the conference.
“As I discussed elsewhere, we’ve learned more, and had more questions to answer, about the many other planets and moons in our Solar System.
“So after Mars Science Lab – the current planetary sciences flagship – we are now planning in earnest for an outer planets flagship to Europa, Titan or Ganymede.”
Even though news like this will not make the Mars Society very happy, NASA’s new direction will probably help out Jovian scientists who have been patiently waiting to launch their own probes (and perhaps rovers) to the outer planets.
While Europa and Io are too radioactive for human settlement, Jupiter’s other siblings (Ganymede and Callisto) may hold much promise for our future species, along with Saturn’s Titan (which may rival Earth in beauty).