NASA is expanding these 8 planetary exploration missions

The American Space Agency on Monday April 25 decided to extend the life of seven planetary probes and a rover according to a new assessment. It is common to increase the duration of planetary missions as long as the probes are in good condition to provide data. Advanced missions overview.

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Osiris-Rex’s (Nasa) mission was to collect rock samples from the surface of the near-Earth asteroid Bennu and bring them back to Earth. The first goal was achieved in October 2020. The second will have to wait until September 2023. But the machine returned to Earth on Monday, May 10, 2021. Back in the video for this incredible scientific and technological adventure. (in English) © Goddard Space Flight Center, NASA

All these probes have already yielded scientific results during their existence duration Initial life or are in mission expansion. Barring exceptions, authorities generally intend to use the probes well beyond their original mission duration. For example the Mars rover Opportunity had an initial lifetime of 90 days. In the end he rode for almost fourteen years until that a sandstorm deprived him of his light for months and ended his mission. The extensions were decided on the advice of a panel of independent experts from academies NASAand the space industry.

Expansion of Mars missions

Multiple probes orbitals her term of office was extended. This is the case first of all with the Maven probe. Since its inception orbit in September 2014 the probe investigates the interaction between the Martian atmosphere and the magnetic field of Mars with the sun, especially when it’s at its peak of activity. This was the case in 2014 when the probe reached Mars. The next peak in solar activity is expected in 2023-2024. Therefore, Maven’s mission has been extended by three years.

respondents Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) and Mars Odyssey were also renewed for three years. These two probes are quite old. MRO entered orbit around the Red Planet in 2006 and continues to do so provide nice images of the surface with the HiRISE instrument. Mars Odyssey is the oldest spacecraft around Mars (all nations combined), with more than 20 years mission! (She arrived in October 2001.) The two probes also serve as relays between Earth and the Curiosity rovers and persistence. MRO and Odyssey will continue to study Martian ice and rock as they follow suit climate of the planet.

It is on the floor rover Curiosity benefiting from a further three-year extension. The rover is scheduled to roll on Mars for ten years next August Analyze your soil. He has traveled more than 27 kilometers and will continue to climb into Gale Crater in search of sulfate layers. Studying the latter gives us exclusive information about the history of water on Mars. Finally, that Mission Insightposed in November 2018, and the records of earthquake Martians with the French instrument Seis, has been extended to the end of 2022. However, the solar panels are covered with too much sand and dust to give him more timeunless a whirlwinddust devil” come and clean everything.

New mission for Osiris-Rex

As a reminder, the probe Osiris-Rex took many samples from the surface of theasteroid Bennu in October 2020. Today, The probe flies towards the earth to set down the sample capsule there on September 24, 2023. After that, she is assigned to a new mission: to orbit the asteroid NEO Apophis. The latter with a diameter of almost 370 meters, will be just 32,000 kilometers from Earth by 2029. Shortly thereafter, the probe goes into orbit around it. This will be the opportunity to examine and see an S-type asteroid up close for the first time the effects on its surface caused by its very close flyby of our planet. Therefore, the mission has been extended by nine years and is called Osiris-Apex Apophis Explorer.

The famous mission new Horizons was also extended. According to fly over Pluto in 2015, then the icy body Arrokoth (formerly Ultima Thule) of the Kuiper Belt in 2019. Its mission is now to probe the boundaries of the Kuiper Belt solar system, more than 63 times the Earth-Sun distance (63 astronomical units). So it’s no wonder that New Horizons has been extended by three years.

Finally, the last mission to be extended is the lunar probe Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiters (LRO). This probe questioned on the lunar surface since June 2009. Extended for three years, LRO must specifically target the permanently shadowed zones of the moon’s south pole where water ice may exist. His observations will continue to prepare for the United States’ return to the moon.

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