Nasa may get deep and meaningful with Mars

 

NASA HAS sketched out some interesting future projects that it is considering, including probing the interior of Mars, floating on a sea on one of Saturn’s moons and hopping on a comet.

The space agency put out a call for spaceflight projects last year under its Discovery Program, and from the 28 submissions they received, these investigations are the finalists.

The first involves kitting out a Mars lander with a seismometer to measure quakes, a thermal probe to measure heat flow from the planet’s interior and equipment to measure tiny wobbles in Mars that could give clues about its core.

Another proposed project looks to land on and float in a methane-ethane sea on Saturn’s moon Titan, while the final one aims to land on a comet several times and look at how it interacts with the sun.

Each team now gets $3 million to flesh out their idea, and next year NASA will select one for a potential mission in 2016.

“NASA continues to do extraordinary science that is rewriting textbooks,” said NASA administrator Charles Bolden.

“Missions like these hold great promise to vastly increase our knowledge, extend our reach into the solar system and inspire future generations of explorers.”

On the technology side, the Discovery Program also selected three projects: a space-based telescope to look at near-Earth objects, a mass spectrometer to look at the chemical composition of comet ices and a technique that could lead to the discovery of celestial objects in the outer solar system.