The US National Aeronautics and Space Administration – NASA decided to send its next automatic station within the framework of the New Frontiers Program, either to the comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko or to Saturn’s satellite Titan. This was announced at a press conference on Wednesday by the head of the scientific directorate of NASA.
“This is a giant leap forward in the preparation of our next bold mission of scientific discovery, it’s about tempting [scientific] studies designed to answer some of today’s biggest questions relating to our solar system,” said the NASA spokesman.
According to him, the two selected projects became finalists of the process of consideration by NASA specialists of applications for participation in the further stages of the New Frontiers program submitted in April by various US research centers. In total, NASA received 12 such applications.
The final choice between the two NASA projects will be in July 2019. The immediate launch of the device within the framework of the winning project is expected to take place in 2025.
The struggle for this right projects, selected by the US space agency, provide an opportunity to send the probe to the comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko in order to take a sample from its surface and return these samples to Earth and the station to Titan, which will deliver a special quadrocopter to this Saturn satellite.
With the help of the latter, it is supposed to study several dozen areas of the surface of Titan, located several hundred kilometers apart. It is planned that the device will allow to better study the chemical composition of Titan, where the ocean was previously discovered at a depth of 100 km under the icy surface, hundreds of lakes and three seas in the polar regions, to understand how this satellite of Saturn is capable of supporting life.