10 Huge Upcoming NASA Missions You Won’t Want To Miss

Asteroid Redirect Mission

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As the name suggests, the function of the Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM) is to learn about asteroids to help protect Earth from experiencing what the dinosaurs went through.

Set for the 2020s, this mission will be launched toward a large nearby asteroid. Upon arrival, a large robotic arm will take a boulder off the asteroid. From there, the spacecraft will place the boulder in orbit around the Moon so that astronauts in the Orion spacecraft can explore it at greater lengths. This mission will provide critical data on asteroids, which astronomers will use to learn how to better identify and battle any threatening asteroids that come our way.

Just as importantly, the ARM will play a big part in getting humans on Mars by the 2030s. The technology used in this mission could be just what we need to make the journey. So while astronauts and scientists are studying asteroids, they will also be testing the instruments and equipment to see how it could help get humans and cargo to the Red Planet.

As exciting as this sounds, it will be put on hold. President Trump’s recently released 2018 budget cuts the ARM. But, to be fair, it does support the Orion spacecraft.

Orion Spacecraft

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The Orion spacecraft is NASA’s next big mission to put humans back into space and take us farther than ever before, hopefully to Mars. Orion is designed to withstand great temperatures, speeds, radiation, and other extreme environments. A normal shuttle would not be able to handle what Orion will be able to handle, which is a remarkable feat in aeronautics.

Orion will be launched on a huge rocket called Space Launch System (SLS). This rocket can carry Orion beyond the Moon! SLS is still being built, but Orion has already gone for a test run. The first was back in 2014.

The next big step for Orion is to go to a nearby asteroid to help with the asteroid mission in the 2020s. The ultimate goal for Orion, though, is to reach Mars in the 2030s.

Mars 2020 Rover

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Sticking with the Mars theme, the Mars Rover, set to launch in 2020, is a major step in the exploration of Mars. It’s a vehicle about the size of a car that will crawl along the surface of Mars and collect data.

NASA likes to compare the robot to a living being: It has a body, brain, arms, hands, legs, eyes, and ears. In other words, the rover can do many things. It is battery powered and insulated as well as equipped with an internal heater to fight against Mars’ temperatures. These features all contribute to its sustainability.

The “brain” NASA refers to is the computer system that will help process the information the rover collects, which will come through different channels. The rover has an arm and a hand that will reach around the surface and collect samples, like rocks, to bring back to Earth to be studied.

It also has “senses.” The rover’s cameras, antennae, and other technologies allow it to be aware of its environment so that it can properly maneuver and document its environment. It will also be able to communicate with control on Earth through its antennae.

Overall, the Mars Rover of 2020 will make great gains in the mission to Mars.

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