Could New Frontiers go to Titan and Enceladus?

I am beyond ecstatic to learn about all of the amazing new discoveries coming from the world and universe around us. It seems as if these past few months there has been one after another. To top it off, we’ve been getting cool news about Blue Origins, Space X, and NASA reports on new missions.

That’s exactly what this article is all about. That’s right, friends! NASA has just announced the potential for a new mission. This time, we’re going to explore two of Saturn’s moons – Titan and Enceladus. These two moons have been selected eligible for NASA’s next New Frontiers mission. Although it’s not certain if it’ll happen, this means that exploring these two worlds are being carefully considered.

In 2017, a New Frontiers Competition will take place. If it’s proved to officials that a trip to Titan and Enceladus is worth it (and not to mention safe, doable, and all of that fun stuff), that it’ll be one of the six potential mission ideas for the next journey they take.

The official email announcement stated: “The Ocean Worlds theme for this announcement is tentatively focused on the search for signs of extant life and/or characterizing the potential habitability of Titan or Enceladus.”

Titan // Saturn's Moon

Titan and Enceladus have a potential for life, seeing as liquid can be possibly be found on both. Titan is the second biggest moon in our solar system yet and is the only one to have a dense-like atmosphere, similar to something planet-like. Its surface pressure is slightly higher than Earth’s, and its temperature makes water the same feel as rocks. It allows methane to be found in liquid form. Scientists say it’s the closest thing they’ve found to Earth so far, and that it somewhat replicates our home planet in its very early years. I mean, who knows? A couple million years away and Titan could evolve to be something generations after us can live on.

Enceladus, on the other hand, has an ocean underneath its very, very icy surface. Or, so we’re hoping. With water comes the potential for life. Bacteria, single-celled organisms, and other things could possibly be living on Enceladus and we don’t even know it!

“The Committee directs NASA to create an Ocean World Exploration Program whose primary goal is to discover extant life on another world using a mix of Discovery, New Frontiers and flagship class missions consistent with the recommendations of current and future Planetary Decadal surveys.” (Also from the report.)

Enceladus // Saturn's Moon

This July, NASA will issue a draft of the New Frontiers announcement. Later in 2017, a final version will be released. By November of 2017, we will finally have several proposals for more studies. From that point on, a final decision will be made in May of 2019, and the project will be set to launch in 2024. (Who knows, maybe I can make it in the industry by that mission *fingers crossed*)

The entire New Frontiers mission has been capped at $850 million, but due to launch and other properties of space travel, it’ll probably cost an estimated $1 billion. But hey, what’s new?

I’m excited to keep up with all the news we have coming our way when it comes to new Frontiers. I’m also really happy about NASA opening up about making a mission to Titan and Enceladus, seeing as I really think both moons have cool aspects, and the potential to habitat human beings or other life forms sometime in the far future. Until then, check back here for updates on the mission!

Source: Space News

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