Science & Tech

Key Missions and Scientific Initiatives for Space Exploration in 2024

  • Following notable breakthroughs in 2023, such as NASA’s OSIRIS-REx and India’s Chandrayaan-3 missions, 2024 is likely to be a watershed year in space exploration.

Future Missions

  • Several significant missions under NASA’s Artemis plan and Commercial Lunar Payload Services, as well as other international endeavours, will take place this year.

 Europa Clipper Mission

  • The goal of NASA’s Europa Clipper mission is to investigate Jupiter’s moon Europa, which is known for its ice surface and probable subsurface saltwater ocean.
  • The mission’s significance is to evaluate Europa’s habitability for extraterrestrial life by researching its icy shell, geology, and ocean.
  • Launch Specifics: The mission is slated to launch on October 10, 2024, atop a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket, and will arrive at Jupiter in 2030.

Artemis II Mission

  • Programme Objectives: This project is part of NASA’s Artemis programme to return humans to the Moon, which includes plans for a long-term presence and future Mars missions.
  • Artemis II, which will follow the uncrewed Artemis I, will be the first crewed mission to orbit the Moon since 1972, scheduled for November 2024.

VIPER Lunar Mission

  • VIPER (Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover) will search the Moon’s south pole for volatiles such as water and carbon dioxide.
  • Technology and Timetable: VIPER, which is designed to withstand high lunar temperatures, is set to launch in November 2024, with an emphasis on resources for future human exploration.

Lunar Trailblazer and PRIME-1 Missions

  • SIMPLEx Programme: These missions are part of NASA’s Small, Innovative Missions for Planetary Exploration (SIMPLEx) programme, which provides low-cost ridesharing options.
  • The Lunar Trailblazer will orbit the Moon to identify water spots, while PRIME-1 will test drilling equipment. Both missions are expected to launch in mid-2024.

JAXA’s Martian Moon eXploration (MMX) Mission

  • The MMX mission of JAXA intends to investigate the origins of Mars’ moons, Phobos and Deimos.
  • Science Operations: The spacecraft will fly for three years, landing on Phobos and returning a sample to Earth, with a launch scheduled for September 2024.

ESA’s Hera Mission

  • The European Space Agency’s Hera mission will explore the Didymos-Dimorphos asteroid system following the kinetic impact of NASA’s DART mission in 2022.
  • Planetary Defence: Hera, scheduled to launch in October 2024, will examine the impact of DART’s collision and study the physical features of asteroids.
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