New York, December 31 -- The moon, Venus, and an asteroid have been named as the three shortlisted finalists for the next venture by U.S. space agency NASA.
The unmanned mission, proposed in the wake of the current political pressure, has been initiated from the Discovery program.
Final selection of project in 2011
NASA, which has been under considerable pressure to cut costs, is asking scientists to come up with low cost ideas to further space exploration.
The proposed project, devised keeping in mind the cost cutting objective, will be getting the green signal in the middle of 2011.
The three separate projects will be studied and explored individually and only one out of the three will be taken for final consideration.
The space agency on Tuesday said that the whole project will cost approximately $650 million and will help in deep investigation.
The study on Venus will gather evidence on why it is different from Earth, despite being Earth’s sister planet. The probe on the moon will collect rocks which would offer insights on how the moon and the Earth developed.
The final search will travel to a primeval asteroid to get 56 grams of material from its surface.
“These three proposals provide the best science value among eight submitted to NASA this year,” said NASA's Ed Weiler.
NASA to save cost with New Frontier program
NASA’s latest program is a part of the New Frontiers program, which was launched in 2006.
The New Frontiers program challenges the space agency to accomplish scientific exploration of the Solar System in comparatively less cost. It also opens up a prospect to enhance education and engage in scientific discoveries.
NASA’s first mission for the New Frontier program was launched in 2006, which will fly by the Pluto-Charon system in 2015.
The second mission, Juno, which will orbit Jupiter, is to be launched in Aug. 2011.
The agency, which expects to send man to the moon by 2020, will be working within certain constraints in this program but expects it to be complete by 2018.
It has two of its finalists at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in La Canada Flintridge. The JPL is a national historic landmark used as a research and development center for space exploration.