NASA has selected two missions to asteroids in the latest round of its Discovery planetary science program, a move that NASA says puts the program back on track after a recent drought of missions.
The agency has said it could select two of the five finalists for the latest of its Discovery-class planetary missions — including two Venus concepts and three asteroid concepts — next year for full-scale development.
Five robotic mission concepts — two for Venus, three for asteroids — will duke it out to become NASA's next Discovery-class small planetary science mission. The winner would launch in 2021.
Over half of the 28 proposals NASA received for a $450 million robotic solar-system mission launching around 2021 seek to explore small bodies such as comets, asteroids or tiny moons.