NASA has selected missions to return samples from a comet and to explore Titan with a drone as finalists for the next New Frontiers medium-class planetary science mission.
NASA released an announcement of opportunity (AO) for the agency’s next New Frontiers planetary science mission Dec. 9, kicking off a multi-year competition at least a month earlier than widely expected.
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.
Competition for NASA’s fourth New Frontiers class of medium-sized robotic solar-system missions won’t start for at least a month, but the agency is planning to give some would-be competitors a head start with a small round of technology development funding.
NASA's next New Frontiers competition will begin in 2016, NASA's Jim Green, director of planetary science, said Feb. 20. At stake: $1 billion in funding for a new robotic solar-system mission that would launch in 2021.