NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) lunar probes, the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) and the transit of Venus across the sun are among Discovery News’ “Most Anticipated Space Missions of 2012.”
The twin GRAIL spacecraft, which just arrived in lunar orbit, will help scientists create a high-resolution map of the Moon’s gravitational field, allowing them to better understand what goes on below the lunar surface.
In August, the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover is expected to touch down in the red planet’s Gale Crater to begin a search for evidence that Mars is, or was, capable of supporting microbial life.
In June, Venus will make its last pass in front of the sun, relative to Earth’s line of sight, until December 2117. “A barrage of studies are planned, including a look at Venus’ atmosphere as a way to test techniques for studying atmospheres of planets beyond the solar system,” Discovery News reports.