10 things to watch out for in planetary science for 2022 – NASA’s solar system exploration
Deployment of a new space telescope; deflect an asteroid with a spaceship; and visit a metal-rich asteroid. These and many more are on NASA’s 2022 calendar.
1. The Webb telescope goes to work
The new James Webb Space Telescope delivers its first images in June.
2. Psyche: mission to a metal-rich asteroid
Launched in August 2022, NASA’s Psyche spacecraft will orbit a metal-rich asteroid, also known as Psyche, in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.
3. DART crashes into an asteroid
DART will crash into the asteroid Dimorphos this fall to test Earth’s defense technology against potential dangers from asteroids or comets.
4. Moment of the triple crown for Venus
Three new missions to Venus are in development in 2022, after being announced by NASA and ESA last year. NASA’s VERITAS and DAVINCI will complement the European Space Agency’s EnVision to provide the most comprehensive study of Venus ever.
5. Europa Clipper: Adjust the trajectory
Scientists are busy fine-tuning the Europa Clipper’s planned trajectory ahead of the mission’s launch in 2024. The spacecraft will determine whether Europa has the potential for suitable conditions for life.
6. New robots for Mars
NASA is participating in new international missions to Mars. The ExoMars 2022 rover and surface platform will help understand if life ever existed on Mars.
7. Two great birthdays on Mars
Curiosity marks 10 years on Mars in 2022. The rover is helping determine if Mars has ever had the right conditions to support microbes. NASA’s Mars Pathfinder mission ushered in a new era of exploration when it landed on July 4, 1997, taking Sojourner, the first rover to Mars, with it.
8. Close encounters with Parker Solar Probe
In 2021, a spacecraft made contact with the Sun for the first time. Parker will have closer encounters with the Sun in 2022.
9. Private companies bring science to the moon
Astrobotic and intuitive machines are expected to launch scientific payloads to the moon as part of NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) initiative.
10. Go in depth to improve space communications
Deep Space Optical Communications (DSOC) will be launched aboard NASA’s Psyche mission to help spacecraft communicate with Earth faster.