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Five places in the solar system we should explore next

The solar system is our home, but we've barely looked into most of its rooms.

To be fair, many of those rooms are difficult to get to. Pluto, Eris, Quaoar, and the other small not quite planets beyond Neptune are so far away, we can't see surface features on them even with our most powerful telescopes. Closer targets still involve a lot of effort, but that doesn't stop scientists from planning missions, and budget woes can't stop them from dreaming.

In the wake of the recent arrival of two new probes orbiting Mars and Philae landing on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, I took an informal poll of planetary scientists. I asked them to identify some of their personal priorities and what they consider the largest scientific goals for the future. While some of the missions they mentioned would require a lot of money (though they would still be much cheaper than a year of war), they are all workable and in some cases, the probes have already been designed. Our missions to other worlds, successful as they are, tend to be of a few types or probes. In my conversations with these researchers, they have a lot more ambition and creativity and ambitious plans for future exploration. descriptive essay help

What follows is not exhaustive. I've limited the list to robotic missions and excluded missions to minor planetary bodies: comets, asteroids, Kuiper belt objects like Pluto and its cousins, etc. If we haven't looked into many of the rooms in our solar system house yet, it's not due to a lack of imagination.


Venus is the closest planet to Earth, both in distance and in size. However, it's strikingly different in other respects: Its atmosphere is thick carbon dioxide and clouds of sulfur dioxide, and sulfuric acid rains onto a surface hot enough to melt lead. But that doesn't mean it's not worth studying. While Mars and the Moon are geologically quiet, Venus is a live one, with active geology and complex changeable meteorology, says David Grinspoon, distinguished visiting scholar in astrobiology at the Library of Congress.

Previous missions, including NASAs Magellan orbiter and the Soviet Venera probes, mapped the planet's surface. A few even landed and took samples before being destroyed by the high heat and pressure; the Vega 1 mission even included an atmospheric balloon. But most of these serious missions date back decades and were short-lived.

For that reason, Grinspoon helped assemble a proposal for the Venus Climate Mission, an ambitious project that would include multiple atmospheric probes and a balloon for longer-term middle-altitude measurements. Venus is a laboratory for improving our understanding of many key components of our climate models, like clouds, says Grinspoon. That particular study is applicable to Earth: Venus is a vision of the ultimate fate of the Earth without climate intervention. While our atmosphere has far less carbon dioxide, accelerated climate change could make our world far more Venus-like in the future.

Via - news.nationalpost.com