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Missions selected for further planetary studies: JPL

05-06-2011 10:43 BJT

LOS ANGELES, May 5 (Xinhua) -- NASA has selected three planetary missions from which it will pick one potential mission to look at Mars' interior for the first time, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) announced on Thursday.

The Mars mission, to be launched in 2016, would be led by JPL, according to the announcement.

The other two missions would study an extraterrestrial sea on one of Saturn's moons; or study in unprecedented detail the surface of a comet's nucleus, said JPL in Pasadena, Los Angeles.

The selected investigations could reveal much about the formation of our solar system and its dynamic processes, JPL said.

Each mission will receive three million dollars to conduct its mission's concept phase or preliminary design studies and analyses, JPL said in a news release.

After another detailed review in 2012 of the concept studies, NASA will select one to continue development efforts leading up to launch. The selected mission will be cost-capped at 425 million dollars, not including launch vehicle funding, according to JPL.

NASA's Discovery Program requested proposals for spaceflight investigations in June 2010. A panel of NASA and other scientists and engineers reviewed 28 submissions.

"NASA continues to do extraordinary science that is re-writing textbooks," said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. "Missions like these hold great promise to vastly increase our knowledge, extend our reach into the solar system and inspire future generations of explorers."


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