Planetary and Lunar Missions Under Consideration

These missions are still in study or definition phases and may undergo significant changes before launch.

[NEAP spacecraft]

Near Earth Asteroid Prospector (NEAP)

Asteroid Rendezvous

Launch Period: 2009 - 2011
Agency: SpaceDev

The Near Earth Asteroid Prospector (NEAP) is a spacecraft being built and operated by a private company, SpaceDev. The NEAP spacecraft will be a hexagonal prism with a mass of roughly 200 kg. Plans for the NEAP mission have not been finalized, but possibilities include a launch as a secondary payload on an Ariane 5 to the asteroid Nereus.

Related Links
NEAP Home Page - SpaceDev
Asteroid Home Page
Asteroid Fact Sheet

ISAS Mercury Orbiter

Mercury Orbiter

Launch Period: August, 2009
Agency: ISAS - Japan

The original plans for an ISAS Mercury Orbiter have been cancelled. There is discussion of a possibility that ISAS would collaborate with ESA on their BepiColombo Mercury mission, possibly providing the Magnetospheric Orbiter and/or other components.

Related Links
BepiColombo - ESA Mercury mission
ISAS Home Page - Japan
Mariner 10 - NASA Mercury mission (1973)
Mercury Home Page

[ESA Mercury Orbiter]


Mercury Orbiter

Launch Period: 2011 - 2012
Agency: ESA - European Space Agency

This mission to Mercury has been given full approval as an ESA cornerstone mission. The mission as now envisioned will consist of two modules. The Mercury Planetary Orbiter (MPO) will perform global remote sensing and radio science investigations. It will be 3-axis stabilized, nadir-pointing, and will orbit at a relatively low altitude. The Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter (MMO) will carry the field, wave, and particle instruments in an eccentric orbit around Mercury. It will be an electromagnetically clean spinning spacecraft. (The Mercury Surface Element (MSE), a lander module which would have performed surface investigations of physical, optical, chemical, and mineralogical properties, has been cancelled. Interplanetary cruise is planned to be powered by a solar-electric propulsion module. The launches will be on two Soyuz-Fregat boosters, one carrying the MPO and one carrying both the MMO and MSE. Colloboration with ISAS (Japan) is being discussed.

Related Links
BepiColombo - More detailed information
ESA BepiColombo Page
ESA Home Page - Italy
Mariner 10 - NASA Mercury mission (1973)
Mercury Home Page


Jupiter Icy Moons Orbiter (JIMO) (Cancelled)

Galilean Satellites Orbiter

Launch Period: Postponed
Agency: NASA

The Jupiter Icy Moons Orbiter (JIMO) has been cancelled. It was a proposed mission to orbit three of the Galilean satellites, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto, which may have subsurface oceans and possibly the ingredients for life. The spacecraft will be launched by a conventional chemical rocket, but once in space will be driven by an ion propulsion system. The system consists of electric thrusters powered by a small nuclear reactor. Ions are propelled out the back of the craft to provide thrust. This system will also be used to place the spacecraft in close orbits about each of the three moons. The mission is still in the early planning stages but has four primary science goals related to the Jovian moons: Study their interior structure, the evolution and current state of their surface and subsurface, their habitability, and how the various components of the Jovian system operate and interact. Possible instrumentation includes a high resolution imager, high power radar systems, laser altimeter, and magnetic field, plasma, and radiation sensors.

Related Links
JIMO Project Home Page
Galilean Satellite Fact Table
Jupiter Home Page

NASA has selected 13 technology organizations to study advanced technologies to fly on the New Millenium Space technology 7 project. Technologies to be studied include aerocapture, on-board autonomous and disturbance reduction systems, and solar sails. For more information, see the August 6 NASA press release.

[Champollion/Deep Space 4 spacecraft]

Champollion / Deep Space 4 (Cancelled)

Comet Rendezvous and Lander

Launch Period: 19 April 2003 (Cancelled)
Agency: NASA

The Champollion / Deep Space 4 mission was cancelled due to budgetary constraints. It was designed to rendezvous and go into orbit about Comet Tempel 1, deploy a lander, and perform in-situ analysis of the comet nucleus. After launch in April 2003 on a Delta II (7925) from Cape Canaveral Air Station the spacecraft was planned to rendezvous with Tempel 1 and go into orbit about the nucleus on 22 April 2006. After four months of orbit at 100 km distance a 100 kg lander would be deployed to soft-land on the comet's surface on 22 August. A one meter long drill would have been used to collect samples of the nucleus, which was to be analyzed on-board with the results transmitted to Earth. The launch mass of the spacecraft, including propellants, was 1051 kg. The lander would also be equipped with cameras, a gas chromatograph/mass spectrometer, an infrared/spectrometer microscope, and a gamma-ray spectrometer for in-situ measurements. Communications would be in X-band via a 1.3 m diameter antenna at 50 kbits/s. A solar array would have provided 10 kW at a distance of 1 AU. Earlier plans to return a sample to Earth in 2010 were no longer part of the mission due to earlier budgetary considerations.

Related Links
Deep Space 4 / Champollion Home Page - JPL
Rosetta Mission - ESA comet rendezvous and lander
Comet Home Page
Comet Fact Sheet

 Chronology of Lunar and Planetary Exploration
 Chronology of Future Missions
 Upcoming Events and Missions
 Other Lunar and Planetary Projects
 Planetary Home Page

[NASA Logo]
Dr. David R. Williams,
NSSDC, Mail Code 690.1
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
Greenbelt, MD 20771

NASA Official: Ed Grayzeck,
Last Updated: 14 June 2010, DRW