Earth, moon, Mars, and Venus: Nelson outlines NASA's roadmap

NASA announced new plans this week to expand the space agency’s focus on addressing climate change on Earth. NASA Administrator Bill Nelson spelled out the plans and the vision, which include two new probes of Venus. 

The Venus missions, called DaVinci and Veritas, will probe our neighboring planet to help us learn how a planet that appears to have started out much like Earth turned into a toxic mess. The idea is to make sure Earth doesn’t go the same path, and to give us insight into how to protect our own planet. 

"Both are aimed to understand how Venus became an inferno-like world capable of melting lead at the surface," said Nelson. 

Meanwhile, NASA also spelled out plans to enhance observation of Earth by launching five integrated satellites. Combined with radar systems, they will measure changes above, below, and on Earth’s surface. The goal is to help us brace for rising sea levels, better manage water and food supplies, and more accurately predict natural hazards like hurricanes. 

The first satellite in this Earth System Observatory is scheduled to launch in January of 2023. 

"We need these investments because storms are getting strong and more destructive, and if we want to mitigate climate change, we’ve got to measure it. And that’s what NASA does," Nelson said. 

Food, experiments, and tardigrades headed to International Space Station

A gleaming new Dragon cargo capsule packed with solar panels, food, and some of the toughest creatures on Earth is headed to the International Space Station after a Thursday afternoon launch from Kennedy Space Center.

In a few months, NASA will launch the James Webb Space Telescope to pick up the light from the first galaxies that formed in the universe. 

The agency will continue to probe Mars for evidence of microbial life.  

NASA is also planning missions to asteroids to help us figure out the possibility of deflecting any future asteroid that could approach Earth. 

Nelson also confirmed the Artemis missions to the moon, and eventually Mars, are still on track. Artemis I, the first uncrewed mission, is scheduled to launch later this year. Nelson confirmed they’re still relying on the Space Launch System rocket to propel those missions. 

That rocket has gone through a number of problems and challenges in development, but Nelson confirmed NASA is sticking with it.

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