NASA To Name Finalists For Future Solar System Mission

Image Credit: NASA

December 19, 2017 – NASA will announce finalist concepts for a future robotic mission to explore the solar system during a media teleconference at 12 p.m. MST Wednesday, December 20.

The mission, targeted to launch in the mid-2020s, would be the fourth in NASA’s New Frontiers portfolio – a series of cost-capped missions led by a principal investigator. Current New Frontiers missions are New Horizons to Pluto and the Kuiper Belt, Juno at Jupiter, and the OSIRIS-REx asteroid sample return mission, now heading to the asteroid Bennu for arrival in 2018.

Participating in the telecon will be:

  • Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington

  • Jim Green, director of the Planetary Science Division at NASA Headquarters in Washington

  • Curt Niebur, New Frontiers program scientist at at NASA Headquarters

  • Principal investigators of the selected missions

  • The mission concepts were chosen from 12 proposals submitted in May to address top solar system exploration goals, as identified by the planetary science community. Investigations were limited to six mission themes:

  • Comet Surface Sample Return
  • Lunar South Pole-Aitken Basin Sample Return
  • Ocean Worlds (Titan and/or Enceladus)
  • Saturn Probe
  • Trojan Tour and Rendezvous
  • Venus In Situ Explorer
  • The teleconference will be streamed live on NASA’s website.

    To participate in the call, media must email their name and affiliation to Dwayne Brown at by noon December 20. Briefing materials will be posted at 12 p.m. at:

    For more information about NASA’s New Frontiers program: