60-Second Science

Next Up For NASA

At a conference last week, NASA administrator Michael Griffin outlined the space agency's next phase of planetary and lunar science research. Steve Mirsky reports.

Podcast Transcript: After its ongoing Mars missions, NASA will concentrate less on the red planet and more on the solar system’s other planets and moons, including our own.  That’s what NASA administrator Mike Griffin told an audience of researchers last week at the 39th Lunar and Planetary Conference in Texas.

The Mars Science Laboratory lands in 2010.  Griffin said that NASA is now planning in earnest for an outer planets flagship mission to Europa, Titan or Ganymede.  Europa and Ganymede are moons of Jupiter.  Titan is a moon of Saturn.

The reorientation of NASA’s planetary exploration programs is in response to a recent National Research Council report card.  The NRC gave NASA an A for its Mars work but only a C for its overall research and analysis program and a dismal D for outer planets efforts.

Griffin also noted that NASA is now planning seven different small and medium class missions to the moon by 2014.  And the Messenger spacecraft goes into orbit around Mercury in 2011.

—Steve Mirsky

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