NASA has chosen two proposed space exploration concepts as finalists forÂ a robotic mission scheduled to launch in the mid-2020s.
The space agency said Thursday it will fund the concept development of the finalists, which include a comet sample return mission and a rotorcraft that would seek potential landing sites on Saturn’s moon, Titan.
NASA selected the concepts following a competitive peer review ofÂ 12 proposals submitted in April through the agency’sÂ New Frontiers program.
TheÂ Comet Astrobiology Exploration Sample Return mission, or CAESAR, aims to collect a sample from the 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko comet to help define its origin and history.
CAESAR is led byÂ Steve Squyres of Cornell University and would be managed byÂ NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.
The second concept is theÂ Dragonfly drone-like rotorcraft that would study the prebiotic chemistry and habitability of multiple sites on Saturn’s largest moon Titan.
Elizabeth Turtle of the Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Laboratory will serve as lead investigator of Dragonfly and APL will provideÂ project management for the mission.
NASA plans to fund the concept development ofÂ CAESAR and Dragonfly through the end of 2018, then select one mission in 2019 to move to the next program phases.
The winning concept will be the fourth mission under the New Frontiers program, which fundsÂ principal investigator-led planetary science explorations that cost only up to $850 million to develop.