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NASA Picks 4 Studies for Solar System Exploration Effort

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NASA has chosen four initial scientific studies for the agency’s Discovery Program focused on furthering human understanding of the solar system.

The agency said Friday it will allocate $3 million for each of the four studies that will run through a nine-month period and select a maximum of two concepts to become official missions in 2021.

The first study is called the “Deep Atmosphere Venus Investigation of Noble gases, Chemistry, and Imaging Plus” and will focus on exploring the origins of Venus’ atmosphere. The second study, led by the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, is called “Io Volcano Observer” and will revolve around phenomena on Jupiter's moon Io.

The third concept, TRIDENT, involves exploratory studies of Neptune’s icy moon Trident. The final study is named “Venus Emissivity, Radio Science, InSAR, Topography, and Spectroscopy” and will revolve around mapping Venus’ surface to study its geologic history.

“These selected missions have the potential to transform our understanding of some of the solar system’s most active and complex worlds,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of the NASA Science Mission Directorate. “Exploring any one of these celestial bodies will help unlock the secrets of how it, and others like it, came to be in the cosmos.”