Re-Think Planetary Exploration Plans, Advisory Group Urges

An advisory group to NASA urges the space agency to re-think its planetary exploration agenda, particularly how best to probe Europa for possible evidence of an ocean and advance Mars science investigations. The group also advises NASA to stay-the-course and fly the now-cancelled New Horizons mission to explore Pluto and Kuiper Belt objects. In a March 31 letter to NASA officials, the Solar System Exploration Subcommittee (SSES) of the Space Science Advisory Committee (SscAC) reviewed the overall health of the space agency’s present and future planetary plans. The SSES membership is comprised of leading space scientists and is chaired by Michael Drake, head of the University of Arizona’s Lunar and Planetary Laboratory in Tucson. Drake authored the letter to NASA, spelling out the advisory group’s views.