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Space Exploration Highlights in 2023 and Upcoming in 2024


The year 2023 witnessed significant space missions, including NASA’s OSIRIS-REx sample return from an asteroid and India’s Chandrayaan-3 mission. The momentum continues into 2024 with NASA’s upcoming missions under Artemis and Commercial Lunar Payload Services initiatives, focusing on lunar exploration.


GS III: Science and Technology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Upcoming Space Missions in 2024
  2. ISRO’s Space Missions in 2024

Upcoming Space Missions in 2024

Europa Clipper: Unlocking Europa’s Secrets
  • NASA’s mission to explore Jupiter’s moon Europa.
  • Aims to study Europa’s icy shell, surface geology, and subsurface ocean.
  • Investigates the potential habitability of Europa’s ocean for extraterrestrial life.
  • Plans to fly past Europa nearly 50 times to gather data on its features and potential geysers.
Artemis II: Human Return to Lunar Orbit
  • Part of NASA’s Artemis program for human lunar exploration.
  • A crewed lunar mission to orbit the Moon for 10 days.
  • Validates systems for sustained lunar presence.
  • Follows the success of Artemis I, which tested an uncrewed lunar capsule in 2022.
  • Includes the first woman and person of color on a lunar mission.
VIPER: Searching for Lunar Water
  • Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover (VIPER) by NASA.
  • A robot exploring the moon’s south pole to search for volatiles, including water.
  • Vital for future human exploration, as these resources can support lunar habitation.
  • Equipped with batteries, heat pipes, and radiators for extreme lunar conditions.
Lunar Trailblazer and PRIME-1: SIMPLEx Missions
  • NASA’s Small, Innovative Missions for Planetary Exploration (SIMPLEx).
  • Lunar Trailblazer, an orbiter mapping lunar water molecules globally.
  • PRIME-1, a drilling mission testing the kind of drill VIPER will use.
  • Both missions save costs by hitching rides as secondary payloads.
JAXA’s Martian Moon eXploration (MMX) Mission
  • Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) mission to study Mars’ moons.
  • Focuses on Phobos and Deimos to determine their origin.
  • A robotic spacecraft that will spend three years around Mars, observing and collecting samples from Phobos.
ESA’s Hera Mission: Understanding Asteroids
  • European Space Agency (ESA) mission to the Didymos-Dimorphos asteroid system.
  • Follows NASA’s DART mission that tested a planetary defense technique.
  • Hera will study the physical properties of the asteroids, especially Dimorphos, altered by DART’s kinetic impact.

ISRO’s Space Missions in 2024

PSLV-C58 with XPoSat: Advancing X-Ray Polarimetry
  • Objective: Investigate X-ray source polarization in the universe, focusing on pulsars and black hole X-ray binaries.
  • Status: Launched in January 2023 aboard PSLV-C58, marking India’s first X-Ray Polarimeter Satellite.
NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar (NISAR): Earth Observation Collaboration
  • Objective: Dual-frequency synthetic aperture radar for Earth remote sensing, monitoring ecosystems, ice mass, vegetation biomass, and natural hazards.
  • Status: Collaborative mission between NASA and ISRO, contributing to global Earth system insights.
Gaganyaan 1: Human Spaceflight Test
  • Objective: Test flight for India’s Human Spaceflight Programme, involving three crew members.
  • Collaboration: Joint effort by ISRO and Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL).
  • Significance: Crucial step toward realizing manned space exploration capabilities.
Mangalyaan-2 (MOM 2): Advancing Martian Exploration
  • Objective: Study Mars’ surface, atmosphere, and climatic conditions with advanced scientific instruments.
  • Instruments: Equipped with a hyperspectral camera, magnetometer, and radar.
  • Significance: Follows the success of India’s first Mars Orbiter Mission (Mangalyaan).
Shukrayaan-1: India’s Venus Orbiter Mission
  • Objective: Study Venus’ atmosphere during a five-year orbit around the planet.
  • Significance: Marks India’s inaugural exploration mission to Venus.
  • Exploration: Aims to unravel mysteries surrounding Venus, the second planet from the Sun.

-Source: Indian Express

February 2024