NASA signals interest in Venus and volcanoes for next science missions

Enlarge / Maat Mons, one of the volcanoes of Venus, in a model created with radar data from the Magellan mission. (credit: NASA/JPL)

NASA scientists must not have had an easy decision this winter as they considered more than a dozen intriguing concepts for Discovery-class missions to explore the Solar System.

But decide they did, selecting four missions for additional study and refinement on Thursday. NASA said the proposals were chosen based on their potential science value and feasibility of development plans, through a competitive peer-review process.

Each of the mission teams will now receive $3 million from NASA to finalize its proposals over a nine-month period. After this, NASA will likely select two missions to proceed into development and toward launch later in the 2020s. Discovery missions have a cost cap of $450 million.

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