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Space Missions UPSC NOTE

 Europa Clipper

  • The Europa Clipper mission, a robotic space probe being developed by NASA. 

  • It's scheduled to launch in October 2024 and will embark on a daring mission to explore Jupiter's moon Europa.

  • Europa is one of the most intriguing moons in our solar system. 

  • It's covered in a thick layer of ice, but scientists believe there's a vast ocean of liquid water hidden beneath

  • This ocean could potentially have the ingredients necessary for life as we know it, making Europa a top contender in the search for extraterrestrial life.

  • The Europa Clipper will spend roughly three years orbiting Jupiter and making close flybys of Europa. 

  • During these flybys, the spacecraft will use its sophisticated instruments to study the moon's ice shell, map its composition, and search for signs of plumes erupting from the ocean below.

  • The mission's goals are ambitious, but if successful, the Europa Clipper could revolutionize our understanding of Europa and its potential to harbor life. 

  • It could also pave the way for future missions that could directly explore the Europan ocean, searching for definitive signs of alien life.

Artemis II

  • Artemis II is NASA's next major step on the path to the Moon and beyond.

  • As the first crewed mission of the Artemis program, it promises to be a thrilling chapter in space exploration

  • Currently scheduled for late November 2024, with the exact date still to be determined.

  • Four brave astronauts will embark on this journey, marking the first crewed mission beyond low Earth orbit since Apollo 17 in 1972.

  • The powerful Space Launch System (SLS) rocket will propel the Orion spacecraft carrying the crew towards the Moon.

  • Artemis II will be a lunar flyby mission, meaning the astronauts will slingshot around the Moon without landing, before returning to Earth. 

  • The entire mission is expected to last around 10 days.


  • NASA's upcoming Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover (VIPER) mission. 

  • VIPER is a robotic rover set to launch in late 2024 and land on the Moon's South Pole in November 2024.

  • Its primary mission is to map and analyze water ice deposits in the permanently shadowed craters there.

  • This crucial information will help us understand the origin and distribution of water on the Moon and assess its potential as a resource for future lunar exploration.

Key facts:

  • Launch: Late 2024

  • Landing site: Nobile Region, Moon's South Pole

  • Mission duration: 100 Earth days (covering multiple lunar day-night cycles)

  • Distance goal: 12 miles (20 kilometers)

  • Rover size: Similar to a golf cart (5 ft x 5 ft x 8 ft, 450 kg)

  • Onboard instruments: 3 spectrometers and a 1-meter drill

Lunar Trailblazer and PRIME-1

  • Lunar Trailblazer and PRIME-1 are scheduled to launch in 2024 and will provide valuable insights into different aspects of the Moon

Lunar Trailblazer:

  • Mission type: Small satellite orbiter

  • Primary objective: Map and analyze the distribution and abundance of water ice on the Moon's surface, particularly focusing on the polar regions.

  • Instruments: Two spectrometers specifically designed to detect water ice signatures in infrared wavelengths.

  • Launch date: Scheduled for launch as a secondary payload on the PRIME-1 mission in mid-2024.

  • Orbit: Planned to enter a 100 km (+- 30 km) circular polar orbit around the Moon.

  • Expected results: Lunar Trailblazer will create a comprehensive map of lunar water ice, aiding in resource assessment and future exploration planning.


  • Mission type: Lunar lander with robotic drill

  • Primary objective: Search for evidence of frozen water in permanently shadowed craters near the lunar South Pole.


  • TRIDENT (Regolith and Ice Drill for Exploring New Terrain): An auger drill capable of penetrating up to 1 meter below the lunar surface.

  • MSolo (Mass Spectrometer observing lunar operations): Analyzes the composition of gases released during drilling to confirm the presence of water ice.

  • Launch date: Scheduled for mid-2024.

  • Landing site: Nobile Crater region near the lunar South Pole.

JAXA - ESA’s Hera mission

  • It's a planetary defense mission, not a lunar mission. 

  • Its primary objective is to study a binary asteroid system called Didymos and its moon Dimorphos

  • To learn more about asteroid deflection techniques in case of a potential Earth impact.

  • The mission is still in development, with a planned launch date of October 2024.

  • JAXA is not the lead agency for this mission. 

  • The European Space Agency (ESA) is, and JAXA is contributing the mission's thermal imager and scientific expertise.



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Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam: Space Missions UPSC NOTE
Space Missions UPSC NOTE
Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam
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