Wired takes a look at all the exciting events and missions in space coming up this year. We can expect some spectacular results from NASA and its probes, but should be on the lookout for China, India, and the private …
Mankind has always expected the heavens to be busy, and 2013 will be no different. We no longer imagine gods and goddesses above us — instead, we shoot our own rockets, people, and probes to populate space.
The coming year looks like it will be an exciting one, with emerging countries’ space agencies as well as private entrepreneurs jumping in. NASA will continue to wrestle with its purpose, but it will also provide some spectacular new missions. And we can always expect some unexpected discoveries and announcements.
Here, we take a look at the new year in space and the missions and events we have to look forward to.
Robots Explore the Solar System
At some point this year, NASA’s incredibly cute and popular Curiosity rover could reach the base of Mount Sharp. This 3-mile-high hill at the center of Gale Crater is the probe’s ultimate goal and the science team is eager to get there. Along the way, it will stop to drill and sample the soil, likely discovering some amazing new things about Mars. But climbing Mount Sharp will allow astronomers to see different layers of rock, which should reveal how and why Mars went from a wet world in the past to the dry one seen today.
Elsewhere in the solar system, NASA’s probes will continue their exemplary exploration. The Juno mission, en route to Jupiter, will make a flyby of Earth to pick up speed in 2013. But other spacecraft might not be so lucky. With its planetary science budget slashed, NASA is not sure it will have sufficient funds to continue the MESSENGER mission around Mercury, which recently spotted ice at the planet’s poles. There are also rumors that the long-running Cassini mission could be on the chopping block. In the meantime, NASA remains most focused on Mars and will begin soliciting proposals for instruments on its new rover, a twin probe to Curiosity.