Ever since Aldrin and Armstrong landed on the Moon, planted the Stars And Stripes upon it’s dusty surface and declared that this was ‘one small step for man, but a giant leap for mankind.’ The Human Race has stepped a little bit off space. Of course, we are still infatuated with the Sun, Moon, Stars and Space – but we seem to have stepped back a bit. Ever since the USA beat the Russians to the Moon, the hype seemed to have died down, and a generation that was obsessed with what lies beyond the stars seems to have relaxed a little bit.

Not according to NASA though. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration declare on their website that they are not done with space. After a successful mission with the Curiosity Mars Rover to map the surface of the red planet situated next to Planet Earth, NASA wants more. With a fair few missions planned, what’s next for our race and our exploration of space? With people like Cranfield Aerospace developing the next generation of aerospace and space exploration prototypes and products, as well as the brains over at NASA shooting off into the stars, space exploration is far away from being over.

What next then? Well – code-name Juno is the planned mission to explore Jupiter – the biggest planet in our solar system. Currently, the Juno team have completed their fifth flyby of Jupiter. These unmanned flybys allow data to be collected and photographs to be taken of Jupiter’s atmosphere. What has been gathered thus far? Well, thanks to Juno, we know that Jupiter has intense magnetic fields that are complicating the minds of even the people at NASA. Juno has revealed that Jupiter’s swirling environment is complicated and it is this data that will help us know if it is safe, or even possible, for NASA to attempt to land a drone and eventually a person onto the planet.

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It gets a lot more extreme than the Juno mission though. NASA’s New Frontiers mission is undergoing a huge review and will choose a destination within the next two years with a flight set to launch within the next decade. This mission is huge and will more than likely discover the next Solar System – an extremely interesting and scary proposition for us. There are 12 proposals on board for the program that will push the frontiers of what we know. The concept for the mission will be chosen in November, and following this, the mission will be selected. The themes of these missions? Well, Nasa wants to send a probe to Saturn and its moons before extending beyond Pluto. This could be amazing.

Space, the final frontier? Who knows – but in the next decade we will know a lot more about the far reaches of our solar system and what lies beyond. It is a lot to process, but this is an incredible development and we’ve come so far from landing on the moon – let’s hope that the world can develop a new interest in space exploration.