What’s next in space in 2023
“This is the first mission that fundamentally focuses on icy moons,” says Mark McCaughrean, senior advisor for science and exploration at ESA. “We now know that these icy moons have very deep water oceans, and they might have the conditions for life to thrive.”
JUICE will map these oceans with radar instruments, but McCaughrean says it will also be able to look for possible biosignatures on the ice surface of Europa, which could be raining down from plumes ejected into space from its ocean. underground.
Later in 2023, ESA is set to see the launch of another major mission: its Euclid telescope, which was upgraded from a Russian rocket to a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket after Russia invaded Ukraine. The telescope will probe the “dark universe”, observing billions of galaxies across a third of the sky to better understand dark matter and dark energy in the cosmos.
In October, NASA is set to launch its own important science mission when Psyche lifts off after a 2022 delay. The spacecraft will head to 16 Psyche, an unusual metal-rich asteroid that has never been seen up close.
A number of other intriguing developments are expected in 2023. NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission is set to return to Earth in September with pieces of an asteroid called Bennu, which could offer new insight into the structure and formation of the solar system. Amazon aims to send the first satellites for Project Kuiper in early 2023, the start of an in-orbit communications network of 3,000 satellites that it hopes will rival SpaceX’s Starlink constellation. And several new rockets are about to be launched, including United Launch Alliance’s Vulcan Centaur rocket (it will carry Astrobotic’s lunar lander and some of Amazon’s satellites) and possibly the large New Glenn rocket from Blue Origin. Both are heavy rockets that could carry many satellites into space.
“There’s a tremendous amount of activity,” says Cowart. “I’m very excited about this year.”
This story is part of MIT Technology Review’s What’s Next series, where we examine industries, trends, and technologies to let you know what to expect in the coming year.