Moons of our Solar System
Moons of our Solar System

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Moons of our Solar System

Week 8: Moons and the future


What does, or should, the future hold for moons exploration? Here Jess introduces the final week: future exploration, the search for life and the Week 8 quiz.

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So we’re nearly at the end. Last week began by examining past and current missions to the moons of the outer planets: Voyager, Galileo, and Cassini. This week, we’ll turn to the future. We’ll look at up-and-coming missions, some confirmed, others not. We’ll consider the case for renewed human exploration of the Moon and find out about robotic probes to the lakes of Titan and to the Jupiter system.
The New Horizons mission will fly past Pluto in 2015, offering us our first ever glimpse of this dwarf planet and its moons. So if you’re studying this course after the mission goes, we may have some spectacular new images to show you. Then we’ll look at the debate about life in the Solar System, including the important role of moons and what it takes for an environment to be habitable. By this, scientists mean a place where life, however simple, such as microbes, could exist.
We’ll revisit a few of the moons that may offer habitable niches and where there might just be traces of life, or signals of life in the past. That is, if we can send the right kind of space probes to find that out! And finally, there’s the end-of-course test. It has more questions than an end-of-week test, and so it counts more towards your overall score.
Please have a go - it will remind you of the many topics that you’ve encountered in this course. I’ll be back for a final word after the test. Good luck.
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By the end of this week, you should be able to:

  • consider the case for renewed human or robotic exploration of the Moon
  • be aware of some efforts being made to accomplish this
  • understand the debate about life in the Solar System, including the important role of moons
  • be aware of plans for future missions
  • understand what it takes for an environment to be habitable.

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