NASA has a lot in store for space explorations in 2017. Interplanetary missions to Mars, Jupiter and Saturn, developing technologies to continue the search for alien life and more. Here are some missions space enthusiasts must look out for in NASA 2017 launch schedule.
Cygnus CRS OA-8E
Cygnus is extending its missions beyond original contract with NASA. This would be the ninth flight of the unmanned spacecraft, Cygnus and the fifth of the enhanced sized Cygnus PCM. Its mission is to bring supplies in the International Space Station with expected launch date of July 6, 2017.
Cassini Entry To Saturn
This is actually not a launch but more of a landing of one of NASA's spacecraft to Saturn. Cassini, which was launched by NASA on Oct. 15, 1997 is finally entering Saturn's atmosphere on Sept. 15, 2017 after a fly-by on Titan. It is one of the most awaited NASA missions on 2017 with promise of discovering alien life. It is expected to be destroyed, thus ending its mission, after entering Saturn.
Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS)
NASA plans on launching a new space telescope for observing exoplanets using the transit method. The primary mission of TESS is to investigate the brightest stars near the Earth for over a two-year period according to NASA. It will use a wide array of cameras to do a full-scale survey on the stars. Using the TESS, it would be possible to identify primary characteristics of the exoplanets like mass, size and possible habitable zones.
The TESS will provide information on what planets the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) should investigate following its launch on 2018. The JWST, about 100 times bigger than the Hubble telescope will aim to discover alien life on exoplanets. TESS is scheduled for a launch via SpaceX Falcon 9 Full Thrust rocket from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in December 2017.
Aside from these NASA 2017 launch schedules, NASA will also monitor the total solar eclipse in August. The agency also plans to widen its study in climate change research according to Huffington Post. This year, it launched new missions to track sea levels via Satellite. NASA plans to install two Earth-observing instruments -- one to track lightning and another one to monitor the ozone layer on the International Space Station next year.