ASPERA3 Mission
Kepler Mission

 Stardust Mission

NASA’s Science Goals

The 2010 Science Mission Directorate Science Plan states that NASA’s goal in Planetary Science is to “ascertain the content, origin, and evolution of the solar system, and the potential for life elsewhere.”


NASA missions pursue this goal by seeking answers to fundamental science questions:

What is the inventory of solar system objects and what processes are active in and among them?

How did the Sun’s family of planets, satellites, and minor bodies originate and evolve?

What are the characteristics of the solar system that lead to habitable environments?

How and where could life begin and evolve in the solar system?

What are characteristics of small bodies and planetary environments that pose hazards and/or provide resources?


The Discovery Program of innovative missions is one of the major elements of the Planetary Division’s strategy to find answers to these questions.  Discovery investigations to the inner planets and small bodies include fly-by, orbiter, lander, rover, and sample return missions, each offering a different approach to expand our body of knowledge.

Go to NASA SMD’s Science Strategy page to access documents that define NASA’s plans and goals.