ASPERA3 Mission
Kepler Mission

 Stardust Mission

NASA’s Science Goals

NASA‘s exploration of our solar system is focused on seeking answers to three fundamental science questions:

How did our solar system form and evolve?

Is there life beyond Earth?

What are the hazards to life on Earth?

The Planetary Science Division has translated these important questions into science goals that guide science and research activities:

Explore and observe the objects in the solar system to understand how they formed and evolve.

Advance the understanding of how the chemical and physical processes in our solar system operate, interact and evolve.

Explore and find locations where life could have existed or could exist today.

Improve our understanding of the origin and evolution of life on Earth to guide our search for life elsewhere.

Identify and characterize objects in the solar system that pose threats to Earth, or offer resources for human exploration.


The Discovery Program of innovative missions is one of the major elements of the Planetary Science Division’s strategy to find answers to these questions. Discovery investigations to the inner planets, Earth’s Moon and small bodies include fly-by, orbiter, lander, rover, and sample return missions, each offering a different approach to expand our body of knowledge. Since the Discovery Program was created in 1992, 12 missions have been selected, and 11 have completed development and launched.

Go to NASA’s Science Mission Directorate Science Strategy page to access the 2014 Science Plan and other documents that define NASA’s plans and goals.