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December 6, 2018

JOE PAPPALARDO: This Is The Golden Age Of Space Exploration.

Although our robotic explorers are working millions of miles apart, together they’re pursuing the same central mystery: how did the solar system form? Each probe is providing new hard, forensic evidence for planetary scientists, geologists, and astronomers to form a unified view of Earth’s origins, and how other planets could be home to its abundance of life.

“We’ve had missions all across the solar system…it’s been pretty spectacular,” says Tim Linn, senior space engineer at Lockheed Martin who’s division is running seven missions from its facilities in Colorado.

Talk to the NASA scientists and contractors who built these spacecraft and it becomes clear that it’s a great time to be in the space exploration game.

“If you look back through the history of planetary science, there were a few big missions every so often that did spectacular things, but there were long gaps in between the missions,” says Linn. “There was a pretty big push for the early Mars missions and some Venus missions, and then there was the Pioneer and Voyager spacecraft, but there was not a lot happening in the late 60’s and through the 70’s. Not very much happened in the 80’s, and then not too much happened in the 90’s either.”

But concentrating scientific minds (and government budgets) toward Mars changed everything.

Unexpectedly!