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The Most Exciting Space Activities of 2024

As 2024 begins, there is a lot to look forward to with the continuation of space exploration missions and new missions planned throughout the year. In fact, 2024 is shaping up to be a huge year for space exploration, from Earth’s surface to the lunar surface, Earth orbit to Mars, and a lot of places in between and beyond. Although the excitement of Artemis II returning people to lunar orbit (July 2024 will mark 55 years since Apollo 11) will be palpable, advanced robotic exploration will help lay the groundwork for future manned exploration of the Moon and help scientists better understand the surfaces of several bodies throughout our Solar System.

One of the most prominent ongoing missions continuing in 2024 is NASA’s 2020 Perseverance rover. NASA begins the year with two rovers on the Martian surface and three orbiting spacecraft. The Perseverance rover has opened new avenues for exploration to scientists and engineers on Earth through its advanced mechanical camera and robotic arm systems, developed by the engineers at Motiv Space Systems. The images captured and samples collected for return to Earth have excited researchers around the world, and Motiv’s robotic system engineering has enabled the continuation of these exciting discoveries.

The path traced by the 2020 Mars Perseverance rover

The path traced by the 2020 Mars Perseverance rover over the first 1000 sols of its mission. The mission continues in 2024, providing scientists on Earth with new insights into the Red Planet through the mechanical and robotic mechanisms developed by Motiv Space Systems. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona.

From the first launch of United Launch Alliance’s Vulcan-Centaur rocket on January 8, carrying Astrobotic’s Peregrine lander as the first CLPS mission, the launch pads at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Vandenberg Space Force Base, and around the world will be launching some very exciting missions in 2024. Several of these launches will be manned or support manned exploration, including Artemis II and continued support to the ISS with Boeing’s CST-100 flight test and Sierra Nevada Space’s Dream Chaser demonstration.

Among the missions beyond Earth will be JPL’s CADRE mission, which will demonstrate the ability for a trio of robots to work autonomously, mapping the region under the lunar regolith utilizing a distributed network, and paving the way for future robotic exploration on the Moon and beyond. Motiv has played a key role in the development of the CADRE mission architecture, including the development of the hardware mechanisms that will deploy the rovers and enable them to make their measurements.

Side-by-side comparison of the “NASA-JPL’s CADRE

NASA-JPL’s CADRE mission will demonstrate autonomous robotic exploration on the Moon utilizing hardware architecture and systems developed by Motiv Space Systems. Credit: Motiv Space Systems.

Space enthusiasts from around the world will be traveling to North America in April to experience the total solar eclipse as it passes across the continent from Mexico’s Pacific coast to the Atlantic coast at Newfoundland, Canada. Through the rest of the year, multiple missions will be launched by space agencies around the world to the Moon, both to orbit and land. Ongoing missions traveling beyond cislunar space will pass by Mercury and other planets, while new missions will be launched to Mars.

Many of the exciting missions of 2024 will utilize Motiv’s robotic and mechanical systems to provide not only exploration for researchers on Earth, but also to explore how these systems can be employed to reduce the requirements on future astronauts, freeing them for other tasks. The partnerships between NASA and private enterprises like Motiv continue to enhance the space agency’s ability to explore Earth orbit and beyond, while providing demonstrations of these systems to show how they may be employed by other commercial entities.

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