Then send it to NASA. The space agency announced an opportunity for PI-led space investigations for its New Frontier program. One of NASA's strategic goals is to "advance scientific knowledge of the origin and history of the solar system, the potential for life elsewhere, and the hazards and resources present as humans explore space." To that end, the NASA Science Mission Directorate is conducting a program of planetary science to answer the following questions:
• How did the Sun’s family of planets and minor bodies originate?The program will also address the following research objectives:
• How did the solar system evolve to its current diverse state?
• What are the characteristics of the solar system that lead to the origin of life?
• How did life begin and evolve on Earth and has it evolved elsewhere in the solar system?
• What are the hazards and resources in the solar system environment that will affect the extension of human presence in space?
• Understand the processes that determine the history and future of habitability in the solar system, including the origin and evolution of Earth’s biosphere and the character and extent of prebiotic chemistry on Mars and other worlds.Lest you think NASA is going to consider all harebrained ideas, hold on to your tool bags, astronauts: the proposals must address one of eight mission concepts:
• Identify and investigate past or present habitable environments on Mars and other worlds, and determine if there is or ever has been life elsewhere in the solar system.
• Explore the space environment to discover potential hazards to humans and to search for resources that would enable human presence.
(1) samples of ancient materials from the moon's South Pole-Aitken basin
(2) exploration of the surface and lower atmosphere of Venus
(3) detailed study of comet surface samples (which could help in understanding the physical condition and constituents of the very early solar system, including the early history of water and the biogenic elements and the compounds containing them)
(4) definitively determine the nature of a planet’s interior using a globally distributed seismic network
(5) Trojan/Centaur reconnaissance
(6) asteroid rover/sample return (a different mission from #3)
(7) study tidal heating, volcanism and other fundamental geological processes such as mountain-building and masswasting on Io
(8) use Ganymede, Jupiter's largest moon and an icy satellite, to understand the generation of magnetic field (Ganymede is the only icy body in the solar system known to generate its own magnetic field)
Keep in mind that this is only a draft Announcement of Opportunity; comments are due Jan. 5, 2009. A final AO version should be released in February 2009, and NASA targets a launch date no later than December 2018.