They re either deep explorations of the familiar—STEREO s focus on the sun, the International Space Station s study of what microgravity does to the human body—or a trip to some crazy place no one has ever seen before.
But still, any strange, distant object the agency targets will likely hold some clue about the origins of life.
Humans are spacefaring narcissists that way.
NASA s newly announced Lucy and Psyche missions fall squarely into the second category.
The robotic missions, planned to launch in 2021 and 2023 respectively, are set to target mysterious, unstudied asteroids.
Lucy will follow NASA s Juno mission out to Jupiter to study the Trojan asteroids orbiting with the gas giant, and Psyche will visit an odd metal asteroid, 16 Psyche, in the main asteroid belt—the only object of its kind in our solar system.