The goal of NASA’s Discovery Program is to provide frequent flight opportunities for high quality, high value, focused, planetary science investigations that can be accomplished under a not-to-exceed cost cap. By conducting a series of planetary science investigations, NASA will provide a mechanism by which pressing questions in planetary science may be addressed, permitting a steady improvement in our understanding of planetary systems and the processes that affect them. The frequent, steady nature of the investigations will ensure a continuing stream of fresh scientific data to the planetary science community, thus helping to maintain the excellence of the U.S. planetary science program and to inspire the next generation of investigators. The Discovery Program strives to:

  • Advance scientific knowledge and exploration of the elements of our Solar System; 
  • Add scientific data, maps, and other products to the Planetary Data System archive for all scientists to access;
  • Announce scientific progress and results in the peer-reviewed literature, popular media, scholastic curricula, and materials that can be used to inspire and motivate students to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics;
  • Expand the pool of well-qualified Principal Investigators and Project Managers for implementation of future missions in Discovery and other programs, through current involvement as Co-Investigators and other team members; and
  • Implement technology advancements proven in related programs.


Missions Supporting this Program


The Discovery Program also selects NASA-funded instruments and participation on missions led by international partners, including: