New Frontiers

The New Frontiers Program is designed to accomplish focused planetary science investigations, using innovative and efficient management approaches. The Program’s prime objective is to answer unique science questions in the exploration of the Solar System. The New Frontiers Program strives to produce the following outcomes:

  • Advancement in scientific knowledge and exploration of the elements of our solar system and other planetary systems;
  • Addition of scientific data, maps, and other products to the Planetary Data System (PDS) archive for all scientists to access;
  • Announcement of scientific progress and results in the peer-reviewed literature, popular media, scholastic curricula, and materials that can be used to inspires and motivate students to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics;
  • Expansion of the pool of well-qualified PIs and project managers for implementation of future missions in New Frontiers and other programs, through current involvement as Co-Investigators and other team members;
  • Implementation of technology advancement proven in related programs.


Program Approach

New Frontiers investigation proposals are solicited via the Announcement of Opportunity (AO) process. Each mission proposal is led by a principal investigator (PI) who is typically affiliated with a university or research institution. The PI selects team members from industry, small businesses, government laboratories and universities to develop the scientific objectives and instrument payload. The team brings together the skills and expertise needed to carry out a mission from concept development through data analysis. The PI is responsible for the overall success of the project by assuring that cost, schedule and performance objectives are met.

The New Frontiers Program seeks to contain total mission cost and development time and improve performance through the use of validated new technologies, efficient management, and control of design, development and operations costs while maintaining a strong commitment to flight safety.

NASA is committed to the principles of open competition and merit review as a key to excellence. Mission proposals in response to the AO are chosen through an extensive competitive peer review process. Proposals require careful tradeoffs between science and cost to produce investigations with the highest possible science value for the price.

Missions Supporting this Program