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Your task is the following: You are being asked to head up a government agency separate from NASA that will visit a place in the solar system other than Earth’s Moon. Though you will have to work closely with NASA to accomplish this, and though you are being trusted completely with the specifics of where and how and why, the relevant Congressional committees want some information from you. Your specific assignment is:
What particular solar system body will you choose to visit? It can be a planet, a moon, asteroid, dwarf planet, far-flung region, etc.
What is the goal? Why go there? Is it exploration–because you think it would be valuable to know more about that particular body, or perhaps exploitation–because you think that a particular body will have resources that human civilization needs? Are you looking for life–as we know, or perhaps not as we know it? Communication with aliens? Something else?
What is the projected “product” or “result” of the visit? Will it be advances in technology because it’s so difficult to accomplish (think lack of atmosphere, presence of radiation, extreme cold, extreme distance, harshness of environment, etc.)? Will it be a permanent base of operations for humanity to take further steps out into the universe? Will it be new observation posts–telescopes to be used to peer even deeper (and much more clearly!) into the cosmos? Perhaps it will be educational materials like a documentary (think of your friends back at the Science for Everyone Media Company Corporation, Inc.) to inspire the next generation? Maybe a new base from which to scan for signals from alien civilizations (and send some message back)? Perhaps a mix of these, or all of these?
Please keep in mind, as you make decisions and describe your proposal to this Congressional committee that there is no right or wrong choice for your proposal–it’s just what you would choose to do and accomplish, if you had to make the choices and lead a project like this. This is about thinking about the wonders of our solar system that you find intriguing.