Deep space research is a branch of astronomy, space sciences and astronautics which involves studying the far distant areas of outer space in an effort to detect life. But there is very little agreement on the meaning of ‘distant’ space. In some scientific contexts, it may be used to mean ‘unvisited’, whereas in others it is used to mean ‘farspace’.
A major component of NASA’s manned space flight program is the moon-orbit rendezvous or MAST, which is designed to test technologies needed for a moon base or astronauts’ stay in deep space. Another program of NASA is the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (lander) which is specifically designed to study and photograph various lunar surface areas. The European Space Agency has a program called the Ex-situ, which involves two satellites, namely the EST (European Space Agency) and PRO (Planetary Science Institute) which are designed to examine the asteroid belt, and other Near Earth Asteroids. Of all such missions, the most promising and potentially successful is the MAST project. Amongst all the space research programs, MAST is the only one which uses a fleet of aircraft to achieve its mission, which is to study and chart space debris in our vicinity and search out and chart comets and planets orbiting around other stars. The cost of this program is reported to be about $3 billion, which is a huge investment when you compare it with the other research programs.
The recent announcement of a probe, which will go into space around Jupiter is being considered by many to be a great achievement in the study of space and science in general. One hopes that it will yield exciting results and make people really sit up and take notice. The cost involved, i.e. the fuel and the postage, make it a very difficult proposition indeed. If you think about it, the price we pay for studying the deep space, and extrasolar planets and asteroids, are very little when compared to the total budget required to send astronauts to the moon, launch probes to Mars and to build the facilities to enable us to find and identify near earth objects within our solar system.