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NASA Europa Missions, projects and proposals for the 2020s
Roly
post Mar 19 2014, 04:56 AM
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My thanks for your appraisal Mcaplinger, that makes sense, especially if there is no striking advantage in mass (even more so if it is potentially less favourable for mirror c.f. shielding). I do look forward to reading the JUICE materials - and imagine that the camera you proposed for that was extremely interesting, given the quality of the track record.
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TheAnt
post Mar 19 2014, 12:08 PM
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QUOTE (mcaplinger @ Mar 19 2014, 04:32 AM) *
.......too bad they didn't pick our camera sad.gif


What's in a name, the acronym for the JANUS camera is in Latin: "Jovis, Amorum ac Natorum Undique Scrutator."
Jovis mean Jupiter, Scrutator is nearly the same as the English 'Scrutinise' but after that I had to give up to the meaning.
Italian instrument so the name figures to some degree at least. =)

Related link, as for the selection of instruments DLR are happy to be onboard as well. German page.
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JRehling
post Mar 19 2014, 04:30 PM
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Although it pains me to see Europa exploration further delayed, the situation persists that we're still in search of the right mission architecture for the realities of Europa. Some post-Galileo discoveries, mainly based on analysis of Galileo data, have upended what we might have previously thought would make a good next step.

IMO, given the ability to detect plumes, but an incomplete knowledge of their temporal patterns of occurrence makes planning the next mission an absolute non-starter. If the plumes occur at every apojove, that's one reality to plan for. If they occur at 10% of apojoves, with no apparent pattern, that's another reality to plan for. If in a decade we see them only a few times, that's yet another reality. There is no wise mission design for Europa that precedes this sort of knowledge.

JUICE is planned to wrap up its main mission around 2033. If the idea of waiting for that mission to end before planning the next one doesn't make you wince, you're very young and very patient. Maybe recon from Earth-based/orbiting telescopes can allow us to plan pre-JUICE, but that still calls for at least a couple of years of observations and analysis before we can plan the next step.

Maybe the best bet is to time a free-return plume-sampling mission to arrive when JUICE is active and use JUICE's observations to adjust the outbound trajectory to time a fly-through more favorably. I'm not sure, though, if such an option even makes sense in terms of engineering and orbital mechanics.

The analogy I would use is that if exploring Europa is chess, the plumes are the king. We can make plans for mapping and radar, etc., and focus on the rooks and queen, etc., but getting a sample of the plumes back to Earth is checkmate. If we can play for checkmate, we should.
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vjkane
post Mar 19 2014, 11:14 PM
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QUOTE (JRehling @ Mar 19 2014, 09:30 AM) *
The analogy I would use is that if exploring Europa is chess, the plumes are the king. We can make plans for mapping and radar, etc., and focus on the rooks and queen, etc., but getting a sample of the plumes back to Earth is checkmate. If we can play for checkmate, we should.

I rarely disagree with John, but this is one time I will. We don't yet know that the plumes are real. The plume signal was at the edge of detectablity -- much like the measurements of ozone at Mars. Going straight to a sample return mission is premature in my opinion. We don't even have a good idea of particle size or density. If they plumes exist, it does not mean that they are connected to a deep subsurface source -- look at the explanations for the Enceladus plumes that do not require as subsurface ocean. Also, do the plumes occur every orbit or once a decade?

There are excellent reasons for flying a dedicated multi-flyby mission whether or not the plumes exist. The strategy that makes sense to me is a synergistic mission with JUICE. JUICE can do the global studies stand offstudies of the plumes with its UV spectrometer. However, it will be limited to a small number of flybys within a narrow range of Jovian longitudes. A Clipper-like mission can make many flybys and adjust its Jovian encounter longitude to match the peak plume output (assuming it exists).

I don't think that the discovery of plumes requires that the only mission that now makes sense for NASA is a sample return. In my opinion, do global surface studies as already highly prioritized, map the subsurface of the possible plume region to understand the source, include the mass spectrometer that is already a high priority for in situ measurements, and perhaps also include a dust counter and/or dust spectrometer to give us particle size. Once we understand the nature of the plumes and can place their source in context, we can plan an optimal sample return mission.

Ideally, we'd fly the survey mission this decade and if appropriate the sample return mission the next decade. But I don't agree on NASA doing no dedicated Europa mission until JUICE confirms the nature and sources of the plumes.


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TheAnt
post Mar 20 2014, 12:10 AM
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QUOTE (vjkane @ Mar 20 2014, 12:14 AM) *
...We don't yet know that the plumes are real.


Even if they turn out to exist, there could indeed be other explanations, a magnetic field at Europa could for example focus charged particles from the extremely powerful radiation belts around Jupiter at the poles.

Some models that have been presented do take into account possible reservoirs of water encapsulated in the ice sheet on Europa.
A water plume might originate in one such reservoir and so be of less interest, especially in providing any answers for the eventual habitability of Europa.

And indeed Enceladus is a good example for more reasons than that, we should remember how long it took before the final proof arrived in that first blurry backlit image in 2005.
Even though the report on possible water plumes is very interesting, it is quite too early to spin doctor / build a mission to sample any possible plumes from the meagre data we have.

I am all in favour of a mission to Europa, JUICE will take its time to get built and sent there. And we can only hope it will provide the answers to this question as to so many others we have.
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stevesliva
post Mar 21 2014, 03:03 AM
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QUOTE (vjkane @ Mar 19 2014, 06:14 PM) *
Ideally, we'd fly the survey mission this decade and if appropriate the sample return mission the next decade. But I don't agree on NASA doing no dedicated Europa mission until JUICE confirms the nature and sources of the plumes.


Especially because you get situations like Titan. Now that we know a lot more about the surface, we seem no more likely to take another more informed look. And the nature of things is not that you can cache goodwill for forgoing a mission opportunity. You take it.
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JRehling
post Mar 21 2014, 07:11 PM
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It's not that we should plan a sample return, but we should extend at least the techniques used to detect the plumes into a broader survey before a plan.

If further observations find limited or no recurrence of the plume, then a sample return would be either a bad prospect, a risky one, or a complicated one. Still, such observations are of low cost compared to the cost of a mis-designed mission.

Jupiter is passing one season of opposition now. I'm not sure the quality of observations made this year. Hopefully this and/or the next opposition will yield some good follow-up to help pin down the question. So far, we have only two seasons of observations with any data reported, and whatever the cost (and potential ambiguity) of more observations, it's worth observing first, planning second.
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mcaplinger
post Mar 21 2014, 07:48 PM
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http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/europa/sdt2013.cfm has a bunch of reports and other information from the Europa SDT, and is useful background reading if you're interested in Europa mission architectures.


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Disclaimer: This post is based on public information only. Any opinions are my own.
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CryptoEngineer
post Feb 3 2015, 04:49 AM
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The Planetary Society is reporting today that a (non-landing) Europa mission will be funded:

http://www.planetary.org/blogs/casey-dreie...opa-fy2016.html

ce
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gpurcell
post May 9 2015, 02:11 PM
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Looks like a lander of some sort is still a possibility:
http://blog.chron.com/sciguy/2015/05/a-eur...-to-support-it/
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dvandorn
post May 9 2015, 03:33 PM
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QUOTE (gpurcell @ May 9 2015, 09:11 AM) *
Looks like a lander of some sort is still a possibility:
http://blog.chron.com/sciguy/2015/05/a-eur...-to-support-it/


Yep -- that's Adam Steltzner, of MSL landing fame, up there energetically (as always) describing JPL's ideas on building a Europa lander, complete with a melting mole to try and access open water or at least deep ice. Interesting to look at the notes on the board, the flip chart, and the PowerPoint page hung on the board at the far right of the picture.

-the other Doug


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Habukaz
post May 9 2015, 05:27 PM
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QUOTE (gpurcell @ May 9 2015, 04:11 PM) *
Looks like a lander of some sort is still a possibility:
http://blog.chron.com/sciguy/2015/05/a-eur...-to-support-it/


That in itself not new, though. NASA recently (March or earlier) invited ESA to provide a lander to the Europa Clipper.


Edit: changed month


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DEChengst
post May 26 2015, 03:34 PM
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News Conference coming up later today on NASA TV. Time is in EST:

2 p.m., Tuesday, May 26 - NASA News Conference on the Selection of Science Instruments for the Europa Mission (all channels)


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Explorer1
post May 26 2015, 05:51 PM
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Another stream starting here too: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ivHHFoKn2pU
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scalbers
post May 26 2015, 06:52 PM
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Interesting news conference overall on the instruments. Just a passing reference in response to a question about studying a lander. Studies on that are in progress and should be finished later this year.


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