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Nuking Europa, Nukes and other 'futuristic' ideas for exploring Europa
SergeyVLazarev
post Dec 5 2005, 07:45 PM
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Hi all! In my opinion, Europa explorer must be cheap and simple.

It must consist of 5 parts - 2 orbiters, 3 small and robust landers, and 3 nuclear and termonuclear bombs. I think that 10 Kt - 100 kt - 1 Mgt sequence is optimal.


First orbiter is robust, high protected from radioactivity, armed device. On high orbite over Europe
With simple and primitive long focused camera, laser-radar. It must to spectacle and record all nuclear explosion parametres.
has also a radio recever from landers.

second orbiter is orbiting low over the Europe. It must to fly over epicenter of nuke and drop lander to measure and see all.
To defend more complex second orbiter from radioactivity rays of nuclear explosion, we struck and explode a nuke in another side of Europe

Why nukes? Because it reveal all. First one, we"ll have a great quake of Europe. And can record all seismic infomation without landers.
next one. we can to melt ice and see a clear water - just hollow in the crust!!!

at 3 rd.

We dont need a special lander. If we can melt great hollow in crust - we'll have a liquid water to catch our lander! We dont need airbags, rockets. Just an robust "lander" like small susmarine!!

4 th. we ll have great cloud of water vapour and ice to take from there any chemical information.
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Decepticon
post Dec 5 2005, 07:51 PM
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Bada BOOM Bada BING ehh!? smile.gif
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dvandorn
post Dec 5 2005, 08:05 PM
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I have to admit, my first reaction to using thermonuclear devices to punch holes in Europa's crust (thereby potentially harming any possible biota within their spheres of destruction) is... well... disgust.

Besides, liquid water wouldn't last for very long up against the vacuum of space that exists at the surface. An ice crust would develop awfully quickly -- you'd still need a way to punch through it with your submarine. Granted, it would be thinner than the natural crust, but it would still propose an obstacle.

Finally, the ice crust seems to be kilometers thick in most places. Just how deep of a hole you think you can dig with a nuclear weapon? Especially one that explodes above the surface? If you want maximum penetration from your nuclear hole, you'll need to bury the weapon about half as deep as the hole you want to make (the "hole" being a spherical void that would be vaporized by the blast and shock effects). That leads you back to ways of drilling or melting down into the crust to place your bomb.

All in all, while it's not the worst idea in the world, I think you'd need to work out all of these details before seriously proposing it...

-the other Doug


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SergeyVLazarev
post Dec 5 2005, 08:06 PM
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not just for for fun, :-) but it can to help in 3 aims:

1. soft landing in water and free way to depths of ocean
2. seismic measurements
3. chemical analises

Some risk of radioactive pollution is not great.
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mike
post Dec 5 2005, 08:12 PM
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Nuclear bombs are complicated. Just use a giant sawblade and cut Europa in half. Then every layer will be exposed indefinitely and everything can be analyzed quite easily. If you really want to, you can also put a giant torch on the probe and melt the moon back together.
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SergeyVLazarev
post Dec 5 2005, 08:19 PM
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I know, that my proposition is sounds like provocation, but is not provocation. :-)

QUOTE
Besides, liquid water wouldn't last for very long up against the vacuum of space that exists at the surface.  An ice crust would develop awfully quickly -- you'd still need a way to punch through it with your submarine.  Granted, it would be thinner than the natural crust, but it would still propose an obstacle.


I dont know how thick may be new ice crust, and you also. :-) thin ice is not a such problem.




QUOTE
Finally, the ice crust seems to be kilometers thick in most places.  Just how deep of a hole you think you can dig with a nuclear weapon?  Especially one that explodes above the surface?


I can place up bombs sequentally. One by one. If crust kilometers thick, in closest 100 years we cant look in that ocean. Just forget this.
If we"ll use bombs to measure thick of ice crust it - its better for us to know that now. and forget europa ocean.


QUOTE
If you want maximum penetration from your nuclear hole, you'll need to bury the weapon about half as deep as the hole you want to make (the "hole" being a spherical void that would be vaporized by the blast and shock effects).  That leads you back to ways of drilling or melting down into the crust to place your bomb.


we can explode bombs one by one. hot water quckly melts ice and weakens its structure.


QUOTE
All in all, while it's not the worst idea in the world, I think you'd need to work out all of these details before seriously proposing it...


I dont know how it serious, but now I cant see another way.
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SergeyVLazarev
post Dec 5 2005, 08:25 PM
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QUOTE (mike @ Dec 5 2005, 11:12 PM)
Nuclear bombs are complicated.  Just use a giant sawblade and cut Europa in half.  Then every layer will be exposed indefinitely and everything can be analyzed quite easily.  If you really want to, you can also put a giant torch on the probe and melt the moon back together.
*



have you read this? :-)

http://ned.ucam.org/~sdh31/misc/destroy.html
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JRehling
post Dec 5 2005, 08:31 PM
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QUOTE (SergeyVLazarev @ Dec 5 2005, 12:06 PM)
not just for for fun, :-) but it can to help in 3 aims:

1. soft landing in water and free way to depths of ocean
2. seismic measurements
3. chemical analises

Some risk of radioactive pollution is not great.
*


You would only get #2.

Liquid water does not exist at zero atmospheric pressure no matter what temperature you make it. Any ice which was vaporized would be gas. Any which was not would be solid. No liquid.

The crust is far too thick for a hydrogen bomb to access the bottom. The crater would have to be about 20 km deep and therefore about 150 km wide. Even the largest Soviet H-bomb tests were far, far smaller than that.

No one would trust chemical analysis performed on a place where a hydrogen bomb had just exploded. You would, to say the least, alter the local chemistry.

I confess, I have thought of this idea before (maybe I read it somewhere else before I thought of it). It doesn't work.
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ljk4-1
post Dec 5 2005, 08:57 PM
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Why use a nuclear bomb, which would literally never get off the ground from the amount of protests ("We're nuking other worlds now too?!"), when a natural space rock directed with a rocket engine would do.

In either event, though, I would prefer not to wipe out any potential life forms on Europa. Scanning the ice crust for organisms may do what we want outside of directly swimming in that alien ocean.


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and feel as if I had done some wrong, and it is hard to forget the ugly circumstance.
I see that such intercourse long continued would make one thoroughly prosaic, hard,
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no sympathy, I go to commune with the rocks, whose hearts are comparatively soft."

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SergeyVLazarev
post Dec 5 2005, 09:01 PM
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QUOTE
The crust is far too thick for a hydrogen bomb to access the bottom. The crater would have to be about 20 km deep and therefore about 150 km wide. Even the largest Soviet H-bomb tests were far, far smaller than that.


thickness of Europa ice is not clear, I know only estimations and speculations on base of Galileo or astronomy observations.
The cheapest way know truth - only one. some quake. :-)



QUOTE
No one would trust chemical analysis performed on a place where a hydrogen bomb had just exploded. You would, to say the least, alter the local chemistry.


yes, we can made all analysis because bomb give us plenty of vapour, until it has a some pressure in cloud an using some kind os spectral analyses to see what throw up a explosion.


QUOTE
I confess, I have thought of this idea before (maybe I read it somewhere else before I thought of it). It doesn't work.


You forgot add IMHO.
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helvick
post Dec 5 2005, 09:03 PM
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Sergey,

Dramatic idea but it is too complex and you'll need a lot more much bigger bombs. No single nuke built to date has the sort of yield you'd need and the 1 megaton crackers they build these days would barely scratch the surface.

LPL's Crater impact calculator gives some handy ballpark figures for the amount of energy you'll need to be able to deliver to blast your way through.

Taking as an example a very small compact cometary fragment (50m diameter) hitting Europa at 45km/sec (probably a bit high as this is cometary velocity range at Mars orbit), the impact energy is ~15 Megatons. Crater diameter is 2.6km+- a km. Depth will be half that at most.
That's about the same energy as that of the highest yielding nuke the US has tested to date - Castle\Bravo at Bikini in 1954 see here. The USSR's Tsar Bomba yielded 50Megatons however that only adds about half a kilometer to the diameter.

The current estimates I've seen range from 10-40km. At best you'd need to deliver five or six Castle\Bravo class nukes with each successive "probe" requiring pretty awesone precision in order to "tunnel" down. If you just shotgun the surface you'll waste the energy, you'd have to deliver them to the bottom of the crater and as Doug pointed out you'd actually have to penetrate the surface in order to excavate any noticable amount.

It would be easier if you simply redirected a suitable comet. Trying out some numbers I reckon you'd need to find a 3km diameter comet. That would create a 60-100km crater that would probably punch through even a 40km Ice sheet. The energy involved is 3.4 million megatons give or take.

However since the point of the exercise would be to find life this would seem a bit silly since it would not only sterilise but would vapourise anything we were looking for.

And the Europans would be mightily upset.
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SergeyVLazarev
post Dec 5 2005, 09:24 PM
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QUOTE
The current estimates I've seen range from 10-40km. At best you'd need to deliver five or six Castle\Bravo class nukes with each successive "probe" requiring pretty awesone precision in order to "tunnel" down. If you just shotgun the surface you'll waste the energy, you'd have to deliver them to the bottom of the crater and as Doug pointed out you'd actually have to penetrate the surface in order to excavate any noticable amount.


I think that ice is not homogene, but mixed with water filled volumes. water practically unpressured liquid and wiil destroy some structure of ice.
Also ice can cracks.
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helvick
post Dec 5 2005, 09:59 PM
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QUOTE (SergeyVLazarev @ Dec 5 2005, 10:24 PM)
I think that ice is not homogene, but mixed with water filled volumes. water practically unpressured liquid and wiil destroy some structure of ice.
Also ice can cracks.
*


Not really. Ice can crack but it's actually a remarkably resilient mineral when you have to deal with it on the scale of mountains. The surface of Europa probably has a structure not dissimilar to Icebergs. The US Navy discovered this when they tested the idea of blowing up Icebergs to test if it was possible to destroy bergs threatening shipping lanes. They came to the conclusion fairly quickly that they'd need much bigger guns and gave up. This pdf about Icebergs closes with this comment:
QUOTE
Both crater blasting and bench blasting have been attempted. The results of this testing suggest that ice is as dificult to blast as typical hard rock, and that therefore the use of explosives for its destruction is impractical.

My emphasis.

Some bright folks have already done some research into this needless to mention. This Lunar and Planetary Institute page shows why they believe the crust is 19-25km deep. Crater formations on Europa demonstrate a morphological change when they exceed +- 30km diameter. Smaller craters follow the usual form expected for impacts into a solid structure, above that diameter something affects the structure and the hypothesis is that it is the crustal depth which would become relevant with craters around 30km diameter for 19km deep crust. That changes the size of my comet excavator a bit, reducing it to 1.25km diameter with a resulting yield of a quarter of a million megatons.

Still 5 orders of magnitude higher than the handful of megatons you proposed. The comet would be neat but since it would weigh ~1.3billion tons and is moving at 45km/sec it would be hard to steer.

Also to return to Doug's point. A surface\air blast will excavate very little. You need to bury your bombs. The first one you could possibly just send in any old how and hope for the best but the subsequent ones would have to come in vertically, that would be require lots of fuel and some very fancy flying.
This document states that approximately 16% of a surface blast goes into cratering\ground shock etc. It also lists some numbers for the destruction depth effects - the maximum depth of destruction for a 9Megaton surface detonation is ~180m.

You really are going to need bigger bombs.
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JRehling
post Dec 5 2005, 10:37 PM
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QUOTE (SergeyVLazarev @ Dec 5 2005, 01:01 PM)
thickness of Europa ice is not clear, I know only estimations and speculations on base of Galileo or astronomy observations.
The cheapest way know truth - only one. some quake. :-)
yes, we can made all analysis because bomb give us plenty of vapour, until it has a some pressure in cloud an using some kind os spectral analyses to see what throw up a explosion.
You forgot add IMHO.
*


I'm not sure where the problems in grammar end and the problems in logic begin here.

I don't know if by "some quake" you mean YOUR idea or any seismological study. Seismological studies are a good idea.

Spectral analysis of a thermonuclear explosion would not tell us which organic compounds existed before they had been incinerated. Someone could type a basic chemistry text into the thread at this point, or you could consult one offline.

This isn't IMHO. My opinion is humble, but these things are fact. The list works a lot better when the posters look up the basics and present each other with the thoughts that come to mind AFTER that.
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SergeyVLazarev
post Dec 6 2005, 09:31 AM
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QUOTE
Not really. Ice can crack but it's actually a remarkably resilient mineral when you have to deal with it on the scale of mountains. The surface of Europa probably has a structure not dissimilar to Icebergs. The US Navy discovered this when they tested the idea of blowing up Icebergs to test if it was possible to destroy bergs threatening shipping lanes. They came to the conclusion fairly quickly that they'd need much bigger guns and gave up. This pdf about Icebergs closes with this comment:


On Earth we have a stone earthcrust.
It's very resilent material.
But, despite all, we have so many weak places - voulcanos, drifts, cracks, caves and hot magma can erupt to surface.
If Europa ice crust similar to the Earth crust - and it must be similar, we can find weak places in Europa, and we can weak them more. :-)
If here, on the Earth, instead magma we have water and low gravity, like on Europa, we'll be can to explore earth inner layers. ;-)


QUOTE
Also to return to Doug's point. A surface\air blast will excavate very little. You need to bury your bombs. The first one you could possibly just send in any old how and hope for the best but the subsequent ones would have to come in vertically, that would be require lots of fuel and some very fancy flying.
This document states that approximately 16% of a surface blast goes into cratering\ground shock etc. It also lists some numbers for the destruction depth effects - the maximum depth of destruction for a 9Megaton surface detonation is ~180m.


Its not a problem. Just dont brake bombs when it will fly to Europe.
50 km\sec of bomb velocity means that in time of ignition and some time after expolosion epicentre of bomb explosion fly past 0.5-1 km.

If we ignite bomb just over surface we get very hot, and very fast moving penetrating plasma ball with high ability to pierce any material in our world.

next point. In last termonukes hydrogene of water began burning, that gave addition yield, and yield of 100-mt class soviet bomb was reduced to half value, to prevent losing of control and BADA-BOOM of ocean water.
So, it very easy to gain to highest yields - we can just burn hydrogene of Europe ice, to achive ten or thousand Gt yields. gigatonns.
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