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Planetary scientist says: Focus on Europa
ngunn
post Feb 18 2007, 05:03 PM
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I know that NASA currently looks like the only agency that could fly these missions, but this could change. I think we in Europe could be putting more pressure on our governments to step up our efforts in space, and who knows what China will come up with in another 10 years? This should be a global effort, with different technical and philosophical approaches enriching the mix, whilst maximising international co-operation where appropriate. I really think that the high profile of Cassini and its astounding results are changing the public mood. In Europe especially the sheer boldness of the Huygens landing and the novelty of watching live television from Mission Control in Europe (for the first time since Giotto, I think) has opened a few more minds to the possibilities. The laughable Pluto debacle of last year raised public awareness of the outer solar system enormously and will do nothing but good whan it comes to keeping New Horizons in the news. So, viewed narrowly as a NASA budget decision maybe its one moon only for now. But meanwhile, for the other, let's see what we can all do together.
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nprev
post Feb 18 2007, 05:16 PM
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Truly an excellent point, ngunn. Collaborative missions make more sense then ever these days, and Cassini/Huygens set the gold standard for this. Administratively, there should be (if there isn't already) a joint UMSF program planning office for ESA & NASA at least; would be great to include the UK & Russian space agencies & JAXA as well! smile.gif


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Guest_vjkane2000_*
post Feb 18 2007, 09:07 PM
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The Europeans have studied a mission that divides the Europa mission into two craft, a small Europa orbiter and a relay craft. If you expand on that idea, the number of science instruments that must be in Europa orbiter are fairly small -- the altimeter and the subsurface sounding radar come to mind. The second craft could be a very capable Jovian orbiter that does multiple flybies of the moons and could do the high resolution optical and spectral mapping. It could also serve as a relay for the Europan orbiter.

This approach to the mission would be ideal for international cooperation. One nation/set of nations could build one craft and the other the second craft. We could get what Galileo should have been but with modern instruments plus the unique science possible only from Europan orbit.
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Guest_AlexBlackwell_*
post Feb 21 2007, 01:35 AM
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Jupiter's moon Europa should be NASA's next target, says ASU researcher
Public Release: 18-Feb-2007
2007 AAAS Annual Meeting
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Guest_AlexBlackwell_*
post Feb 23 2007, 06:04 PM
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Looking for life on Jupiter's icy moon Europa
By Robert Sanders, Media Relations, UC Berkeley News
22 February 2007
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JRehling
post Feb 23 2007, 09:20 PM
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[...]
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nprev
post Feb 24 2007, 02:56 AM
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QUOTE (JRehling @ Feb 23 2007, 01:20 PM) *
Real Europa PR blitz going on, eh? Must be a decision coming up somewhere or other.


Yeah...seems that way, all right. Has to be in part a reaction to new budget constraints here in the US, not sure if ESA is also getting pinched.

My idea of a Discovery-class mission that could conceivably run the gauntlet: A Jupiter orbiter (recycled, modified NH bus?) with a ridealong semi-hard lander that might have a simple surface imager, but more importantly could determine the conductivity of the local ice. Based on my experience with NOAA, you can learn a tremendous amount about ocean chemistry from measuring this simple property alone; this principle may also apply to Europa. (Better land it on the side opposite the direction of orbital motion, though, in order to minimize Io gunk!) smile.gif


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Jeff7
post Feb 24 2007, 03:01 AM
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I do hope I live to see a lander put on Europa's surface. Even if we can't drill down to find liquid water, just examining some of those reddish deposits could yield some extraordinary information.
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Guest_AlexBlackwell_*
post May 8 2007, 06:50 PM
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For those who may have missed it, there is some interesting supporting documentation available from the "Science rationale and mission strategies for the exploration of Europa and the Jupiter system" workshop held April 23-24, 2007, at the Space Research Institute in Graz, Austria.

See also this site, which gives more information on the ESA-NASA Working Group (ENWG) for the exploration of Europa and the Jovian System.
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volcanopele
post May 8 2007, 06:59 PM
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Interesting.... so their nominal mission scenario is to have a Jovian relay/science orbiter with a Europa orbiter (presumably supplied by NASA) attached at launch... conceivably, in an extended mission for the Jovian relay sat, it could be focused on Io...


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dvandorn
post Jun 8 2007, 03:01 PM
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I only have one basic question, but upon it unfortunately hangs the feasibility of any such mission.

How are you planning on dealing with the intense radiation environment at Io? It's not just a matter of using hardened circuitry -- CCDs in imagers, which have to have a visual path to what they image, will deteriorate quickly at Io. Everything not encased in massive (and I mean that word literally) shielding is going to fail very, very quickly in Ionian orbit.

Another issue is the fact that it takes continual maneuvering to remain in a stable orbit around Io, because of the pulls of Mother Jupiter and sister Galileans. But that's a minor issue compared to the raditation environment issue.

I agree, it sounds like exactly the kind of mission I'd like to see. But I really wonder if we have the technology to pull it off any time in the next 50 years.

-the other Doug


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JRehling
post Jun 8 2007, 08:52 PM
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[...]
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dvandorn
post Jun 8 2007, 08:54 PM
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QUOTE (JRehling @ Jun 8 2007, 03:52 PM) *
I didn't catch anyone (in those documents or on here) suggesting Io *orbit* for the midgame or endgame for the Jupiter orbiter.

I was responding to a post by our new member, 3488, which suggested an Io orbiter/lander combo, with a HiRISE-style camera system on the orbiter. He since deleted his post, which makes mine look like I'm responding to Jason or someone else... *sigh*...

-the other Doug


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djellison
post Jun 8 2007, 09:43 PM
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Yeah - very bad forum conduct that - makes people look like nutters who've replied to nothing - I've PM'd 3488 and asked him to stop doing it.

Cheers

Doug
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Guest_AlexBlackwell_*
post Jun 8 2007, 09:51 PM
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This is a situation where minimal quoting of the post being replied to is helpful, not only for clarity, but also to leave some sort of record of the exchange.
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