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NASA Space Science

New Spacecraft Set For Dangerous Jupiter Trip 159

Posted by kdawson
from the by-jove dept.
solaGratia passes along word of the equipping of Juno, the most heavily armored craft ever to be launched to another planet. The launch is scheduled for a year from now. "In a specially filtered cleanroom in Denver, where Juno is being assembled, engineers recently added a unique protective shield around its sensitive electronics. ... 'For the 15 months Juno orbits Jupiter, the spacecraft will have to withstand the equivalent of more than 100 million dental X-rays,' said... Juno's radiation control manager... [The] titanium box — about the size of an SUV's trunk — encloses Juno's command and data handling box..., power and data distribution unit..., and about 20 other electronic assemblies. The whole vault weighs about 200 kilograms (500 pounds)."
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New Spacecraft Set For Dangerous Jupiter Trip

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  • why? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Asaf.Zamir (1053470)
    what's the purpose of its mission?
    • Re:why? (Score:5, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 08, 2010 @02:11AM (#33178490)

      To look for the monolith of course.

    • Re:why? (Score:5, Informative)

      by QuantumG (50515) * <qg@biodome.org> on Sunday August 08, 2010 @02:13AM (#33178496) Homepage Journal

      to study the planet's composition, gravity field, magnetic field, and polar magnetosphere. Juno will also search for clues about how Jupiter formed, including whether the planet has a rocky core, the amount of water present within the deep atmosphere, and how the mass is distributed within the planet. Juno will also study Jupiter's deep winds, which can reach speeds of 600 km/h.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Juno_(spacecraft) [wikipedia.org]

      • but from the story summary, i think the most pressing question would be why the heck does jupiter have millions of dental X-rays?

        • by QuantumG (50515) * <qg@biodome.org> on Sunday August 08, 2010 @03:44AM (#33178780) Homepage Journal

          Fat planet eats too many sweets.

        • If you read the write-up you'll see that later on they say that they are an invisible force field.
          As we all know from sci-fi movies, force fields protect things.
          So, they must have meant to say, millions of denial X-rays, not dental X-rays.

          It's a type'o, simple as that. Either that or someone forgot to rub out the little horizontal bit on the t to turn it into an i, when they were having a little joke with themselves to lighten up the day, working for the man an all.

          • as we know from 2001/ 2010 a space odyssey, enough black monoliths and jupiter will finally ignite and become a second sun. but the question is: what are those black monoliths? and, we finally have our answer: dental x-ray machines, alien dental x-ray machines. that is what inspired pre-homo sapiens species to begin the journey to modern man: the divine inspiration of advanced dental technology

            • Wow, that guy who done the write up must have got a beta version of the SETI at home project that lets you write your own algorithms. Written his own one, and managed to communicate with the aliens that put the invisible, black monoliths around Jupiter. They then must have told him that they were using the force of Dental X-Rays to perform a denial of service attack on Jupiter and ignite it into a second sun as it overloads with the drilling of requests.

              2010 you say, dam shame that NASA's budget got cut, du

              • ... It's a type'o, simple as that. Either that or someone forgot to rub out the little horizontal bit on the t to turn it into an i, when they were having a little joke with themselves to lighten up the day, working for the man an all.

                lol. +1, funny.

                next post. ... we finally have our answer: dental x-ray machines, alien dental x-ray machines. that is what inspired pre-homo sapiens species to begin the journey to modern man: the divine inspiration of advanced dental technology

                LOL. +1, funny.

                next.

                SETI at home

    • Re:why? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by kurokame (1764228) on Sunday August 08, 2010 @02:32AM (#33178574)

      what's the purpose of its mission?

      Wikipedia say:

      The spacecraft will be placed in a polar orbit to study the planet's composition, gravity field, magnetic field, and polar magnetosphere. Juno will also search for clues about how Jupiter formed, including whether the planet has a rocky core, the amount of water present within the deep atmosphere, and how the mass is distributed within the planet. Juno will also study Jupiter's deep winds, which can reach speeds of 600 km/h.

      As to the big "why" as in "why this instead of spending money on something else"...Jupiter is the big laboratory in our solar system. Studying it lets us lets us collect data which will help us study places where terrestrial data alone leaves things a bit fuzzy. It helps us verify the models we're already relying upon. We can make some guesses based solely on what we can observe from Earth - some extremely good guesses. But Jupiter is the big checksum in the sky. Is our understanding of the behavior of the Earth's magnetic field correct? Do our existing models hold up well for a stronger field? Do all these weird patterns we see on the surface of Jupiter and the predictions and assumptions we've made about the forces driving them hold up if we take a lot of new data from a closer vantage point? Are our assumptions about the formation of the solar system valid - and thus most of the assumptions we start with when examining more distant objects?

      If you're the kind of person who can't see the value in something which doesn't directly translate into new gadgets - where do you think the technology in the cell phone (or replacement device) you'll own 20 years from now is going to come from? New technological developments are predicated upon basic scientific research. Sure, you can come up with rocks and fire and a few other nice toys without understanding why they work. Maybe god did it, or a wizard, who knows. But modern technology doesn't really work that way, it's far too complicated. Your computer is based upon a number of scientists and engineers understanding what's going on in terms of quantum mechanics, solid state physics, chemistry...not to mention loads of math. You wouldn't be online to question this without people doing basic scientific research.

      Besides, the best and most human reason to go is because it's there. How could we not?

      • Juno is NASA's newest planned mission to Jupiter. As part of the New Frontiers missions, it will focus on cost-effective research of the planetary giant. The project's costs will not exceed USD $700 million, however, budgetary restrictions have caused the original launch date of June 2009 to be pushed back to August 2011.

        Apparently, that's about the same as the US has spent on the war in Iraq (ignoring all the other countries [including Iraq] and the none-financial costs)

        http://costofwar.com/ [costofwar.com]

        or to put it an

        • Sorry, the cost of war in Iraq (financially to the US alone) is 100 times that of this mission to Jupiter.

          • by stevelinton (4044) <sal@dcs.st-and.ac.uk> on Sunday August 08, 2010 @04:25AM (#33178910) Homepage

            Actually it's 1000 times...

        • Thinking about it, why the hell don't they turn the mission into a Movie (as cost effectively as possible) and then release it to generate a load more review.

          I mean, I sat through penguins standing pretty much in one place for over an hour, and that was one of the best things I've seen.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by sjames (1099)

          You're only off by THREE ORDERS OF MAGNITUDE!

          You must be one of those Hollywood Accountants yourself.

  • SUV's trunk... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Wyatt Earp (1029) on Sunday August 08, 2010 @02:16AM (#33178512)

    An SUV doesn't have a trunk.

    • by Martin Blank (154261) on Sunday August 08, 2010 @02:34AM (#33178584) Journal

      It does when an elephant is driving.

      • by SheeEttin (899897) <sheeettin@gm a i l . c om> on Sunday August 08, 2010 @03:33AM (#33178752) Homepage
        Heh... reminds me of a joke.

        How many elephants can you fit in a Volkswagen Beetle?
        Four. Two in the front, two in the back.

        ...which is the set-up to the real joke:

        How can you tell when there's an elephant in your fridge?
        - There's elephant prints in the butter.
        How can you tell when there's TWO elephants in your fridge?
        - There's two sets of prints in the butter.
        How can you tell when there's THREE elephants in your fridge?
        - The door won't close.
        How can you tell when there's FOUR elephants in your fridge?
        - There's a Volkswagen Beetle in your driveway.

        • by JohnFluxx (413620)

          The joke continues:

          Noah called a meeting for all the animals. Which one didn't come?
          - The elephant - he was in the fridge.

          How do you cross a crocodile infested river?
          - Wait until they are at the Noah's meeting.

    • by JWSmythe (446288)

      You know, I was thinking the same thing. The area commonly called "trunk" is usually under the rear deck of a passenger car, separated from the passenger compartment.

      Then I thought about my car (2000 TransAm). It has what's called a trunk area, but it's under the rear hatch, and doesn't necessarily have a separation to it. There is a removable interior cover, but I'd hardly call it a separator.

      I went looking for a more accurate definition of the "trunk". It's the main car

  • Yeah, al those other moon- mars- and other space-missions where a walk in the park ...

    • Re:dangerous? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Bigjeff5 (1143585) on Sunday August 08, 2010 @03:25AM (#33178730)

      Compared to Jupiter, they were a cakewalk.

      Do you have any idea the forces that are involved? Jupiter's tidal forces are so strong they may warp its moons enough to generate significant amounts of heat inside its moons - moons that are the size of planets (Ganymede is bigger than Mercury, and nearly as big as Mars).

      We're not talking about just orbiting Jupiter either - we've done that before. We're talking going down into low-Jupiter orbit to study it up close and personal like. It's almost 320 times as massive as the Earth, so it's going to be hit with those insane tidal forces. It's also generating incredible amounts of radiation which will easily fry all the electronics on-board.

      I mean, for heaven's sake, they've built it out of 500 pounds of titanium to withstand the radiation and crushing gravity. That's not exactly a heavy metal. They'll be ending the mission by diving it into the surface, and they are not even expect it to survive to the surface with all that protection.

      Really, we've done nothing like it before.

      • It'll be in freefall around the planet even if it is in low-Jupiter orbit, so the only problem will be getting its teeth X-rayed a hundred million times or so. Weightless and happy, it pretty much will only be as complex as any other mission to orbit another planet. That bit about diving it in to the surface though, that'll be a tad on the damaging side like you say.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by sjames (1099)

          The free market can sort this out. Given the crazy costs of healthcare in the U.S. these days it won't be long before the uninsured resort to taking a trip to Jupiter to get their teeth X-rayed. If NASA is really nice, they can probably get them to take the space probes with them, especially if they share gas money.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by photonic (584757)
        Correct me if I am wrong, but I doubt that tidal forces play any role at all for Juno. Tidal forces are caused by the difference of gravity over the extend of an object, which is only significant for planets and moons which have sizes on the order of thousands of kilometers, compared to satellites with a diameter of 10 meters. According to the last formula found here [wikipedia.org], the tidal force is roughly a fraction (diameter / orbit height) of the gravitational force itself. A satellite of 10 meters orbiting at the s
      • by sjames (1099)

        Ahhh, is piece of pie!

  • SUV trunks? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Mr. Freeman (933986) on Sunday August 08, 2010 @02:44AM (#33178604)
    Has the US population degraded to the point that we can't figure out what a square meter is? Do we need to measure volume in terms of SUV trunks?

    I'll forgive people for not being familiar for units of radiation exposure because it's not something that 99% of the population will ever deal with, but how the hell does a dental x-ray put it in perspective? It's not like you can feel an X-ray. (If you can feel radiation then it's way more than enough to kill you, below insta-death levels you're not going to feel a damn thing).

    At least with the size of the thing they gave dimensions in addition to their bullshit comparison, they didn't even bother to mention with real units how much radiation this thing will have to withstand. This serves to do nothing but perpetuate the idiocy growing more and more common in the US today.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by oliverthered (187439)

      I suppose they could have used 2 hours in a microwave or 40 years under a tanning lamp. But then the radiation may well be x-rays (though they say they tested using a gamer ray source).

      It may have been better to put it in terms of how bright the equivalent aura would be if earth had that much radiation in it's atmosphere.

      But the article was written by a dentist who drives an SUV, so I doubt he'd have know about things like that.

    • by loufoque (1400831) on Sunday August 08, 2010 @07:43AM (#33179422)

      Has the US population degraded to the point that we can't figure out what a square meter is? Do we need to measure volume in terms of SUV trunks?

      It seems to have degraded to the point of confusing surface and volume.
      Volume is in cube meters.

    • The US population hasn't degraded. The US population never went metric outside of science classes in school - which is a very small portion of their experience.

      Luckily, I learned linear measurements before the "English System" when I was a child in the 70s and there was a movement to make the US metric. Before it was killed. You know, the metric system is sort of like health care, it spooks conservatives into thinking communism is around the corner.

      I have an intuitive sense of some metric measurement

    • Has the US population degraded to the point that we can't figure out what a square meter is? Do we need to measure volume in terms of SUV trunks?

      Apparently so. Or don't you measure volume in cubic metres any more? :)

    • Would you describe your level of outrage as being five times stubbing your toe or is it more like 0.5 times some idiot double parking you in for half an hour?

  • Dangerous to whom? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by davidwr (791652)

    I'd say any manned mission has a higher risk of fatalities than this one.

  • by R.Mo_Robert (737913) on Sunday August 08, 2010 @03:16AM (#33178700)

    100 million dental X-rays? Can't we use some standard unit, like Libraries of Congress?

  • 'For the 15 months Juno orbits Jupiter, the spacecraft will have to withstand the equivalent of more than 100 million dental X-rays,'

    Nice image. Everybody hates dentists and their evil cancer rays.

    [The] titanium box — about the size of an SUV's trunk — encloses Juno's command and data handling box...

    Everything is better with titanium, and a proper car analogy on top of that.

    The whole vault weighs about 200 kilograms (500 pounds)."

    Metric first, and imperial units as backup. Very nice.

    • by mbone (558574)

      Metric first, and imperial units as backup. Very nice.

      What I like is that the author didn't say

      The whole vault weighs about 200 kilograms (440.92 pounds).

      The key to running "dual stack" on metric / English units is to realize that most of the time you do not have to be too precise in the conversion, as most of the time the original is not very precise either.

  • by jrst (467762) on Sunday August 08, 2010 @03:57AM (#33178820)

    It's uglier than you can imagine.

    IIRC (sorry, it was long ago)... on the Pioneer 10//F 11/G missions Van Allen spec'd the Geiger Tube Telescope for an order-of-magnitude more than expected, and we pegged them. Pioneer suffered significantly--never regained full range on one channel of the IPP (Imaging Photopolarimeter--that thing that made the pretty pictures possible).

    We nearly lost the spacecraft due to some spurious crap/commands during periapsis on Pioneer 10/F. Try dealing with an idiot-savant-brain-damaged-two-year-old throwing a tantrum with ~90-minute round-trip light time at 256-1024bps. It's ugly.

    The running joke was... If you want to be absolutely certain a spacecraft is sterile, just make a flyby of Jupiter. Jupiter's belts are not to be taken lightly. A seriously understated quote from one post-mission presentation "Closest approach: It’s hot in there!"

    It's not just hot, it's a red-hot-poker enema in your electronic guts. That Pioneer 10/11 F/G--the epitome of cheap deep-space exploration--survived those encounters and lived to tell--and did so for many more years still amazes me.

    It is a testament to what we can do, and what deep-space exploration is all about. (So allow me a bit of hubris: Suck eggs Voyager... you had a much bigger budget, you got the press, you got your name in a Star Trek movie, but we were there first. Nah nah nah.)

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by CrashandDie (1114135)

      Van Allen spec'd the Geiger Tube Telescope

      Oh man, I remember that concert, it was just absolutely insane.

    • by Jeprey (1596319) on Sunday August 08, 2010 @04:45AM (#33178974)

      Indeed. The illusion of space safety largely comes from the fact that the space shuttle uses only LEO where radiation is only a bit higher than terrestrial (but still higher) and the gullible fantasies of SciFi stories. Get to a higher orbit or deep space and it's radically higher normal radiation levels. The mission profile of Juno is like the Earth's van Allen belts fully charged. Very nasty.

      Most commercial semiconductor technology is burned up by the high orbit and deep space radiation levels shortly after being powered up - back in the day we tested off-the-shelf Intel processors and SNL clones of the same and the first small 10KRad dose destroyed the Intel processors dead while the clones (designed from scratch for rad hardness) lasted to MRad doses.

      Humans beyond LEO? Don't make me laugh! This is the Achille's Heel of any Mars mission. There is no existing technology that can fix this either. Even the Juno shielding comes at a heavy price: using high Z shielding increases cosmic ray and ion spallation which results in increased total dose that the shielding is nominally trying to reduce - because the process occurs *inside* the shielding material and actually gets worse with Z, it's a trade-off between bad dose levels and really bad dose levels. That's what is alluded to in the article as well. Strictly there is no way to shield down to human-tolerable levels.

      • by JohnFluxx (413620)

        > Strictly there is no way to shield down to human-tolerable levels.

        Lots of shielding?

        The coolest idea that I've seen is to snag a comet as it goes by, and drill our way to the center of that. Then you have several km of sheilding :) Wouldn't that be sufficient?

      • by kurokame (1764228) on Sunday August 08, 2010 @07:17AM (#33179308)

        Deep space is considerably lower in radiative flux than it is when you're near a star for obvious reasons involving decay times and 1/r^2 laws. If it worked like you're saying, the universe would be extremely bright and extremely hot everywhere. In real life, most of it is just empty.

        Also, there's an old trick which pops up in hard SF every now and then. Bury your interstellar ship inside layers of rock or water or both. Get it thick enough and it will shield out damn near anything which you're likely to encounter regardless of where you are or how fast you're going. Of course there are still places you're likely to want to avoid...stellar nurseries are probably not a nice place to be, nor do you want to get too far on the inside of the habitable zone of a star. Stuff like that. But the fun thing about radiation is that you can stop any conceivable level of radiative flux simply by putting enough matter between it and you. So much for "no way" eh?

        As for something as simple as sending a probe to Mars - yes, you have to account for radiation in the design. But it's hardly insurmountable. If somehow it mysteriously happens that nothing else works, you can always fall back to covering the hull in water tanks. Higher fuel cost, but certainly possible.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by mbone (558574)

          While the depth of the atmosphere also helps in shielding, 14 pounds per square inch (or, ten metric tons per square meter), is not a bad first guess for adequate shielding for most of deep space, although it would not nearly be adequate for Jupiter. (Not every part of the spacecraft would require this, but a shielded "safe room" for solar flares would be a very good idea.) Note that the Jovian / Solar Flare radiation is all charged particles (no X or gamma rays), so it might also be possible to do magnetic

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by MartinSchou (1360093)

          Also, there's an old trick which pops up in hard SF every now and then. Bury your interstellar ship inside layers of rock or water or both.

          One advantage to this is waste management.

          Since you'd need to recycle EVERYTHING on an interstellar (or even interplanetary) ship, use the massive radiation to your advantage. Feed the plumbing from all the waste to the outermost layers of the ship, exposing it to as much radiation as possible, thereby killing all bacteria, viruses and other parasites.

          Doing this should a

          • Uh... wouldn't that create irradiated water? Could you even use that water again, once it's been exposed to such high levels of radiation?

            • by mbone (558574)

              Yes. Water irradiates fairly nicely. In the solar system, this "radiation" is actually high energy protons and electron, with a little Helium (AKA Alpha particles) and a smidgen of other stuff. Generally, you would worry about fission byproducts under such radiation. However, you can't fission Hydrogen at all, and you're not likely to encounter energies required to fission Oxygen either, or to make Neon from Oxygen by the Alpha process. You might make a little Tritium, but Tritium decays rapidly.

              It's the he

        • by Alsee (515537)

          But the fun thing about radiation is that you can stop any conceivable level of radiative flux simply by putting enough matter between it and you.

          Not quite true. There is one exotic exception you overlooked... neutrino radiation.

          Even if you used the entire mass of the universe to build a spherical radiation shield around you, it would only block a small fraction of neutrino radiation. Of course on the other hand neutrino radiation is quite harmless unless the radiative flux is insanely high. The only known

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by loufoque (1400831)

        Humans beyond LEO? Don't make me laugh! This is the Achille's Heel of any Mars mission. There is no existing technology that can fix this either.

        Just make a massive ship; its sheer mass would provide enough shielding.

        Obviously, it would have to be built in space. But to make a good enough space or moon base, you'd have to bring fairly massive amounts of material as well. And the only cost-effective ways to do that are propulsion based on nuclear explosions or a space elevator.
        One technology people are afrai

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by DerekLyons (302214)

          And the only cost-effective ways to do that are propulsion based on nuclear explosions or a space elevator. One technology people are afraid of, the other is not ready.

          One technology people are afraid of, two technologies that are not ready.

          Seriously, people treat nuclear pulse production as if were a done deal, but there's been damn little actual engineering work accomplished. Exactly none of the equipment has been tested except in the form a non-nuclear (very small) scale model. Huge questions r

      • Do you have any numbers for this? I thought that it was generally agreed that a Mars mission was survivable using a lightweight spacecraft with little shielding. (maybe a 'storm cellar' shielded room for when a solar flare happens but that's it.) And we're talking a slow Mars mission, using conventional chemical rockets and a many month trip.

        Now, a trip to Jupiter or Neptune...yeah it sounds like the only humans making a trip like that would have to be genetically engineered for higher radiation resistan

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by mbone (558574)

          There has to be shielding, but not every part of the spacecraft has to be shielded. BTW, NASA does monitor radiation exposure to its astronauts, and you can't do a long duration mission to the ISS once you reach your lifetime limit.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Humans beyond LEO?

        well shit, I bet you're the type who thinks the various moon missions were fake as well.

        The moon is beyond LEO.

    • by RichiH (749257)

      > The running joke was... If you want to be absolutely certain a spacecraft is sterile, just make a flyby of Jupiter.

      Finally, someone writes about the _WHY_ of the titanium case. Thanks :)

  • We seem to be made to suffer, it's our lot in life.

  • This radiation will make it hard to ever do direct human exploration of the Jovian moons. The radiation peaks strongly in the equatorial regions, and all 4 Galilean satellites of Jupiter (Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto) have equatorial orbits. An unprotected human on the surface of Europa would be killed by the radiation within minutes (not quite as fast as from the vacuum of space, but still very fast), and so people on Europa would be restricted to moving around in something like tanks, for survival. C

    • by stevelinton (4044)

      If I recall correctly, Callisto is outsaide the main radiation belts and has a much less harsh environment. Another possible target would be a manned base INSIDE Europa, protected by a few km of water and ice.

  • ... am I the only one who read that as "armed" ? :)

    • by AP31R0N (723649)

      Indeed. The probe will have a GAU-8, an array of SA-10s and come with lotus notes installed.

  • And in other news, articles about the Juno spacecraft continue to be plagued by unit conversion errors.

    The whole vault weighs about 200 kilograms (500 pounds).

    Really?!?! Because, the unit conversion for kilograms to pounds is x2.2. 1 kg = 2.2 lbs NOT 2.5 lbs!!!

    For God's sake! The Metric system is not that hard to remember! If you don't know, LOOK IT UP!!!!

  • by bugs2squash (1132591) on Sunday August 08, 2010 @02:08PM (#33181718)
    Is to search for the other Juno that was described here [slashdot.org]. As the first SUV is now several light-library_of_congresses away and could be anywhere within a volume of 10^76 cubic football fields of its projected location.
  • So they've shielded all the electronics, but won't the solar panels get damaged by the radiation?

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