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NASA Gets $75 Million For Europa Mission 135

Posted by Soulskill
from the go-big-or-go-home dept.
astroengine writes "It may not be a lander or an orbiter, but its something. Europa, one of Jupiter's largest moons, has been the focus of much scrutiny over its potential life-bearing qualities. It has an icy crust over a liquid water ocean and now salts have been detected on its surface, suggesting a cycling of nutrients from the surface to the interior. This only amplifies the hypothesis that Europa not only could support basic life, it could support complex life. But how can we find out? The proposed Europa Clipper received interest at NASA HQ last year as it would optimize the science while keeping the mission budget under $2 billion. It would be a spacecraft that will be in orbit around Jupiter, but make multiple flybys of Europa to assess the moon for its habitable qualities. Now, in a bill signed by President Obama and approved by lawmakers, $75 million has been allocated (for the remainder of this fiscal year) for a 'Jupiter Europa mission.' Could it represent the seed money for the Europa Clipper? We'll have to wait and see."
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NASA Gets $75 Million For Europa Mission

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  • Warning (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Animats (122034) on Tuesday April 02, 2013 @02:27PM (#43340239) Homepage

    "All these worlds are yours, except Europa. Attempt no landing there."

  • by Anonymous Coward

    In Before 2001 Space Odyssey References...

    Don't hide the truth NASA...you found a monolith on the moon didn't you?

  • I'm sure that's what Congress spends on office supplies for a year.
    • The bill authorizes: “That $75,000,000 shall be for pre-formulation and/or formulation activities for a mission that meets the science goals outlined for the Jupiter Europa mission in the most recent planetary decadal survey” – H.R. 933, p. 64

      Also, reading the summary [loc.gov], I stumbled across this gem in the bill (now law), funding for "former Soviet Union cooperative threat reduction".
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Europa is tough. It is theorized that there are several kilometers of ice above the liquid oceans. But they could be slushy instead, or who knows. So the first priority is doing a detailed survey to find out where the ocean begins. Once that is known, then ideas like cryobots [wikipedia.org] can be developed to penetrate into it. An orbiter might be able to use very large solar arrays, but an RTG is more likely. For a cryobot, a nuclear reactor will be needed. Both of these will cost billions, so the $75 million is just ho

      • Re:$75 Million huh? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by MightyMartian (840721) on Tuesday April 02, 2013 @03:12PM (#43340805) Journal

        Indeed. We're a long ways away from having the technical know-how to drill through several kilometers of ice (and lets' face it, we really have no idea how thick the ice "crust" may be), either by robot or even manned mission. First things first.

        I think something like Cassini–Huygens is probably the way to go. If I was in charge and had a good budget, I'd probably have two probes; a lander that could attempt some surface measurements, perhaps land near where surface ice is the youngest for possible signs of biological activity, and a seismometer onboard. The other probe would just smash into the moon to try to ring it like a gong to get some good seismic readings that ought to reveal more about the thickness of the ice crust, the depth of the liquid ocean beneath and data on the core. You would also have the main spaceship which could fly around the Jovian system for several years, get some data on some of the other cool Jovian satellites.

        At some point we'll be able to get a probe to the liquid ocean on Europa, but until then we can take some good initial steps like we've done with Titan.

        • Re:$75 Million huh? (Score:5, Informative)

          by hawguy (1600213) on Tuesday April 02, 2013 @04:20PM (#43341629)

          Indeed. We're a long ways away from having the technical know-how to drill through several kilometers of ice (and lets' face it, we really have no idea how thick the ice "crust" may be), either by robot or even manned mission.

          I don't think it's technical know-how so much as the cost to get the drill payload there. Scientists drilled through a kilometer of antarctic ice sheet to explore the lake beneath, so we have the know-how.

          • But even drilling into the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets took considerable effort, and that was with manned crews who could be on site to manage the process. The best we can do right now is have a lander that can drill a few inches into the surface. While I think that might be valuable, particularly as it seems likely that at least some areas of Europa's surface are geologically active (and thus we might get some signature of any complex chemistry going on in the ocean deep underneath), I still think w

            • by Nikker (749551)
              The mission at the Antartic was complex because we were trying to preserve the ice we were digging through (ice cores). Since what ever is being deployed on Europa isn't likely going to be able to bring back core samples the goal of just melting kilometers of ice could possibly as simple as a piece of radioactive material on a rope.
          • by khallow (566160)

            Scientists drilled through a kilometer of antarctic ice sheet to explore the lake beneath, so we have the know-how.

            I'd have to disagree. That drill probably involves tens of tons of metal from the drilling platform to the well shaft to the bits. Now try to drill through a kilometer of ice with at most a few hundred kilograms of stuff for everything.

            If I were doing it, the drill would just be a large piece of plutonium 238 (or maybe some other radioactive isotope with a shorter half life) completely encased with something hardcore chemically inert like platinum or iridium. There'd be a reel of fiber optic playing out

            • Why not a two part probe: half is a broadcast station to relay info home, the other half is a capsule with a spool of wire (fiber, whatever), and RTG, and whatever science tools are feasible.

              The probe lands, splits into two, and the RTG side just sort of melts/sinks its way in with the spool playing out wire to the surface station. Spool has to be on the sinker side because the ice will refreeze on the wire as you go. Don't know how long it would take for it to sink say... 2 kilometers, but assuming it m

              • It may be more expensive to man a 5-year monitoring effort than to build a hotter sinker to speed up the process.

                If I could expand your proposal a bit - once it's past the ice, let the second stage attach to the bottom of the ice sheet and spread out a bunch of antennas, and then drop a third-stage ROV to do the actual exploration. I think that would call for a total of three RTG's, but it would probably be worth the effort for expanded range. The main melting RTG would double as the ROV's power source, s

        • The last version that I read about had them melting through the ice, instead of drilling. The probe would be hot enough to melt its way down, and leave just a wire for communications back to the surface, probably using a super hot radioactive component. It would be much lighter and easier to get there, if only they could get approval to make such a device.
          • I had read about that. I think there are concerns about contamination, not to mention launching a pretty powerful radioactive payload.

            Sigh, things would be a lot easier if we had mining, refining and spaceship/probe assembly plants in orbit.

            • by tehcyder (746570)

              Sigh, things would be a lot easier if we had mining, refining and spaceship/probe assembly plants in orbit.

              Well, yes.

              I love how when it comes to space technology, you get people making breathtakingly sweeping handwaves to get round problems. "It's just engineering". No shit. Just because something's not made of magic and fairy dust doesn't mean it's feasible.

        • by cusco (717999)
          Impactor/penetrators were already developed for Mars (and then cancelled, repeatedly). It should not be all that difficult to adapt the plans for use on Europa. They had seismographs, mineral analysis tools, thermometers, I forget what else, and of course a transponder and antenna that would stick up above the surface so that the signal could be relayed by an orbiter back to Earth.
          • I think getting a good idea of the internal structure of Europa should be the first order of business, and that's where the whole seismograph-impactor idea comes from. Besides, if you can get a probe to smack into Europa at a reasonably decent speed you might be able to get some good spectrographic data from the ice cloud it produces.

        • by whitroth (9367)

          A long way from having the technical knowledge to drill through the ice?

          In space, no one can hear you *sigh*

          Take one small solid fuel strap-on rocket. Strap on small asteroid. Aim, Fire, from space, at orbital velocities.

          *After* you've checked to make sure that you're not right above one of the Europans sub-ice cities, and that the Monolith's not there.....

                            mark

      • Red dragon FLOATs. Send it to europa, along with the clipper. Once on the surface a number of experiments can be done and the data sent to clipper or home.
      • And a CHEAP drilling from red dragon is simply a small heated ball using radiation for heat. Then have a FEW small experiments on board (ph; temp; salt; etc). As it drops, it sends a signal back to dragon that relays it back to home or clipper. Regardless, this would be relatively cheap to do. Note that the dragon could take samples above and do a lot more experiments on the ice/ground that it finds. The ball by sending back the small info would then confirm that it is similar composition or something diffe
      • An orbiter might be able to use very large solar arrays, but an RTG is more likely. For a cryobot, a nuclear reactor will be needed.

        Wouldn't it be possible to generate power from the planet flying through the magnetic field of Jupiter?

  • Fast forward a few billion years to when the sun explodes and everyone is gonna be all over this place for its tourism potential. Invest now, and get in on the ground floor!
  • Why so expensive (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 02, 2013 @02:54PM (#43340587)

    I am a huge fan of NASA and wish the budgets between the Pentagon and NASA were switched...more bombing runs on other planets, less on our own. But why is everythng a $2 billion (before inevitable overruns) project?

    Each planetary mission is somehat different, but it really seems to me that they are re-inventing the wheel every time. What about standardizing on a vehicle platform, with some set instrumentation and a little room for customization if necessary. Make each one substantial enough (RTG's for power) And then start firing these off to Mercury, moons of Jupiter, Saturn, where-ever.

    The launch cost of an Atlas V or Delta IV is somehere in the neighborhood of $150 million, so the other $1.8 billion is for mission development and support?

    SpaceX, here's a tip...get into the science mission hardware game too.

    • I'm sure glad we had the foresight to reinvent the wheel over and over again out of different materials after that first stone one arrived...
      • by Anonymous Coward

        Uh, if Toyota redesigned the Camry every year from they'd go bankrupt. I'm just saying use and reuse a platform over and over agian to save costs. Cassini has been pretty successful, dust off those blueprints and plug in the coordinates for Europa.

        • As mentioned below, the requirements for different missions produce many different variables that require specific redesigns. We also learn a great deal from each mission and improve our methods. The purpose of these missions is to get information on specific topics but it is also to improve our ability to travel in space in general. If your thinking was employed 40 years ago would we have ever moved past Voyager?

          There is no "dust of those blueprints and plug in the coordinates for Europa" The "blu
          • by khallow (566160)

            If your thinking was employed 40 years ago would we have ever moved past Voyager?

            I think we would be well ahead of where we are today because we'd be building infrastructure and doing space exploration instead of one off disposable technology development. To be blunt, the space science and exploration community is profoundly ignorant of economics and that has hurt us a lot.

    • Maybe because it's fucking hard?
      • by Anonymous Coward

        Yes, its effing hard, but they've also been doing it for 40 effing years. Pretty much have that Newtonian physics part down to be able to get these things in orbit around most of the hevaenly bodies in the solar system. The cameras from Cassini are pretty nice, as is the data relay, power gen and so on. So why not re-use the cassin design and plug in new coordinates?

        If NASA keeps developing effing $2 billion projects they won't effing get any money from the effing congress. They don't have the

    • by necro81 (917438)
      Part of the cost is in the lengthy design, development, and testing process. Another huge chunk is the support of the craft during flight. A final huge chunk is the support of the mission once it arrives, and analyzing the data going forward. In other words, you are talking about thousands of man-years of highly skilled labor, which runs $100,000 - $200,000/yr in terms of salary, benefits, overhead, and support staff. $10^5/yr * 10^3 yrs * several gets you up to a decent fraction of a billion dollars in
      • by khallow (566160)

        In other words, you are talking about thousands of man-years of highly skilled labor

        In other words, if we cut a few orders of magnitude off the R&D per vehicle, we'd end up with a much cheaper vehicle. Here's my counter proposal. We put a small team together for a few man-months to man-years, depending on the problem and they put a prototype together.

        It doesn't have to be perfect, just good enough to fit some generous mission constraints.

        Once they're done, we stick it in orbit and see what happens. A few more more man-months to man-years to iron out the difficulties discovered.

    • This is for meetings to select the Top Guys who will look into the challenges and opportunities, work up some papers on various potential solutions to investigate. Not to actually go anywhere yet. Except maybe DC and Florida. Pretty sure there will be some trips to DC and Florida.
    • Even better, make them self assemble from raw materials found in the Solar System.
      • Even better, make them self assemble from raw materials found in the Solar System.

        This is already being done.
        I admit using the rather inefficient organic assemblers is currently slowing the process down a bit.
        Things should speed up once we get the mechanical assemblers working on the problem.

    • But why is everythng a $2 billion (before inevitable overruns) project?

      Because building one-of-a-kind equipment designed to operate for years in extreme environments is hellishly expensive.

      What about standardizing on a vehicle platform, with some set instrumentation and a little room for customization if necessary. Make each one substantial enough (RTG's for power) And then start firing these off to Mercury, moons of Jupiter, Saturn, where-ever.

      That's like taking a submarine and giving it wheels so

      • by cusco (717999)
        SpaceX wants to be the WalMart of surface-to-orbit transport. Fine for those things that you only need WalMart quality for, but sometimes you really do need a 4 meter titanium I-beam.
        • Exactly.

        • by khallow (566160)

          Fine for those things that you only need WalMart quality for,

          Space probes should fall solidly in that category. If you look at most science done in the world, it's not pretty and it sure as hell isn't made of perfect, 4 meter titanium I-beams. I think we'll start seeing some real space science once mission costs drop about two orders of magnitude.

          • by cusco (717999)
            Not at all. An orbiter around Mercury is 80+ percent different than an orbiter for Titan which is probably 90 percent different from a flyby for Pluto. The mission profiles aren't even vaguely similar, the sensing equipment is utterly different, the shielding is different, the power supply is different, you can't even use a common wiring harness or mounting rails.
            • by khallow (566160)

              An orbiter around Mercury is 80+ percent different than an orbiter for Titan which is probably 90 percent different from a flyby for Pluto.

              But an orbiter around Mercury isn't going to be much different from an orbiter around Venus or flyby's of inner system asteroids and sungrazing comets. Similarly, an orbiter for Titan would be useful for all sorts of work around the gas giants. You could send one to Chiron [wikipedia.org] or the Trojan asteroids [wikipedia.org]. And the vehicle for the Pluto flyby could be flying by some of the other notable Kuiper Belt objects [wikipedia.org].

              It doesn't take much imagination to come up with similar missions. It does take a little ambition, planning,

      • Actually, there is very little that is commodity grade hardware with them. They use the same equipment in terms of strength, etc that NASA, L-MART, etc. use. They use the same Al-Li tanks, frames, etc. As far as that go, the dragon and the rest of their system is equal OR BETTER than anything coming our of L-Mart, Boeing, etc. And in fact, it makes perfectly GOOD sense to take the dragon, make a solid bus internally for equipment to hook to, add antenna on the outside, provide various forms of power (sola
        • Actually, there is very little that is commodity grade hardware with them. They use the same equipment in terms of strength, etc that NASA, L-MART, etc. use. They use the same Al-Li tanks, frames, etc

          That's why "commodity" was in quotes - because relative to the rest of the industry, that's what it is. It's not just about materials, but how they're used... better tank designs, mass produced on automated equipment, re-use within the same vehicle of the same components with minor modifications (if any)... e

          • Sigh.
            So, when you have nothing to say intelligently, you resort to trying to put-downs. Okay.
            First off, what engineering issues are there with SpaceX vs. say Ares I or Atlas V?
            One thing that you should realize is that hand production makes for issues with quality. OTOH, mass production on very accurate automated equipment means reproducability.

            Sadly, your own fanbozism is getting in the way of clear thought on this. SpaceX's record is actually not that much different than any others. Yes, they had is
          • Though to be fair, it was L-mart that claimed that 2 orions could go to mars and back. I note that Boeing pushes a new vehicle called the MTV. Basically, their idea of what would be in place of Bigelow's unit.
    • Look up Red Dragon.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    It could be done in a two-stage process. First, find a modest asteroid and send it crashing down into Europa. Then send a probe through the hole the asteroid made in the ice, before the opening re-freezes.
  • direct link (Score:5, Informative)

    by schneidafunk (795759) on Tuesday April 02, 2013 @02:59PM (#43340667)
    Here is the actual link [loc.gov] to the bill (now law):

    "For necessary expenses, not otherwise provided for, in the conduct and support of science research and development activities, including research, development, operations, support, and services; maintenance and repair, facility planning and design; space flight, spacecraft control, and communications activities; program management; personnel and related costs, including uniforms or allowances therefor, as authorized by sections 5901 and 5902 of title 5, United States Code; travel expenses; purchase and hire of passenger motor vehicles; and purchase, lease, charter, maintenance, and operation of mission and administrative aircraft, $5,144,000,000, to remain available until September 30, 2014, of which up to $14,500,000 shall be available for a reimbursable agreement with the Department of Energy for the purpose of re-establishing facilities to produce fuel required for radioisotope thermoelectric generators to enable future missions: Provided, That $75,000,000 shall be for pre-formulation and/or formulation activities for a mission that meets the science goals outlined for the Jupiter Europa mission in the most recent planetary science decadal survey: Provided further, That the formulation and development costs (with development cost as defined under section 30104 of title 51, United States Code) for the James Webb Space Telescope shall not exceed $8,000,000,000: Provided further, That should the individual identified under subsection (c)(2)(E) of section 30104 of title 51, United States Code, as responsible for the James Webb Space Telescope determine that the development cost of the program is likely to exceed that limitation, the individual shall immediately notify the Administrator and the increase shall be treated as if it meets the 30 percent threshold described in subsection (f) of section 30104."
  • Contamination (Score:3, Insightful)

    by hawguy (1600213) on Tuesday April 02, 2013 @03:12PM (#43340799)

    At least they aren't planning on landing (yet).... If there's no life before we land a spacecraft on the Europa, there will be afterwards.

    We should probably become better at sterilizing [nytimes.com] our spacecraft [highbeam.com] before we land one on a moon where water is known to exist, and seed its oceans with earth-based life.

    • by gl4ss (559668)

      At least they aren't planning on landing (yet).... If there's no life before we land a spacecraft on the Europa, there will be afterwards.

      We should probably become better at sterilizing [nytimes.com] our spacecraft [highbeam.com] before we land one on a moon where water is known to exist, and seed its oceans with earth-based life.

      you know, that kind of philosophical statement needs to answer the question why the fuck would that be a problem, what do you know about how they're going to sterilize and do you propose we sterilize this planet first? and how would we know if we have sterilized well enough?

      • It would be a problem because if we go looking for life we'll find the contaminations we brought, and it'll be difficult to tell if life arose on Europa or not.
        As they're not landing I assume they won't be sterilizing the craft at all.
        Why would we sterilize the planet?
        The last question is interesting, we could use the same techniques we plan on using to find life on the planet to see if any show up on the spacecraft, although no matter how good you can do it, the possibility remains that in (some) years tim

      • I wonder if flying the probe between Jupiter and Io would be enough to sterilize the probe? Of course, the radiation and magnetic field might be enough to ruin the probe as well...
  • by sl4shd0rk (755837) on Tuesday April 02, 2013 @03:13PM (#43340809)

    $75 million will buy a little more than 3 F-16 Falcon fighter jets. [af.mil]

    • I don't know what the current numbers are, but at one point we were spending almost on defense as the rest of the world...COMBINED! I think we accounted for 47% of world defense/intel spending.

      • by lgw (121541) on Tuesday April 02, 2013 @05:57PM (#43342623) Journal

        The height of the cold war was a different time. We have far fewer, far older aircraft and ship hulls today. We now spend more than 3x as much in checks sent to the poor and the old (many of whom are not poor) as we do on defense and wars. What most people think of as government spending: freeways, NASA, federal court system, etc, all together is small in comparison.

        Very round numbers in $Trillions:

        2.2 - Mailing checks to old and poor people
        0.7 - Defense and wars
        0.2 - Interest on the debt (at record low interest rates)
        0.5 - Everything else the government does

        The tiny NASA budget is just a glimse into the problem: the federal government is a pension plan with a military, and everything else is a dwindling afterthought. Oh, and let's not forget:

        2.5 - Total federal revenue - no amount of cutting that "everything else" bucket will make this balance.

        • by cusco (717999)
          Your first number, "Mailing checks to old and poor people", completely ignores the fact that most of that comes out of the Social Security Trust Fund, which they PAID INTO IN ADVANCE. They're not taking tax dollars, they're receiving the money that they already earned and which had been deducted from their paychecks during their working lives. The military (calling it 'defense' is ridiculous) is a direct leech on the national revenue, brings in nothing and saves nothing for the future.
          • by lgw (121541)

            Your first number, "Mailing checks to old and poor people", completely ignores the fact that most of that comes out of the Social Security Trust Fund,

            By "most" do you mean "less than 1/3rd, if we pretend there really is a trust fund"?

            There are no marketable securities in the trust fund any more, just an IOU where the money was spent from the Reagan-though-Bush2 presidencies. Any check that social security sends out going forward must be directly funded by taxes or borrowing by the general fund. The young pay the old, a direct transfer from the less-wealthy to the more-wealthy (on average). People seem OK with that.

            But either way, Social Security is onl

        • it is a pension plan because most of the money came from Social Security taxes, etc.
          What is needed is to return our taxes to sanity and make some other cuts, while doing some smart investments.
        • That's why I love Republicans who use the phrase "Non-defense Discretionary Spending" when they're talking about "saving the country from this crushing deficit"
      • by cusco (717999) <brian...bixby@@@gmail...com> on Tuesday April 02, 2013 @06:56PM (#43343047)
        More than the rest of the world. Since we finally retreated from Iraq our spending has gone down slightly and China's has risen we're now 'only' 41 percent. As a percentage of GDP we're only after Israel and the various Arab countries that we sell weapons to defend themselves from Israel. We could reduce our military spending by 80 percent and still be the #1 spender. Reduce it by 70 percent and we're still spending more than China and Russia combined. Keep in mind that doesn't count the (entirely unconstitutional) Black Budget, the alphabet soup of intel agencies, the free weapons we give away, or the mercenaries we are paying. Nor does it count things like the State Department paying Blackwater (or whatever its name is this week) to guard the US embassies worldwide, or the other mercs that are supposed to guard the consulates (like Benghazi) or oil and gas pipelines in Colombia.
      • That stuff is total BS. The truth is that nations like China and Russia do NOT tell their full budget. In addition, it is already known that China is outspending us in terms of buying ability. Hell, even in terms of their % of GDP. And we had 2 wars going when they passed us in 2005.
    • And a lot less than one <a href=http://www.finance.hq.navy.mil/fmb/13pres/APN_BA1-4_BOOK.pdf>F-35 Lightning II fighter jet</a>. They're $107-238 million dollars each, depending on the variant.
  • Ever since I attended a SETI forum and panel of scientists discussing life on other planets, Cynthia Phillips said when looking for life, "go where the water is." And there's lots more water on Europa than on Mars. There are many challenges of a lander, drilling into the ice, launching a submarine, etc. Radiation is intense (until you get into the ice), Europa is much farther away, it hasn't been mapped extensively like Mars, navigation, time delay, etc, etc. But I cannot stop imagining of a submarine cruis
    • I am not a scientist, but I don't get the wank fest with Mars. We can go there and hope to find fossils, or we can go to Europa or Encelaedus [sic] and *maybe* find a live specimen.

      • Well Mars is a lot closer, and better understood.
        • by cusco (717999)
          Also has an atmosphere, which makes landing a lot easier and cheaper, and an average temperature that our equipment can deal with.
          • by Strider- (39683)

            Also has an atmosphere, which makes landing a lot easier and cheaper, and an average temperature that our equipment can deal with.

            Actually, the Martian atmosphere is a huge hinderance, and one of the reasons why so many missions have failed. The fundamental problem is that Mars has just enough atmosphere that you need to deal with it (heat shields, atmospheric entry, etc...) but not enough to actually be useful for anything. This is how you end up with rube-goldbergesque landing systems like what MSL used.

            Landing on a planetary body without an atmosphere is actually much simpler, as you can just do a pure rocket descent. May not be

  • by Ken_g6 (775014) on Tuesday April 02, 2013 @03:44PM (#43341223) Homepage

    - Carolyn Porco

    To get good information on Europa, you really need a lander. You might not even need to drill - organics may flow up from the ocean and get frozen in the crust. But a lander is necessary to get actual samples. In fact, if they send that Curiosity clone they're planning to Europa instead of Mars again, it might get much more interesting results!

    Enceladus, on the other hand, is like Soviet Russia: Because of its geysers, samples go to you.

    • To get good information on Europa, you really need a lander. You might not even need to drill - organics may flow up from the ocean and get frozen in the crust. But a lander is necessary to get actual samples. In fact, if they send that Curiosity clone they're planning to Europa instead of Mars again, it might get much more interesting results!

      There may be some fun 10 meter long ice blades [bbc.co.uk] ("penitentes") on the surface of Europa that would be amazing to see close up (though maybe not so great to land on). Dr Hobley: "We are expecting a band around the equator where it is spiky."

    • To get good information on Europa, you really need a lander.

      But to get the answers the lander designers will need to know before they can design their equipment - you need flybys if not an orbiter. One step at a time, each building on the last.

  • Are the orbital dynamics harder if you orbit Europa?
    • by necro81 (917438) on Tuesday April 02, 2013 @04:07PM (#43341469) Journal
      You need to expend a whole lot more energy to get into Europa orbit compared to just Jupiter orbit. Plus, if you are spending all your time in the orbit of a Galilean satellite, you are spending all your time in Jupiter's radiation belts. As mentioned in the article, this would limit your spacecraft life to perhaps 100 days.
  • Could it represent the seed money for the Europa Clipper?

    It'd be so much cooler if it represented the seed money for a full scale Panther Clipper. [alioth.net]

  • It makes far more sense to send the red dragon. It can do it for a fraction of the price.
  • Make sure they don't turn the lights on. Remember what happened to the Tsien when it landed on Europa.
  • Does putting it in orbit around Europa cost more or something? Wouldn't that be a better solution than making flybys?
  • Pttthhh, I did it on a much smaller budget and got to see Paris, Rome and even Prague!!!!

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