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NASA Space

NASA Wants To Go To Europa 216

Posted by samzenpus
from the just-down-the-road dept.
MightyMartian writes "'NASA and the White House are asking Congress to bankroll a new intrastellar road trip to a destination that's sort of like the extraterrestrial Atlantis of our solar system — Jupiter's intriguing moon, Europa.' Since Europa seems one of the most likely worlds in the Solar System other than Earth where we have some hope of finding extant life, let's hope Congress gives the green light to this project."
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NASA Wants To Go To Europa

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  • by jellomizer (103300) on Thursday March 06, 2014 @06:44AM (#46417419)

    "All These Worlds Are Yours Except Europa. Attempt No Landing There. Use Them Together. Use Them in Peace."

    • by hcs_$reboot (1536101) on Thursday March 06, 2014 @07:09AM (#46417541)
      Europe discovered America and now, a few years letters, America wants to discover Europa. They must be subconsciously influenced by the mother continent name from which they originated.
      • by dreamchaser (49529) on Thursday March 06, 2014 @08:40AM (#46417841) Homepage Journal

        Europe discovered America and now, a few years letters, America wants to discover Europa. They must be subconsciously influenced by the mother continent name from which they originated.

        That is going to be quite a surprise to the ancestors of the Asian tribes that actually were the first to settle the Americas ;)

        • by GameboyRMH (1153867) <gameboyrmh@[ ]il.com ['gma' in gap]> on Thursday March 06, 2014 @09:01AM (#46417943) Journal

          Definition of "discover," according to history:

          Discover (verb): To be found by a white person

          • by dargaud (518470)
            It's more like "Discover (verb): To let EVERYONE know about it.". So even though several waves of Asian populations, the Vikings, the Oceanians and most likely the Basque got there first, the better braggers were the white.
            • by avgjoe62 (558860)
              The first person to write it down - in other words, history is told by those that wrote the book - is the "Discoverer", because when people two hundred years later wonder who 'discovered" this place, they go look in a book.
              • Yeah, if only aboriginal Americans had written it down before the European invasion.

                http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M... [wikipedia.org]

                Oh.

                History is written by the victors, not the literate.

                • by dargaud (518470)
                  Yeah, when I learned of the wholesale destruction of _all_ the Mayan codices [wikipedia.org] by a catholic bishop, I wanted to raze the Vatican to the ground. They not only conquered the land and committed genocide but they also wipe out all traces of literacy. I really wonder what _more_ you could do to a people.
                  • by mmell (832646)
                    Not unlike the destruction of those mountain-statues (in Afghanistan? Pakistan? Can't remember which nation destroyed them because they were an "insult to Islam", somebody help me here). Can we raze all the nations whose name ends in 'stan'?

                    The takeaway point I'm trying to make is that two wrongs don't make a right. Three lefts do.

            • by GodfatherofSoul (174979) on Thursday March 06, 2014 @12:18PM (#46419739)

              There's strong evidence African sailors found South America as well. But, if your culture doesn't have a good record recording your discovery, you don't get to name it.

              • That's how we define what is called "history". If it happened before writing existed, it's not part of history.

                Although, to be fair, Catholic missionaries destroyed a lot of written records [wikipedia.org] from pre-Columbian America. They literally deleted Inca history.

        • by Shadowmist (57488)

          Europe discovered America and now, a few years letters, America wants to discover Europa. They must be subconsciously influenced by the mother continent name from which they originated.

          That is going to be quite a surprise to the ancestors of the Asian tribes that actually were the first to settle the Americas ;)

          It was.

      • When I first read the title, I assumed that Samzenpus' "A" key was malfunctioning. My first thought was "I thought they were ALREADY there, what was Merkel complaining about if not that?"
      • by antdude (79039)

        A few years letters? :P

    • Yeah - Send the Chinese.
    • by Quila (201335)

      I would have been disappointed had this not been the first post.

    • by sconeu (64226)

      Except that in the oriignal novel, the message is. "ALL THESE WORLDS ARE YOURS EXCEPT EUROPA. ATTEMPT NO LANDINGS THERE."

      Of course, in the novel, there was no stupid Cold War subplot, either.

    • by Foo2rama (755806)
      Is it me or does everyone fail to think it is a reference to something other then 2010....
  • by K. S. Kyosuke (729550) on Thursday March 06, 2014 @06:46AM (#46417435)
    Sounds hot!
  • But its buried beneath 100 miles of ice. If they're expecting to find some trace of life in some trace of water vapour that may or may not have been ejected near where the probe lands in the few days before any DNA or proteins would be destroyed by the hard vacuum and radiation then I think its wishful thinking at best. At worst a waste of multi billion dollars when it could be spent on other more fruitful missions. Another probe to Titan that could travel around and examine the lakes and atmosphere would b

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      It would seem foolish to me to launch a big expensive search for life anywhere without first scouting the place with a small, cheap probe.

      • by mmell (832646)
        There is no such thing as a "small, cheap" probe when we're talking about an object as distant as Europa. I won't even mention the added difficulties that orbital mechanics brings to the equation when we're talking about a planetary satellite instead of a planet.

        Small - sure. Matter of fact, all space missions strive for "small". Cheap - even the "cheap" Mars rovers weren't exactly cheap.

    • by StripedCow (776465) on Thursday March 06, 2014 @07:08AM (#46417539)

      At worst a waste of multi billion dollars when it could be spent on other more fruitful missions.

      Here's another idea: why don't we fork science?
      One half of science we let believe that there is life on Europa.
      The other half of science we let believe that there isn't.

      Both halves can proceed with their work, without spending even a dollar!

    • the fact that water if regularly venting to the surface means that there are likely very thin areas of ice that can be utilised. Even on our planet life exists in very, VERY hot water that until recently we thought that life had no chance there. NASA had spent billions of dollars sending landers to Mars, a dusty boring planet. Once ok. Over and over.... a compete wase of money. Europa = a good chance we could actually find real living life. Way move exciting than Mars could ever be.
      • by Viol8 (599362) on Thursday March 06, 2014 @07:32AM (#46417613)

        "the fact that water if regularly venting to the surface means that there are likely very thin areas of ice that can be utilised."

        Unlikely. Its nothing more than melt water from fairly shallow movements in the ice. It certainly won't be anything recent from the deep ocean. The ice may well turn over in geological time but by then any life inside will have long since decomposed into amino acids or whatever precursor its made from. And thats not going to tell us much about whats down there.

      • And besides, this may our last chance to get to Europa before the hordes of Chinese tourists.

      • by MBGMorden (803437)

        Even on our planet life exists in very, VERY hot water that until recently we thought that life had no chance there

        Yes, but its easier for life to exist in more normal environments and very slowly evolve into something suited to those extreme environments. Life springing up from scratch and then sustaining itself in an extreme environment would be much harder.

        • True, life starting as an extremophile might be hard. But starting life is likely to be hard no matter what and billions of years gives you plenty of time to randomly futz around until you get organized enough to replicate (sound familiar?).

          Besides, 10 miles under the surface might well be a tropical paradise.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 06, 2014 @07:39AM (#46417631)

      We have a mission.

      Then another one that lands and tries some new water fueling technology whatever it may be: for fuel cells and hydrogen fuel or something.

      Then it's developed further so not only is Europa a moon for exploration but also a fueling stop.

      And I also dream of the day when we can say that we can't go to war because of budget issues: we got a space mission on after all!

      And I wish for the day when people bitch and moan about military spending and saying, "Look! The Chinese and Russians are WAY ahead of us in space exploration! WTF do we need another fucking aircraft carrier! We need another rocket!!"

      But I am crazy and stupid.

      • There's plenty of water just floating around out there without needing to climb out of a gravity well to get it. Still I think we should go to Europa, but with a probe that's able to dig down then dig back up with the data. I'd imagine designing such a probe would be quite difficult given the pressures down there however. I can't see feeding out wire behind it as being a starter, 100km of wire is never going to be that portable... unless the spool was on the surface along with a transmitter... hmm... sheari

        • by cusco (717999)

          Plan that I saw quite some time ago included a lander with an RTG on the bottom that could melt its way through the ice, and the probe would drop transponders behind it occasionally as it descended. Don't know how viable the concept was, but it sounded neat. Wonder what frequencies they envisioned that would go through ice to the repeaters.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Mein Fuhrer! We need to keep the Chinese from achieving a spaceship gap on us! Besides, we will soon need all that water on Europa to replenish our precious bodily fluids!

    • > If they're expecting to find some trace of life in some trace of water vapour that may or may not have been ejected near where the probe lands in the few days before any DNA or proteins would be destroyed by the hard vacuum and radiation then I think its wishful thinking at best.

      Even if any DNA in this water would break down, an analysis of the water vapor would refine our models (and could confirm or exclude the presence of complex organic compounds, within or underneath the ice).

      > At worst a waste

    • by splutty (43475)

      There were actually plans at one time (no idea if they ever got worked out) to send a combination lander.

      One lander for communication, with a submarine module to bore through the ice and go exploring under water.

      Sounded really neat, but not very feasable.

    • No, no. Since there are geysers on Europa, these could be spewing fresh organic material onto the surface that could be remotely senses and maybe even sampled directly by flying through the plumes. This would be a moderately-priced mission when compared to the Space Station pork or the Space Launch System pork or the Orion pork.
    • by bigpat (158134)

      Ideally they could design a probe or series of probes that could melt or dig their way through the ice, but that is a lot of energy that would be required. And then all that ice is going to make it very hard to relay any data back to Earth.

      I would say until they can demonstrate a probe that can melt or dig its way through the ice on Europa that we are better off sending a probe to the edge of the ice cap on Mars.

  • NASA has been trying to gut the planetary exploration programs for the last few years to feed the pork-barrel manned missions. This is a very odd turn of events. Stealing money from real science (un-manned missions from JPL/ Pasadena) to feed the pork monster (manned missions from Houston) is not new. In fact Carl Sagan started the Planetary Society to stop this poaching way back when.
  • by morgauxo (974071) on Thursday March 06, 2014 @10:05AM (#46418345)

    Maybe it would help if they offered to takeCongress along with them for the ride. While they are at it there is no reason to leave the whitehouse out. They can even save some fuel by not bringing them back!

  • No they don't. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by goodmanj (234846) on Thursday March 06, 2014 @11:11AM (#46418981)

    What NASA Headquarters is proposing is not a mission, it's a recipe for failure. They want to spend no more than $1 billion on a mission we planetary scientists have told them costs $2 billion.

    Suppose you're planning a trip for two to New Zealand. You've got the budget all worked out: airfare costs about half of the total, even during the off-season, and you're skimping on hotels and meals and skipping the helicopter tour to save money. Then your spouse comes along and says you can only spend half as much. You can't make the plane tickets any cheaper, so unless you consider sleeping in the Auckland airport a vacation, she's saying you're not going to New Zealand at all.

    It costs a billion dollars to send a bucket of bricks to Europa. Doing science once you get there is extra.

    • by ceoyoyo (59147) on Thursday March 06, 2014 @11:48AM (#46419377)

      Sounds like you're going to New Zealand without your spouse.

  • These types of projects aren't likely to get publicly funded because too much of tax revenue is now required to be spent on entitlements. Whether this was intentional or not is debatable but the unintended consequences are clear. A project like this getting shot down will disappoint some people but they will get over it. Private space companies will have to take this on.

  • by milkmage (795746) on Thursday March 06, 2014 @12:43PM (#46420037)

    I thought it said EUROPE.
    eruopA makes so much more sense

    • by houghi (78078)

      I my language the continent is written as Europa, so my first thought was : "Please don't."

      It is stupid naming anyway. Naming a planet after a continent is like naming a continent after a person. Oh. Wait. Nevermind.

  • Seriously, if they use 2 FHs to launch, they can send a red dragon and several orbital crafts on the first one, with a fully fueled tug on the second. Then send 2 orbiters along with the red dragon to land.
  • We'll never really know if we don't go look. How much is this kind of knowledge worth?
  • Since Europa seems one of the most likely worlds in the Solar System other than Earth where we have some hope of finding extant life

    i think we already found life on earth.

  • But I haven't got the money.

"Only the hypocrite is really rotten to the core." -- Hannah Arendt.

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