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Space Science

Russia to Search For Life on Europa 125

porkpickle writes "Russia plans to participate in a European mission to investigate Jupiter's moon Europa and search for simple life forms. The head of the Space Research Institute, Lev Zelyony, said a project to explore the giant gaseous planet Jupiter would shortly be included in the program of the European Space Agency (ESA) for the years 2015 to 2025."
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Russia to Search For Life on Europa

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  • On Europa, Soviet Russians look for YOU!
  • by CambodiaSam ( 1153015 ) on Monday January 07, 2008 @12:48PM (#21943128)
    Aren't they a bit behind schedule? I thought this was going to happen in a couple years.

    Oh wait, that wasn't a documentary was it...
    • by plover ( 150551 ) * on Monday January 07, 2008 @12:57PM (#21943258) Homepage Journal
      Sure, the aliens tell us "ALL THESE WORLDS ARE YOURS, EXCEPT EUROPA. ATTEMPT NO LANDINGS THERE", and which moon is the first one the Russians are heading for? Exactly.

      At least they can't say they weren't warned.

      • Like we should worry?, that second sun of theirs didn't seem to last so long now did it?

        We should insist they take Roy Scheider []just because he's earned it.
      • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Apparently in Soviet Russia, All These World are belong to YOU!
      • by Monkey ( 16966 )
        It's a well documented fact that Soviet Russians do the reverse of any stated action.
      • So the moral of the story is ... keep mail order Russian brides away from talking snakes?
  • With a population of over 710 million, life is abundant in europe. There is however no strong evidence for intelligent life. I kid. ;)
  • by explosivejared ( 1186049 ) <hagan,jared&gmail,com> on Monday January 07, 2008 @12:50PM (#21943156)
    Hey go for it, we should all support going into space as this planet is screwed.

    Everyone knows that in Soviet Russia, mother nature screws you... so that sort of environmentalist talk is uncalled for.
    • Everyone knows that in Soviet Russia, mother nature screws you

      Hmmm... didn't know Soviet Russians are that kinky.
  • by Dutchmaan ( 442553 ) on Monday January 07, 2008 @12:52PM (#21943194) Homepage
    Someone needs to tell them that their new 2010 DVD is just a movie.
  • except Europa. Attempt no landing there.
  • Always trying to sneak a peek in my Europa...
  • by Anonymous Coward
    For some reason, I read the headline as "Russia to Search For Life on Europe." And giggled.
  • .

    Kurt Vonnegut (1922-2007)
  • except Europa. Attempt no ... Oh, forget it. Our immigration policy useless -- no border fences, free medical care and education for illegal aliens and now our politicians are talking about amnesty. Go ahead an land.
    • free medical care and education for illegal aliens

      It's usually the children of illegal immigrants that are receiving free education, and that's because they are usually US citizens. "Free medical care" doesn't exist per se in the US; what exists is emergency treatment, and that is provided to illegals not to encourage illegal migration, but because we don't want Americans to die in the emergency room because we can't establish whether they are citizens.

      now our politicians are talking about amnesty

      Talking a
  • by StCredZero ( 169093 ) on Monday January 07, 2008 @01:12PM (#21943446)
    NASA needs outside competition. Otherwise, they just devolve to being a big pork-barrel project for Houston Texas and defense contractors. Outside competition got us to the moon. Maybe it will get us to Mars and Jupiter?
    • by mathfeel ( 937008 ) on Monday January 07, 2008 @02:52PM (#21944716)
      I say, let them land. This country needs another Sputnik to remind us that the rest of the world's S&T will still go forward while we "debate" such items as ID v.s. evolution.
    • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Monday January 07, 2008 @03:33PM (#21945322)
      Just claim you found life there, the males looking like tentacle monsters and the females like schoolgirls, and the Japanese will be ready to launch in less than 2 years. :)
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Nyeerrmm ( 940927 )
      I'd actually argue that the high profile competition with the Soviets caused the current state of the US space program. We rushed to the moon in a completely unsustainable way, and needed something to do afterwards that would be high profile but much cheaper, and most importantly involve men (eliminating the possibility of probes counting as high profile). This led to the technological budget monster that is the STS, which is fundamentally flawed (combining heavy lifter with person carrier), and is overly
  • Err, waitaminute... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Penguinisto ( 415985 ) on Monday January 07, 2008 @01:13PM (#21943460) Journal
    Wasn't there some sort of Internationally-recognized moratorium about landing on Europa, for fear of potential bacteriological contamination?

    Forget the Arthur. C. Clarke meme... I'm speaking as in a for-real 'we ain't going there yet' agreement that space-faring nations had agreed to, at least until they can come up with some sort of exploration set-up that can search for life there without risk (or at least an acceptably minimized risk) of contaminating the underlying ocean with Earth-borne bacteria.

    I could've sworn that there was something in place to that effect... sort of the same reason why the Russians held off from their efforts to drill all the way down to Lake Vostok [] in Antarctica.


    • "Chuck Norris understands the ending to 2001: A Space Odyssey" (I couldn't resist when I saw Clarke's name mentioned)
    • Nothing in Wikipedia [] about it, so you must be wrong. ;)

      Seriously, though, it says that there have been many false starts. Plus, there are some pretty serious technical hurdles to overcome.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      There have been a lot of concerns raised, but no exclusions. The spacecraft that discovered the oceans, Galileo, was burnt up in Jupiter's atmosphere to eliminate the small possibility that it crash into Europa and spread bacteria that it likely carried from earth, since it wasn't sterilized. You can bet that there will be ample pressure from inside the science community to clean any probe sent to a degree beyond even what the Mars landers are cleansed.

      The concern is that biological contamination could t
  • You can be sure that they will welcome their Russian overlords. :)

    Europeans also love Vodka and play chess to keep warm! :p
  • Personally, I welcome our Soviet Russian overlords.
  • Contamination (Score:5, Interesting)

    by hyades1 ( 1149581 ) <> on Monday January 07, 2008 @01:36PM (#21943750)

    Everything I've seen so far indicates it will be incredibly difficult and expensive to thoroughly decontaminate a spacecraft in order to ensure that Earth-based organisms don't "piss on the Petri Dish". The Russians are notorious for cutting corners, and their prime motivation for this exercise is political. The chance that they'll spend the extra millions of dollars to ensure the sterility of a Europa lander is non-existent.

    I see a serious potential for compromising what appears to be one of the better spots in the solar system to look for extraterrestrial life.

    • Re:Contamination (Score:4, Insightful)

      by HappyHead ( 11389 ) on Monday January 07, 2008 @02:15PM (#21944202)
      Yes, but you realize that this means one important thing:
      Even if there wasn't life on Europa before they look for it, there will be once they've found it.
      And 10 million years from now, the Europan flibbity-wumpus people will argue with eachother over whether life arose there spontaneously, or was "seeded" from space.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by ArcherB ( 796902 ) *
        And 10 million years from now, the Europan flibbity-wumpus people will argue with eachother over whether life arose there spontaneously, or was "seeded" from space.

        Never thought we'd be the I in ID.

        • We won't be. We don't qualify.

          Now, if you want "Borderline-moronic design", humanity fits the bill just fine.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Opportunist ( 166417 )
            Wouldn't it be kind of funny if "God" was just some alien space probe engineer who sneezed on the probe before launch?
          • There's plenty of words that start with I other than "Intelligent" that could all be used.
            Idiotic, Ignoble, Ignorant, Ill-advised, Inappropriate, Icky (I mean, what if they become slime people? Ew!), and so on.
        • by ricree ( 969643 )
          With the D standing for distributor?
      • by houghi ( 78078 )
        Argue with eachother? Most likely they will kill each other over it. Kill each other by the millions.
    • > The Russians are notorious for cutting corners

      Yeah, Challenger and Columbia exploded because they used Russian parts, right?

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Opportunist ( 166417 )
        No, they exploded because there was no Russian to compete with. Or, rather, because NASA turned to Russian practices.

        Challenger blew up because the launch was decided despite really, really bad conditions for a launch (to cold, too wet weather), because Reagan was about to hold a speech that night, and they wanted to be in it. This is about as Soviet Russian as can be.

        Columbia was a matter of time and money. NASA engineers will tell you (of course not officially) that it was bound to happen sooner or later,
        • Re:Contamination (Score:4, Interesting)

          by bitrex ( 859228 ) on Monday January 07, 2008 @04:08PM (#21945826)

          You should really read physicist Richard Feynman's report on the Challenger disaster for an honest analysis of what lead to that orbiter's destruction. There's also a good list of myths about the disaster that's worth reading - for example the belief that Reagan's state of the union had anything to do with the disaster.

          Launch officials clearly felt pressure to get the mission off after repeated delays, and they were embarrassed by repeated mockery on the television news of previous scrubs, but the driving factor in their minds seems to have been two shuttle-launched planetary probes. The first ever probes of this kind, they had an unmovable launch window just four months in the future. The persistent rumor that the White House had ordered the flight to proceed in order to spice up President Reagan's scheduled State of the Union address seems based on political motivations, not any direct testimony or other first-hand evidence. Feynman personally checked out the rumor and never found any substantiation. If Challenger's flight had gone according to plan, the crew would have been asleep at the time of Reagan's speech, and no communications links had been set up.

          Feynman's Appendix to the Rogers Commission Report on the Space Shuttle Challenger Accident []

          7 myths about the Challenger shuttle disaster []

    • Re:Contamination (Score:5, Informative)

      by rilister ( 316428 ) on Monday January 07, 2008 @02:52PM (#21944724)
      whoah there! 'fraid you've been misled by the lousy headline. If you'd got to the story synopsis, you'd see it was a *European* mission, which Russia is contributing to. It's called 'Laplace' (a curiously French name for a 'Russian mission', huh?) and will be launched by the ESA - European Space Agency in 2015ish.

      Now how much you trust those dirty Europeans is a different matter...

      • Actually, I did notice (just as I hit the "Post" button, of course). I decided it didn't make that much difference. If the Russians send a sealed unit along with assurances that it's been decontaminated (not unlikely, I think), I doubt whether the Europeans would pry it apart to do the job over again. And are you SURE the mission isn't called "Laplaceski".
      • The moon's called friggin' Europa. We totally have dibs.
    • Excuse me, but the Russians have kicked the US's ass with their space program. To think that they don't know what they're doing is assinine. They just need money and then they are good. They sent rovers to Venus and had them survive. If you cut corners, that aint gonna happen. No, it was the US who cut corners.
      • Did you even read what I wrote? I said nothing about whether or not the Russians were good. I said they would cut corners. Cutting corners is what you do to save money, and the Russians are famous for it. They did it early on in the space program, and the only reason you didn't see how many of their projects screwed up is that they weren't exactly forthcoming about their failures. And FYI, they didn't send any "rovers" to Venus. Landers. Not rovers. There's a difference, and not an insignificant one

    • by pv2b ( 231846 )

      Everything I've seen so far indicates it will be incredibly difficult and expensive to thoroughly decontaminate a spacecraft in order to ensure that Earth-based organisms don't "piss on the Petri Dish".
      Actually, pissing on the petri dish wouldn't be such a bad thing, since urine is sterile. :-)
    • by Venik ( 915777 )
      Maybe the Russians will hire you to help them plan this mission the right way.
    • Oh please, like your pathetic exploding fleet of Space Shuttles wasn't made by the lowest bidder.
    • by emilper ( 826945 )

      Russians are notorious for cutting corners

      And the Martians are notorious for being green.

      In my experience, Soviet Union devices used to be functional, made to work within a temperature range between -40 and +50 degrees Celsius, quite heavy, and most of the time quite ugly, but no corners were cut. If you imagine they matched US in military technology by cutting corners, you need a refresher course in industrial management. After all, is not Russia the only state that has the gear needed to supply the ISS ?

      If any microbe can survive a few mon

  • by mattr ( 78516 ) < minus cat> on Monday January 07, 2008 @01:51PM (#21943920) Homepage Journal
    And this is exactly what you get when you actually go out wanting to find life and look in the most obvious place. This is low-hanging fruit and hopefully a race will start to get some smart exploratory packages over there before we're dead.
    • by CheshireCatCO ( 185193 ) on Monday January 07, 2008 @02:27PM (#21944356) Homepage
      Actually, it's looking for fruit in a fruit tree where the fruits are *high*. Europa, while the best extra-terrestrial candidate for bearing life at present, requires some serious radiation shielding on any spacecraft going there, a fairly expensive landing, and a *lot* of work to bore through 1-10 km of literally-rock-hard ice. The probability of finding a viable ecosystem is balanced against the great difficulty to get to it.

      As I recall, a recent NASA study said that they can't do it for under $1 billion (US); actually, I think that they found that they couldn't even do a decent orbiter for under $1.5 billion, let alone a lander or a submarine probe. (Warning! This is only my recollection from presentations 6 months ago.)
      • The article said they would melt a bit of ice, there was no mention of drilling through 10km of ice. I guess they just want to examine surface ice for fossils.

        Still, it's an ambitious plan. But am I the only one who's beginning to get sceptical about Russian announcements? Weren't they going to do a sample return mission to Mars' moon Phobos? Weren't they going to do moon rovers? Weren't they going to build their own space station in 2015, when the ISS will be deorbited (not that I think it will be deobited
        • by jgoemat ( 565882 )

          The article said they would melt a bit of ice, there was no mention of drilling through 10km of ice. I guess they just want to examine surface ice for fossils.

          The video is actually pretty cool. Actually they are using a torpedo-shaped thing with a nuclear heater to melt through the ice. Since it is more dense than water, it will naturally sink as the ice melts. It looks like it plays out a thin wire to communicate with the surface, which is ok if it melts in the water as the torpedo passes. When it

  • they WILL find life of course, because Putin said so.
  • people search for even colder place because permafrost is thawing. []

    One muddy mess. No wonder they want to go somewhere cold.
    • Yeah, Sibiria simply ain't what it used to be. Sending people there is soon like sending them to a Club Med, so we need something new.
  • who thought they were looking for life on Europe?
  • I had to re-read the headline a couple of time because the first few times I thought I read "Russia to search for Intelligent Life on *Europe*" LOL..

  • Damn...I thought they were sending us on vacation to Italy.
  • Russia has been the worlds largest producer for a couple years, producing nearly a billion dollars worth per day. They also have excellent scientists. Sounds like a great combination.

  • Pie. Easy as -pie-.

Solutions are obvious if one only has the optical power to observe them over the horizon. -- K.A. Arsdall