Beta

Slashdot: News for Nerds

×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

NASA May Send Landers To Europa In 2020

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the let's-send-a-fleet dept.

NASA 156

wisebabo writes "So here's a proposal by NASA to send landers to Europa to look for life. They are sending two landers because of the risks in landing on Europa. They got that right! First is the 500 million mile distance from the Sun, which will probably necessitate RTGs (Juno uses solar panels, but they are huge) and will cause at least an hour of lag time for communications. Then there is the intense gravitational field of Jupiter, which will require a lot of fuel to get into Jovian and then Europan orbit. (It's equivalent to traveling amongst the inner planets!) The radiation in space around Jupiter is tremendous, so the spacecraft may need to be 'armored' like Juno. Landing on Europa is going to be crazy; there aren't any hi-res maps of the landing areas (unlike Mars) and even if there were, the geography of Europa might change due to the shifting ice. Since there is no atmosphere, it'll be rockets down all the way; very expensive in terms of fuel — like landing on the Moon. Finally, who knows what the surface is like; is it a powder, rock hard, crumbly or slippery? In a couple respects, looking for life on Titan (where we've already landed one simple probe) would be a lot easier: dense atmosphere, no radiation, radar mapped from space, knowledge of surface). If only we could do both!"

cancel ×

156 comments

Shouldn't be NASA. (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38328162)

I think Europe should send probes to Europa.

Re:Shouldn't be NASA. (0)

Barryke (772876) | more than 2 years ago | (#38328198)

Hey send me a robot and i'll help it discover Europe. Hey this could be a TV show!

Re:Shouldn't be NASA. (1)

Z00L00K (682162) | more than 2 years ago | (#38328522)

At least - if they make a mistake and I see something odd in my back yard I know why.

Ten years late, but still..... (5, Funny)

nura78 (757740) | more than 2 years ago | (#38328174)

Weren't we warned about not not landing there? :-P

Re:Ten years late, but still..... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38328266)

Yes. By an agent of aliens who do not necessarily have our own best interests in mind.

exactly! (2)

p51d007 (656414) | more than 2 years ago | (#38328320)

All these worlds Are yours except Europa Attempt no Landing there Use them together Use them in peace........ Better not hack them off, Jupiter will disappear & turn into another sun LOL.

Re:exactly! (4, Informative)

rossdee (243626) | more than 2 years ago | (#38328846)

"All these worlds Are yours except Europa Attempt no Landing there"

Yep, that part is from the book 2010 by Arthur C Clarke

The rest is from a crappy movie based on the book

Re:exactly! (2)

alfredos (1694270) | more than 2 years ago | (#38329188)

Not sure about "crappy". It's a classic of its genre and, just like the books, has that feeling, typical of the time, that the author smoked something really weird while writing some parts.

Re:exactly! (2)

Bitsy Boffin (110334) | more than 2 years ago | (#38330002)

You are thinking of 2001. Parent is talking (correctly given context!) about 2010.

2010 was not trippy, like the latter half of 2001; 2010 was quite straight forward really.

It's a bit dated now with the whole cold war sub plot, but otherwise a pretty good movie.

Re:exactly! (1)

petsounds (593538) | more than 2 years ago | (#38330430)

Well, it's LITERALLY dated now that we've already passed 2010.

But the US still has a Cold War -- it's just with China now. [a more complicated Cold War, certainly, but despite the economic relationship the militaries of the two nations see each other as a primary threat] And once they get their space program in full swing and the US program continues to deteriorate, I could see a tense joint mission between the two.

Re:exactly! (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 2 years ago | (#38330972)

Except that, unlike during the first Cold War, the US military now is completely incompetent since they actually get their military hardware from their primary threat. Back during the first CW, the US never got any of its military hardware components from the Soviet Union; there were no Sovtek chips in US gear. Not so any more. Now lots of the hardware comes directly from China: flat-panel displays, electronic components like ICs and capacitors, plus plenty of counterfeit parts because the defense contractors are apparently incompetent at sourcing parts directly from manufacturers.

Re:exactly! (1, Informative)

petsounds (593538) | more than 2 years ago | (#38331150)

I don't have working knowledge of US military hardware internals, and if I did I certainly couldn't comment about it, but I imagine to some extent you're correct. Though there's still a big difference of knowledge and skill between base parts and a final design. For instance, getting photos and material samples from a downed US stealth fighter or helicopter doesn't mean the Chinese can go right out and build one of their own, or automatically absorb the theory and science behind it. But they are improving much more rapidly than the US military thought possible; case in point, the Chinese sub which surfaced within torpedo range of a US carrier without being detected.

But yes, the US has certainly been sold down the river by politicians and corporations who were willing to put personal desires for wealth and power above the good of the country. The lack of a large high-tech manufacturing base in America is certainly, as you point out, as much a national security issue as it is an economic one.

Not really (1)

dbIII (701233) | more than 2 years ago | (#38331566)

The old idiots that think of the cold war as "the good old days" would LIKE another cold war but it isn't really happening. It's just two large countries looking after their own interests.
I know you are getting this from elsewhere so I can be frank without being insulting - don't take it personally because the stupidity is not yours. It's really a very stupid analogy when you think back to the 1970s and not really anything like the cold war at all.

Re:exactly! (2)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 2 years ago | (#38331684)

It's been a while since I read the series, but wasn't it 2010 where the Russians and Americans end up doing a joint mission and competing with the Chinese?

Re:exactly! (1)

slick7 (1703596) | more than 2 years ago | (#38329404)

All these worlds Are yours except Europa Attempt no Landing there Use them together Use them in peace........ Better not hack them off, Jupiter will disappear & turn into another sun LOL.

We come in peace, shoot to kill, shoot to kill - Star Trekin'

The awkward moment... (4, Funny)

filmorris (2466940) | more than 2 years ago | (#38328194)

The awkward moment when you read "NASA May Send Landers To Europe In 2020"

Re:The awkward moment... (4, Funny)

morgaen (1896818) | more than 2 years ago | (#38328410)

Those pesky socialists won't liberate themselves...

Re:The awkward moment... (1)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 2 years ago | (#38328488)

At least will have plenty of budget if become a military division of US

Re:The awkward moment... (4, Funny)

Surt (22457) | more than 2 years ago | (#38329176)

Well, it's a lot less expensive to get a lander to Europe, and the chance of finding any intelligent life is only marginally worse.

Re:The awkward moment... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38330766)

That's because NASA rovers couldn't find life even if it were on top of them jumping up and down.

NASA in 2020? (5, Insightful)

ikedasquid (1177957) | more than 2 years ago | (#38328226)

With all the rabid budget cutting going on, we'll be lucky if NASA is still around in 2020.

Re:NASA in 2020? (1)

Hartree (191324) | more than 2 years ago | (#38328612)

Oh, it'll still be around since no one would want the political fallout from ending it. The staffing and facilities might be a little smaller, though.

His desk will be over in that corner.

plausible deniability (see the US Postal Service) (5, Informative)

decora (1710862) | more than 2 years ago | (#38329526)

A group of congress people killed it , on purpose, by making it pay-forward its pension fund for 75 years. Almost no company could survive that.

Is that what any of the news reports say? No. Most of them say "oh, email killed it". complete horse shit. if they hadn't had to pre-fund their pension, they would have been rather profitable in recent years. Unlike, say, Goldman Sachs, Fannie Mae, Merrill Lynch, Wachovia, General Motors, Chrysler, and every other bailed out shit hole full of ivy league douchebags and hedge fund assholes.

Re:plausible deniability (see the US Postal Servic (3, Informative)

jpmorgan (517966) | more than 2 years ago | (#38331094)

That's pure spin. Changing the USPS to account for 75 years worth of liabilities brings it in line with the private sector. It used to be under normal government accounting rules, which are a lot more "flexible." If anybody in the private sector tries the accounting tricks the government lets itself get away with, they find themselves on the sharp end of an audit pretty damn quick.

In the private sector, federal law requires you to fully fund a pension plan, including all future liabilities. That's stricter than the USPS's 75 year requirement. In practice they're pretty similar, because you're not likely to have any significant liabilities beyond 75 years.

Re:NASA in 2020? (3, Insightful)

cavreader (1903280) | more than 2 years ago | (#38329796)

NASA's existence and funding is practically guaranteed because the US government and military will never allow other countries to exceed the US space capabilities without a fight. Space is the ultimate high ground. The original moon landings were directly related to the US - USSR competition for space and technological advancements. Budgets can always be enlarged if necessary. As it is most countries in the world are still trying to develop tech the US had in the 60's.NASA is still a going concern although some people will never give them any credit unless they produce a warp drive.

Re:NASA in 2020? (2)

cosm (1072588) | more than 2 years ago | (#38330694)

While in theory I agree with some of your premises, a couple problems.
- Cold war is over, the pissing contest of space superiority isn't nearly as beneficial as it used to be (unless their becomes more military incentive, then perhaps we'll see a resurgence in contractor money flow).
- Budgets cannot always be enlarged. We will eventually hit a funding wall. And say perhaps the budgets are continually increased, well with 'quantitative easing', inflation / depreciation of the dollar and lack of proper revenue, exponential growth of government spending WILL hit a brick wall.

Re:NASA in 2020? (5, Insightful)

surfdaddy (930829) | more than 2 years ago | (#38330796)

NASA's existence and funding is practically guaranteed because the US government and military will never allow other countries to exceed the US space capabilities without a fight. Space is the ultimate high ground. The original moon landings were directly related to the US - USSR competition for space and technological advancements. Budgets can always be enlarged if necessary. As it is most countries in the world are still trying to develop tech the US had in the 60's.NASA is still a going concern although some people will never give them any credit unless they produce a warp drive.

Uhhh....no way.

What countries, TODAY, can launch men into space? Answer: China and Russia.

Does NASA have a clear path forward to manned spaceflight? Answer: No - it's many years down the line, if ever.

OK, how about commercial space. Isn't NASA funding commercial space programs? Answer: Yes, but the funding has been dropping rapidly, as powerful lobbying interests (re: Boeing, other established Aerospace players) want to preserve their big cash cows. So wildly innovative companies like SpaceX are in danger of losing funding, all in the name of crony capitalism.

It's all pretty damn depressing if you ask me. I wish you were correct, but you're not.

Re:NASA in 2020? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38330812)

NASA's existence and funding is practically guaranteed because the US government and military will never allow other countries to exceed the US space capabilities without a fight. Space is the ultimate high ground. The original moon landings were directly related to the US - USSR competition for space and technological advancements.

1) The airforce has its EELV launcher deal that it worked out with the ULA to handle its expensive spy satellites. NASA is not need to get military space access.

2) anti satellite weapons are a lot cheaper to make than putting something into orbit. The fact there were no orbiting battle stations during the Cold War is a testament to that. But the "Space is the Ultimate high ground" phrase will work with the stupid voting populace. I can see Carmack and Rutan team up to make a reusable satellite killer.

3) The early manned space program was an effort to replace the manned spy planes. The Soviet Union was stupid enough to put a satellite into orbit, implicitly declaring that it is legal to orbit over the territory of any country (even if it is several hundred miles high). Eisenhower smiled, and the manned space spy program program began. The sixties politicians covered it up with glamour of the space age. Of course, computers became good enough, and the manned space program withered.

Re:NASA in 2020? (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 2 years ago | (#38331006)

While in theory I agree with some of your premises just like "cosm", I have another problem to add to his:
- Have you seen the morons running for President lately? And have you seen the way the idiots at the voting booth vote these days? If one of the Republicans gets elected, I wouldn't be surprised to see NASA get the ax, along with a bunch of other Federal agencies, no matter how little sense it makes to national security. Say what you will about China, but at least they actually have smart people running the place (most of them are engineers IIRC). Over here, we just can't wait to elect the biggest morons we can find for Congress and the White House.

Re:NASA in 2020? (1)

Dripdry (1062282) | more than 2 years ago | (#38331160)

The people in China are engineers by name only. This came up some months ago in another thread. I'm sorry, I do not have a citation for that.

First Contact (2)

roguegramma (982660) | more than 2 years ago | (#38328228)

I always knew there was a reason why we weren't understanding each other.

Waste of time (1)

lefke123 (2446554) | more than 2 years ago | (#38328262)

I can vouch for Europe, it contains life. Just trust me.

Re:Waste of time (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 2 years ago | (#38330596)

I think they're trying to find out whether it is intelligent.

Re:Waste of time (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 2 years ago | (#38331036)

Intelligence is really a relative term, not a binary condition. While the level of intelligence of Europe is questionable, it's undeniably far more intelligent than America.

Re:Waste of time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38331496)

Intelligence is really a relative term, not a binary condition. While the level of intelligence of Europe is questionable, it's undeniably far more intelligent than America.

Yes, what with the rampant denial of global warming and evolution in that continent... oh, wait.

For the love of Dave, No! (4, Informative)

synaptik (125) | more than 2 years ago | (#38328270)

Have we forgotten? "All these worlds are yours, except Europa. Attempt no landing there." (Stupid NO-CAPS slashdot filter...)

Re:For the love of Dave, No! (1)

Spy Handler (822350) | more than 2 years ago | (#38328432)

I predict that the ESA probe will die if it attempts to land on Europa.

Dear Mr Monolith (4, Funny)

PPH (736903) | more than 2 years ago | (#38328490)

I am writing to inform you that we have indeed taken your warning to heart. In order to avoid making contact with Europa, we have placed NASA in charge of the project, thus insuring that your admonition will be heeded for the foreseeable future.

Yours truly,
The people of Earth

P.S. Sit back and enjoy the occasional fireworks display in low Earth orbit or between Earth and Mars.

Re:Dear Mr Monolith (1)

wanzeo (1800058) | more than 2 years ago | (#38330044)

All I can say is, they better sterilize the hell out of this thing. And then do it again.

The last thing I want is for them to find life, but be uncertain about whether or not it came from earth, a repeat of the Surveyor incident. [wikipedia.org]

Re:Dear Mr Monolith (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38331056)

Honestly, your lack of faith in NASA is astonishing considering what they have acomplished

Lets think, spirit and opportunity was only a 3 month long project, opportunity is STILL going. They both lasted WAY longer

What about voyager? ever thought we get into deep space?

Seriously, We need to find intelligent life because there isnt any here.

Re:For the love of Dave, No! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38329416)

Have we forgotten? "All these worlds are yours, except Europa. Attempt no landing there." (Stupid NO-CAPS slashdot filter...)

Score: 5, Informative ?! Is there a new religion I don't know about ?

Misread headline (5, Funny)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 2 years ago | (#38328300)

I opened slashdot while wrapping Christmas presents and read the headline as "Nasa May Send Lawyers to Europa." My thought was, "Be sure to send them all."

ahaha like that moron Clarence Darrow (2)

decora (1710862) | more than 2 years ago | (#38328346)

i agree. society would be much better if we simply settled our disagreements like they did before lawyers - by having one baronial lord force a group of peasants, under penalty of death, to attack another, in a never ending cycle of pointless, ego driven violence and bloodshed, resulting in the cultural stagnation of entire continents for centuries at a time.

Re:ahaha like that moron Clarence Darrow (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 2 years ago | (#38328516)

What fantasy land do you live in that that was before lawyers?

Re:ahaha like that moron Clarence Darrow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38328826)

If you study the history of the law as a profession, you'll trace it back to the knight-champions of the nobles in Europe. To settle disputes, they would hire champions to joust, fight, etc... sometimes to the death. Go read about it.

Re:ahaha like that moron Clarence Darrow (2)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 2 years ago | (#38330102)

False. The greek Orators were used by those needing assistance to plead their own case, they the first lawyers in the west, and Rome also had similar "advocates". So you're off by a thousand years or more.

Re:ahaha like that moron Clarence Darrow (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 2 years ago | (#38331116)

I'm not a history major, so this might not be completely correct, but you both might be right. The thing is, the Romans invented a lot of very advanced stuff (not just technology but social and political institutions as well), which all disappeared during the Dark Ages and was slowly brought back or reinvented during or after the Enlightenment. Remember, they had running water and plumbing during Roman times too, but that all disappeared after the fall of the Empire, and took over 1000 years to come back.

Not only that, there were many other ancient societies (many in the mideast) that we have little to no knowledge of as they were conquered and everything destroyed; there's no telling what kind of social and political institutions they invented. Some of them may well have had lawyers too (though hopefully not as evil as the ones here in America).

Re:ahaha like that moron Clarence Darrow (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 2 years ago | (#38331740)

Now, now, he might be on to something. We need to get back to basics, give the lawyers swords or lances and let them go at it. So shh. His version is much better than letting them talk at each other wearing togas.

Re:ahaha like that moron Clarence Darrow (1)

jd2112 (1535857) | more than 2 years ago | (#38331198)

What fantasy land do you live in that that was before lawyers?

Ah, the second oldest profession.

Re:ahaha like that moron Clarence Darrow (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38328670)

What a humorless drama queen. I bet you're fun at parties.

lawyer jokes - fun at parties! (1)

decora (1710862) | more than 2 years ago | (#38329408)

i remember the last great party i went to. tons of lawyer jokes. TONS. not old, not outdated! just like moon boots and friendship bracelets.

Re:ahaha like that moron Clarence Darrow (1)

Surt (22457) | more than 2 years ago | (#38329180)

Indeed, it's depressing how much better that was than what we have now.

Re:Misread headline (1)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 2 years ago | (#38329350)

2027: Frivolous 1, a mega spaceship that all of humanity has gathered together to build, launches into space with the majority of the world's lawyers on board.

2035: A Zeta Reticulan delegation approaches Earth and demands compensation for pollution of their star system.

Re:Misread headline (1)

jd2112 (1535857) | more than 2 years ago | (#38331336)

2027: Frivolous 1, a mega spaceship that all of humanity has gathered together to build, launches into space with the majority of the world's lawyers on board.

2035: A Zeta Reticulan delegation approaches Earth and demands compensation for pollution of their star system.

Why would we send lawyers into deep space and risk an interstellar incident when it would be so much easier to shoot them into the sun?

Re:Misread headline (1)

Kikuchi (1709032) | more than 2 years ago | (#38331738)

Oh I'm sure there already is a whole deck just for them in the B Ark schematics.

nanobots (2)

decora (1710862) | more than 2 years ago | (#38328322)

it seems to me that dumping thousands of nanobots across the planet would be easier than relying on one big lander to safely and smoothly land on an unseen location.

i guess the problem is you cant pack nice instruments into a nanobot. or... can you?

Re:nanobots (1)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 2 years ago | (#38328562)

Then they can combine, using the crust for raw materials, and form a giant city with human-form repli... no, wait....

Re:nanobots (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38329410)

The other problem being that we haven't invented the sophisticated nanobots you're talking about.

Re:nanobots (4, Insightful)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 2 years ago | (#38331136)

it seems to me that dumping thousands of nanobots across the planet would be easier than relying on one big lander to safely and smoothly land on an unseen location.

Yes, exactly. Not only that, but instead of burning so much fuel to get into Europa orbit and land on the surface due to the high gravity in the Jovian system and the lack of atmosphere on Europa, it would make a lot more sense to use antigravity engines, or better yet simply teleport probes to the surface. Why don't we do that?

Re:nanobots (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 2 years ago | (#38331758)

They tend not to survive the fall from orbit very well.

JFK (4, Interesting)

freezway (1649969) | more than 2 years ago | (#38328372)

"We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too." -JFK

Re:JFK (2)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 2 years ago | (#38328440)

JFK? I wonder why anyone would want to name their kid after an airport?

True. We can't let the Commies get to Europa befor (2)

decora (1710862) | more than 2 years ago | (#38329550)

... oh wait.

The commies are now running sweatshops that make our cellphones. Ah well.

With help from ESA (1)

maweki (999634) | more than 2 years ago | (#38328462)

Why don't they ask ESA? I am pretty sure they already have landers there

Wow, I misread that badly (2)

MacGyver2210 (1053110) | more than 2 years ago | (#38328464)

I thought the headline said "NSA May Send Lenders to Europe in 2020"...

I was wondering why they were going to wait so long.

Re:Wow, I misread that badly (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38328830)

Since you started a thread to share your disability with us, can you tell us more about it? Do you think the problem is your vision, or your brain?

Re:Wow, I misread that badly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38330524)

Do you think the problem is your vision, or your brain?

His brain, definitely, if his posting history is any indication.

Re:Wow, I misread that badly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38329782)

I read it the same way. I don't think that the current economic collapse will wipe out all life on Europe, but I wasn't too terribly surprised that someone at NASA was already requesting funding to plan for that contingency.

This does not sound like a right schedule (4, Informative)

Cochonou (576531) | more than 2 years ago | (#38328472)

This does not sound like a right schedule - as the Jupiter Europa Orbiter mission was put on hold recently. Having worked a bit on it, the expected level of radiation was very high, even when compared to Juno. It follows on a long tradition of missions to Europe being cancelled (see the Jupiter Icy Moon Orbiter which was cancelled in 2005). Fans of Arthur C. Clarke will see a trend there. The Laplace mission (from ESA) which is aiming for Ganymede is currently trying to pick on bits of JEO science targets by adding flybys of Europe to the original mission plan - we will see how far it goes.

Way Too Late (2)

Ganty (1223066) | more than 2 years ago | (#38328504)

Here's the problem, if the probe lands in 2026 I'll be 67 years old and I might not be able to appreciate it. Some speed here would be appreciated guys!

Oh, and GET OFF MY DAMN LAWN!!

Ganty

Re:Way Too Late (4, Funny)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#38328726)

Why? The nursing home should have a TV. Just ask the nice nurses to switch to the NASA channel.

The last stand of the Euro (0)

gavron (1300111) | more than 2 years ago | (#38328536)

By 2026 Europa will be the only place the Euro is useful currency.

E

mister bojangles (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38328546)

saintium@yahoo.com

Also: ESA not pleased. Calls it a hostile invasion (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38328662)

European study shows fears it might end like when they sent landers over to America.

Disclaimer: Joke may only be funny to Germans.

Is there oil there? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38328696)

If there isn't then the whole exercise is a waste of time and money.

There are indeed risks in landing on Europa.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38328724)

Especially for Britons, these days...

Moons like Europa might be best place for Life (3, Insightful)

wisebabo (638845) | more than 2 years ago | (#38328750)

From the previous slashdot story about "Rare Earths". The argument was made that the a large moon (which may be very rare) might be necessary to keep a planet's axis from wobbling. But what about an exo-moon around a (much larger) planet?

If having a large moon helps stabilize the earth's rotation, what about if an exo-"planet" is, in fact a moon around a much larger (probably gas giant) planet, just like Pandora in the movie "Avatar"? One would imagine that any variation in its climate due to wobbling would be completely eliminated.

While the "exo-moon" would almost certainly be tidally locked to the giant planet, as long as the orbital period wasn't too long (a week?) the difference in temperature between night and day would hopefully not be too pronounced. For example Io, has a period of 1.7 days. If the moon had a really thick atmosphere (like Titan) then this would probably not matter in the slightest as the "air" would likely distribute the heat quite effectively (but could be windy!).

Another thing we've learned by looking at these moons orbiting the gas giants is that they could have almost any amount of tectonic activity which is important for things like plate tectonics which is sometimes regarded as being essential for its effects on our climate. From super-volcanic Io to frozen Callisto, we see that tidal effects from a gas giant can pump hugely varying amounts of energy into a moon.

Of course, radiation may be a concern for most DNA based life (some DNA based life, like tardigrads are remarkably resilient though). I don't know why some gas giants like Jupiter have lethal (to us) amounts of radiation while others don't. So maybe this is a non-issue.

So maybe we should be looking for exo-moons orbiting gas giants in the habitable zone! How many are there? Obviously I don't know but there don't seem to be any dearth of gas giants orbiting other stars. As for the number of moons orbiting these gas giants, who knows but judging from our own solar system (Jupiter has 33 satellites of which 4 are "large") it seems that one or more would be at the right distance from the planet to benefit (but not too much) from tidal energy. Just for an example imagine if Jupiter was in the habitable zone. All the Galilean satellites except Io would be excellent candidates for COMPLEX life (presumably underwater).

What wavelength radio waves penetrate underwater? Maybe SETI should be listening on those frequencies! :)

Re:Moons like Europa might be best place for Life (3, Informative)

Mr2cents (323101) | more than 2 years ago | (#38329178)

What wavelength radio waves penetrate underwater?

Well, basically none. Radio waves can travel some distance underwater but are quickly damped. For submarines very low frequencies of a few Hz have been used [wikipedia.org] . They can get a bit deeper, but you need very, very large antenna's for that.

Communications (1)

mrmeval (662166) | more than 2 years ago | (#38328758)

FTL communications are most likely not possible with quantum entanglement but could it allow communication without signal degradation?

Sorry about the dumb question (3)

zill (1690130) | more than 2 years ago | (#38328792)

Then there is the intense gravitational field of Jupiter, which will require a lot of fuel to get into Jovian and then Europan orbit. (It's equivalent to traveling amongst the inner planets!)

Can someone please explain why a strong gravitational field would require more fuel? Wouldn't a stronger pull require less fuel to get there since the Jovian gravity is pulling you there?

Re: Sorry about the dumb question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38328814)

it takes fuel to get into an orbit. the higher the magnetic force the more fuel you need to spend to enter and maintain the obrit.
 
saintium@yahoo.com

Re: Sorry about the dumb question (0)

Spy Handler (822350) | more than 2 years ago | (#38328898)

Wouldn't a stronger pull require less fuel to get there since the Jovian gravity is pulling you there?

That's correct, if your goal is to impact Jupiter.

If your goal is to enter Jupiter's ORBIT however, the strong gravity pull means you have to spend a lot of fuel and increase your speed to match Jupiter's obital velocity, which is quite high.

Re: Sorry about the dumb question (1)

surfdaddy (930829) | more than 2 years ago | (#38330826)

Wouldn't a stronger pull require less fuel to get there since the Jovian gravity is pulling you there?

That's correct, if your goal is to impact Jupiter.

If your goal is to enter Jupiter's ORBIT however, the strong gravity pull means you have to spend a lot of fuel and increase your speed to match Jupiter's obital velocity, which is quite high.

I don't think this is correct. You need a lot of fuel to SLOW DOWN to enter Jovian orbit. You're traveling outbound in the Solar System, and you need to slow to go into orbit. And earth orbits way faster, as the orbital speed around the sun increases as you get closer. Just like satellites in earth orbit are faster at lower altitudes.

Re: Sorry about the dumb question (5, Informative)

Solandri (704621) | more than 2 years ago | (#38329128)

Can someone please explain why a strong gravitational field would require more fuel? Wouldn't a stronger pull require less fuel to get there since the Jovian gravity is pulling you there?

You have to remember that there's no friction in space. Going down a gravity well is easy, but stopping at the bottom requires energy. It's like a roller coaster heading down from a peak, with Jupiter at the bottom. As you approach Jupiter, it's gravity will speed you up (relative to Jupiter). Unless you put in energy to counteract that extra speed, you shoot past and fly right up the other side of the gravity well (up the next peak).

That said, the summary is wrong. Jupiter has lots of moons. You can do the opposite of a gravitational slingshot. Approach the moon from the forward direction, and thereby transfer some of your kinetic energy to the moon. Do it enough times and you're in Jupiter's orbit. That's pretty much how Galileo and Cassini were inserted into orbits around Jupiter and Saturn. You only need fuel or aerobraking to enter into orbit around planets without large moons, like Mars.

Not surprised (2, Insightful)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 2 years ago | (#38329146)

Note that it says "NASA May Send Landers to Europa", not "SpaceX..." or "Private space exploration firms....".

Private industry can never replace the important need for publicly funded, government sponsored exploration of space.

Lewis and Clark were not funded by "private industry". They could not have been funded by private industry, and if they could have been, it would have made it a much less wonderful expedition.

Re:Not surprised (1)

ustolemyname (1301665) | more than 2 years ago | (#38330108)

In socialist Canada, the exploration of our west was privately funded by the Hudson Bay Company, and they covered a lot more area and were at it before Lewis and Clark.

Re:Not surprised (2)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 2 years ago | (#38330610)

The potential to get some immediate return on investment was much higher, though. Once you discovered anything interesting (not even necessarily gold, there are plenty of prospective resources), it wasn't hard to entice some settlers to move there and start producing. The way it is with space right now, all research is going to be of no use economically for decades.

Re:Not surprised (3, Interesting)

Nyeerrmm (940927) | more than 2 years ago | (#38330146)

Is anyone arguing with that? I'm a commercial space proponent and I work on NASA-funded planetary science missions.

The commercial space community states explicitly that NASA should be performing the "Lewis and Clark" job -- in fact thats the exact phrase we use. However, rides to orbit are no longer cutting edge technology, and have a proven opportunity for profit, and this is why we call for the government to stop insisting on its own launchers and use commercially available ones wherever possible, and to foster a market where it is possible to form one.

In planetary science we actively support this model, since Juno, MSL and GRAIL (the three recently launched missions) all launched on commercially purchased launch vehicles (though ULA is a bit of a monopoly so its not the healthiest commercial market).

Re:Not surprised (2)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 2 years ago | (#38330946)

Is anyone arguing with that?

Yes, an entire wing of the Republican Party believes that private industry does everything better than government.

If only we could do both! (?) (3, Insightful)

Ralph Spoilsport (673134) | more than 2 years ago | (#38329232)

Of course we could do both. We could do a bunch of them. Just give the F35 a skip or not build another aircraft carrier or some other useless piece of military hardware, or not bail out yet another bank that took your pension fund to the casino and put it all on Red 37. And lost.

hardware aint the least of it (4, Insightful)

decora (1710862) | more than 2 years ago | (#38329600)

the massive number of pointless military bases, oceans of bureaucracy, contractors that chage twice as much to do the same work as govt employees, contractors with corrupt links to govt leaders who decide who gets the money, pointless projects that spend billions and are cancelled halfway through planning stages.

the US military is essentially one gigantic social welfare program.

the only way to get a space program going is to spread the production out to various places, so that congress can suckle the fat teat of mother federal government and bring that bacon home to their districts.

Re:If only we could do both! (?) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38330886)

Bailing out the banks was generally profitable, actually. The banks paid it back with interest. A couple situations are ongoing (e.g. the Fed still owns a lot of AIG) but for the most part the bailouts were wildly successful.

Re:If only we could do both! (?) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38331042)

Of course we could do both. We could do a bunch of them. Just give the F35 a skip or not build another aircraft carrier or some other useless piece of military hardware

The design and expertise to build and come up with carrier operations is high. The incremental cost of building a carrier is smaller.

Why do we care anyway... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38330718)

It's been made quite clear that the world will end on December 21, 2012. Anything past that is irrelevant!

Tunneling below the ice (1)

GillyGuthrie (1515855) | more than 2 years ago | (#38331126)

I was just watching reruns of the old History channel "The Universe" shows not long ago. The ice on Europa is apparently *very* thick (I think the show said 100 feet at least). So, let's say NASA's rover lands on Europa and melts its way through the ice to search the water there - when it takes nice hi-rez photos of critters licking the camera, how will it send it back to earth? I can see the transmissions going through "space" OK (little interference) but wouldn't 100 feet of ice put a bit of a damper on the signal?

Re:Tunneling below the ice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38331736)

More like 100 kilometers.

Re:Tunneling below the ice (1)

ridgecritter (934252) | more than 2 years ago | (#38331826)

Ice shell on Europa is thought to be about 100 *km* thick, which would certainly block radio transmissions.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Europa_(moon) [wikipedia.org]

Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...