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NASA Appointed Team Set Out Priorities For a Europa Surface Mission

samzenpus posted about a year ago | from the because-we-can dept.

Space 83

astroengine writes "Europa has only been seen from afar, but its aura of intrigue has inspired scientists to study ideas as to how to explore the icy Jovian moon. In a new study published in the journal Astrobiology [paper], a NASA-appointed science definition team lays out the rich tapestry of discovery facing any mission to study Europa, but what questions do we need answering? 'If one day humans send a robotic lander to the surface of Europa, we need to know what to look for and what tools it should carry,' said Robert Pappalardo, of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., and the study's lead author. 'There is still a lot of preparation that is needed before we could land on Europa, but studies like these will help us focus on the technologies required to get us there, and on the data needed to help us scout out possible landing locations. Europa is the most likely place in our solar system beyond Earth to have life today, and a landed mission would be the best way to search for signs of life.'"

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Search for life (4, Interesting)

girlintraining (1395911) | about a year ago | (#44503955)

As we've discovered, life is pretty resiliant. It can survive in a vaccum, it can survive radiation, it can feed on all kinds of chemicals and environments... and every year we discover life has found a new way to exist in a previously-thought inhospitable environment. We even have self-replicating proteins (prions) that are so resistant that medical tools used on someone infected with mad cow have to be thrown away after, because they can't be adequately disinfected.

I'd be very interested in knowing how NASA plans on disinfecting its spacecraft prior to launch so it doesn't wind up detecting now, or years or centuries down the line, what we brought with us.

Re:Search for life (0)

mcgrew (92797) | about a year ago | (#44504043)

I'd be very interested in knowing how NASA plans on disinfecting its spacecraft prior to launch so it doesn't wind up detecting now, or years or centuries down the line, what we brought with us.

Google [google.com] can be helpful. So can wikipedia.

*sigh* a few years ago I'd have said "Google is your friend."

Re:Search for life (2)

girlintraining (1395911) | about a year ago | (#44504085)

Google can be helpful. So can wikipedia.

(clicks link) Except when it isn't.

Result 1: Disinfection of Spacecraft Potable Water Systems... which is inside the spacecraft, not the spacecraft itself. And it's a PDF.

Result 2: Microbial Monitoring and Disinfection aboard NASA Spacecraft... sounds promising, but it's paywalled. For $17.50 though I might be able to get access to a dense academic tomb. Thanks, Google!

Result 3: Corrosion control and disinfection studies in spacecraft water systems... ah, another example of water system disinfection, not spacecraft decontamination.

In fact, the first several pages of google results are completely useless at answering the question of how do you disinfect the entire spacecraft?

*sigh* A few years ago I'd have said "you should read your links before you post them."

Re:Search for life (1, Funny)

mcgrew (92797) | about a year ago | (#44504133)

*sigh* A few years ago I'd have said "you should read your links before you post them."

Touche'. A few years ago Google still worked.

Re:Search for life (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44506067)

Google still works. It just requires a little more thought on what kind of terms [google.com] you would like to see in the articles you want to read. It could still use some tweaking.

Re:Search for life (4, Informative)

buchner.johannes (1139593) | about a year ago | (#44504287)

Result 2: Microbial Monitoring and Disinfection aboard NASA Spacecraft... sounds promising, but it's paywalled. For $17.50 though I might be able to get access to a dense academic tomb. Thanks, Google!

I put the name into Scholar [google.de] , and found a (free) PDF [gravitatio...iology.org] by the same author, 5 years later than that article.
It is comparing bacterial and fungal contamination of ISS, Mir and Shuttle missions.

Perhaps you are searching with the wrong keywords. Try "sterilization of spacecraft".
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Planetary_protection [wikipedia.org]

Re:Search for life (1)

2fuf (993808) | about a year ago | (#44507987)

He actually sent you a link to a... PDF?! Murder!!

Re:Search for life (2)

thereitis (2355426) | about a year ago | (#44505347)

I read recently that NASA basically catalogs what bacteria it can't eradicate and if it finds those bacteria on an alien planet will have to assume the source was contamination. I'm not sure how they'd plan to handle centuries from now if they found a descendent bacteria that was mostly unrecognizable from the original, cataloged bacteria.

Re:Search for life (1)

lxs (131946) | about a year ago | (#44506037)

By that time the organism has become a native of the planet so it doesn't matter anymore.

Re:Search for life (1)

thereitis (2355426) | about a year ago | (#44507687)

It still matters if you care where the species originated. For example, the difference between Europa (a) having originated life completely independently of Earth and (b) having been contaminated by life from earth and then evolved separately is very significant.

Re:Search for life (2)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about a year ago | (#44504817)

We even have self-replicating proteins (prions) that are so resistant that medical tools used on someone infected with mad cow have to be thrown away after, because they can't be adequately disinfected.

Prions are not "self-replicating" unless they are inside a cow, or other suitable host. They pose no threat of contamination, unless Europa has cows (and yes, I know all about the white bull: wrong Europa).

Re:Search for life (1)

dgatwood (11270) | about a year ago | (#44505569)

Alternative joke: Not to worry. Great Britain is not really part of Europa.

Re:Search for life (1)

morethanapapercert (749527) | about a year ago | (#44504973)

I've seen a lot of conversation over the fact that earth harbours many extremophiles. We have found life that survives, occasionally even thrives in environments that would be immediately fatal to the vast majority of life that we know of. The thing is though, I rarely see anyone pointing out a few key facts and questions:

1) Sure, life can survive in some pretty inhospitable environments, but can it arise in those environments? As i understand it, life as we know it arose in comparatively benign, even ideal conditions for the chemistry to work out well. Only after literally billions of years did life manage to evolve the ability to exist in the extreme environments we are just beginning to study and understand today. Saline geysers, black smokers and deep arctic boulders all apparently got colonized slowly over time by lifeforms that could handle just a bit more of the extreme condition(s) than its competitors. Step by step until they had evolved so far from the original environment it could no longer go back.

2) Sure, our probes and such could be contaminated by earthly microflora, but what are the odds that anything that could live in the shirtsleeve environment of a space vehicle assembly would also be able to survive long enough to reproduce at all in the environments we send them to? Europa has a surface temp of something like MINUS 160 Celsius. IIRC, the coldest ever recorded on Earth was like -90C. I'm not a chemist, but it seems to me that being in an environment where carbon chemistry flat out can't work because the environment is too cold is far more of a showstopper than the radiation level, aridity/liquidity, salinity or metallicity of the landing area. Can carbon based stereochemical reactions even occur at those sorts of low temperatures? IIRC, most of the possible alternative elemental bases for life chemistry, like sulfur and silianes require significant *higher* temperatures than anything carbon based could survive, so we are't likely to find any of those on Europa either.

Re:Search for life (1)

psithurism (1642461) | about a year ago | (#44505349)

What if we take a few small vats of all these new micro-organisms we've discovered in the Antarctic? We can generate whatever little excess heat and power we can to keep them from completely freezing on the journey and then drop/drill them as deep as we can. Some model's think that maybe the surface ice there might be in places only 1km thick, right? I know, it's unlikely that life will take, but at least it wouldn't be that much more far fetched than a plate with some naked people on it, or a record for alien turntables.

I feel it's our duty as the only space capable species on the planet to help the whole life stuffs out and get it on to other planets.

Re:Search for life (1)

lxs (131946) | about a year ago | (#44506059)

Nurse! Nurse! The Universe Domination Program that our alien creators implanted aeons ago has awakened in this one. Better bring out the sedative before we all end up in an X Files episode.

Re:Search for life (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44510659)

The Europa question is not a matter of how resilient life is, once initiated, but under how wide a range of conditions is life likely to develop?
I suppose the resiliency comes into play if significant amounts of Earth material ends up on Europa.

No comments? Well, OK. (1)

mcgrew (92797) | about a year ago | (#44503967)

That artist's rendering was awesome, but I want to see some photos taken from landers. Not a bad article.

2010 (5, Funny)

bmo (77928) | about a year ago | (#44503979)

ALL THESE WORLDS
ARE YOURS EXCEPT
EUROPA
ATTEMPT NO
LANDING THERE

Filter error: Don't use so many caps. Filter error: Don't use so many caps. Filter error: Don't use so many caps.

Re:2010 (4, Funny)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about a year ago | (#44504051)

Filter error: Don't use so many caps. Filter error: Don't use so many caps. Filter error: Don't use so many caps.

Imagine what would have happened had the puny Earthlings' communication network rejected HAL's message due to a triggered lameness filter.

Re:2010 (1)

girlintraining (1395911) | about a year ago | (#44504185)

Imagine what would have happened had the puny Earthlings' communication network rejected HAL's message due to a triggered lameness filter.

It would have looked like Daleks arguing with Cybermen [youtube.com]
.

Re:2010 (2)

techno-vampire (666512) | about a year ago | (#44505781)

What I'd like to see even more is an argument between the Borg and the Vogons about whether resistance is futile or useless. Personally, my money's on the Vogons; pure, unadulterated, bloody-minded stubbornness has its uses, sometimes.

Re:2010 (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44504643)

Pending Lucifer/Sol2, isn't Europa is still dormant and fair game?

Re:2010 (1)

symbolset (646467) | about a year ago | (#44505319)

Well I guess I can close one tab now as I was holding one open to post this.

Re:2010 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44505749)

Filter error: Don't use so many caps. Filter error: Don't use so many caps. Filter error: Don't use so many caps.

Filter error: "don't use so many caps" is redundant.

Filter error: "Filter error" is redundant.

Filter error: '"Filter error" is redundant' is recursive.

...

STACK OVERFLOW

Re:2010 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44507355)

Filter error: JOKE TOO OLD
Laughing failure.

Cynthia Phillips? (1)

k6mfw (1182893) | about a year ago | (#44504019)

Does she have a role in this team? I didn't see her name except in references. Cynthia gave interesting presentations about Europa, "When looking for life, go where the water is." Her bio at http://www.seti.org/users/cphillips [seti.org]

On another thread... alright you guys, cue in the references from "2010"....

Re:Cynthia Phillips? (-1)

mcgrew (92797) | about a year ago | (#44504109)

alright you guys, cue in the references from "2010"

Somebody already did, seconds before you posted. It is boringly obvious, isn't it? Maybe I'm getting old, I don't know how old you are. I'd mod them down if I had points.

I'll have to look up that scientist you referenced.

I wonder if these "no karma bonus" buttons work...

Streetligth effect (2)

gmuslera (3436) | about a year ago | (#44504067)

Could be life there, but, we will search for it in the right places [wikipedia.org] ? Some potential places for life could be hard to reach for a robotic probe that we could send. And will we be able to recognize it as life, if is different enough from what we have here?

Re:Streetligth effect (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44510957)

Even if the life is far beneath the surface, there seems to be enough upwelling to carry simple organisms or evidence of life to the surface.

Could they send some bloody microphones? (3, Funny)

gestalt_n_pepper (991155) | about a year ago | (#44504073)

The only thing we could missing is the sound of a thousand alien mating frogs.

Another important consideration (1)

Rollgunner (630808) | about a year ago | (#44504077)

If it is indeed a 'garden spot' for life, we should be extra careful to not send any wayward seeds with our robotic emissaries.

"Oh, hello deep-dwelling sentient beings. Yeah, sorry about those microbes that got stuck to our probe and seem to be causing your extinction."

O The Embarrassment.

#1 tool a robot probe could carry to Europa: (3, Insightful)

tlambert (566799) | about a year ago | (#44504151)

#1 tool a robot probe could carry to Europa: a human.

Seriously, is it any wonder no one watches launches any more?

Watching a robot probe go anywhere is "Great, Skynet explores another planet without us: big deal".

Re:#1 tool a robot probe could carry to Europa: (1)

buchner.johannes (1139593) | about a year ago | (#44504309)

Have we ever sent a person where it was certain, and known to them, that they would die?

Re:#1 tool a robot probe could carry to Europa: (1)

bmo (77928) | about a year ago | (#44504467)

Have we ever sent a person where it was certain, and known to them, that they could die?

Fixed.

And yes, all the time.

In the illuminating conversation posted online on the CPA Australia website, Armstrong revealed how he thought his mission, Apollo 11, only had a 50% chance of landing safely on the moon's surface and said it was "sad" that the current US government's ambitions for Nasa were so reduced compared with the achievements of the 1960s.

http://www.theguardian.com/science/2012/may/23/neil-armstrong-accountancy-website-moon-exclusive [theguardian.com]

And living here in New England, I have to say that plenty of people took their chances coming here in the early 17'th century, abandoning their old support networks and society without the promise of even making it through the next winter.

--
BMO

Re:#1 tool a robot probe could carry to Europa: (1)

buchner.johannes (1139593) | about a year ago | (#44504577)

It is not satisfactory when you change the question to the one you would like to answer.

Re:#1 tool a robot probe could carry to Europa: (1)

bmo (77928) | about a year ago | (#44504609)

It is not satisfactory

Tough Bananas. Deal With It.

--
BMO

Re:#1 tool a robot probe could carry to Europa: (1)

Type44Q (1233630) | about a year ago | (#44507923)

It is not satisfactory when you change the question to the one you would like to answer.

What, you lose half your brain in a car wreck? He's illustrating a point [thefreedictionary.com] .

Yes (1)

tlambert (566799) | about a year ago | (#44504793)

Have we ever sent a person where it was certain, and known to them, that they would die?

Tons of military missions. I guess we could recruit death row inmates as astronauts...

Re:#1 tool a robot probe could carry to Europa: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44506015)

It seems easy enough for us to do this in the context of warfare. Why not exploration?

Re:#1 tool a robot probe could carry to Europa: (1)

joe_frisch (1366229) | about a year ago | (#44504325)

Yes, but manned space is very expensive, and manned deep-space is basically impossible with present day budgets.

There are serious technical problems as well, but (like most things) they could be solved if the budget were there.

With the limited budgets we have, we get more science out of robots.

(and yes, personally I would happily pay my share and even work on a manned space program). I'm happy to see taxes increased very substantially even if only 10% of that went to space.

Re:#1 tool a robot probe could carry to Europa: (1)

flayzernax (1060680) | about a year ago | (#44507367)

Replace budget with politics and or information control and your a winner.

The total cost in currency is great. But the actually "energy needed" is not extremely high compared to what we exert on other tasks.

We could direct a great deal of effort to space exploration and development. But our OVERLORDS disallow this.

The knowledge and information is pretty well fleshed out. Or at least the solid basis of it is. /tinfoilhat

Re:#1 tool a robot probe could carry to Europa: (4, Interesting)

cpt kangarooski (3773) | about a year ago | (#44504371)

Humans would quickly die of radiation poisoning on the surface of Europa if they didn't have lots of shielding. Jupiter has massive radiation belts that basically make everything inside of the orbit of Callisto off limits to us.

Lets stick with unmanned probes for now.

Re:#1 tool a robot probe could carry to Europa: (1)

Skrapion (955066) | about a year ago | (#44506397)

Luckily, water absorbs radiation quite well.

Rapture on Europa, anyone?

What could possibly go wrong?

Re:#1 tool a robot probe could carry to Europa: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44510995)

Depends if a lethal dose is received within a matter of hours (or less), upon approach...

Re:#1 tool a robot probe could carry to Europa: (2)

miniMUNCH (662195) | about a year ago | (#44505407)

In addition to the significant radiation problem (pointed out already).

The spacecraft changes from something the size of a small car for a robotic mission to something much more massive to support human life for the 6+ year trip to Europa.

We simply don't have the "technology <--> budget" combo to do a manned mission to Europa within the first half of this century. We need major game-changing tech breakthroughs to carry out a human mission even to Mars, let alone the Jovian planets.

A a robotic landing mission to Europa is technically feasible right now given a sufficient budget. We don't have all the technology properly glued together: but we can navigate a 'mother ship' spacecraft to Jupiter, can maneuver the craft to make numerous precision passes of Europa, we have autonomous vehicle control theory and codes which can improved upon and readied for a Europa landing, and we can design and fabricate the spacecraft. There are some serious challenges, of course, and success is not guaranteed, but it is doable.

Re:#1 tool a robot probe could carry to Europa: (1)

Tastecicles (1153671) | about a year ago | (#44509063)

the price (money terms) of putting something in orbit does not decrease the more you throw up there, nor does it as time goes on, nor does it as more efficient engines are developed.

The idea of the Eden Project was to try and create an entirely enclosed, self-sufficient environment designed to support up to a dozen humans. Apart from the air leaks, the odd contaminants (at least one of which prompted immediate evacuation because it released highly toxic gases), mass plant die-off which caused the oxygen levels to crash, and odd nutrition imbalances which required medical intervention, it was largely successful. They ran in to problems they hadn't even thought of. Once they had a fairly comprehensive list of problems and solutions, they figured out that for each human crew member on any sort of Mars or Europa mission, they would need enough food and oxygen to last them the entire trip because they could not rely on hydro or airponics to provide. Water no problem, we've had mechanical filters for that for years. As long as you don't mind drinking your own recycled piss for a dozen years.

So from that, they figured that each human crew member would need something like five tons of consumables per mission-year. For a crew of a dozen, that's 60,000kg+ of food and oxygen to get into orbit. Plus the fuel to lift it and the containers they're in, plus the fuel to lift the fuel... on a twelve year mission that's 720 tons of consumables, plus container modules, plus fuel, plus the total weight of the launcher and fuel to lift that... numbers soon get ridiculous.

The Apollo program used 3,000 tons (6.5 million pounds) of launcher to lift 120 tons of payload (CSM and LEM, plus astronauts plus 3 days of food, water and oxygen (consumables)) for a Lunar mission that lasted but a week. Most (about 92%) of that mass was fuel, 90% of which was expended just getting the fucking thing off the ground. How big is the Europa mission launcher needing to be if launched from the bottom of Earth's gravity well?

Re:#1 tool a robot probe could carry to Europa: (2)

betterprimate (2679747) | about a year ago | (#44505981)

I would vote flowers. Think of recording the exposure of plant life on the surface of Europa; a demonstration of the resiliency of life. If anything else, the footage would be absolutely beautiful and fantastic.

Re:#1 tool a robot probe could carry to Europa: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44506221)

Did you think that through, Dave?

My Motto, Be Gentle (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44504161)

You'll eventually find it, when searching for life in Uranus.

didn't they pay attention? (1)

Tastecicles (1153671) | about a year ago | (#44504183)

"All these worlds are yours, except Europa.
Attempt no landing there.
Use them together.
Use them in peace."

We're boned.

Lithobraking (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | about a year ago | (#44504463)

It hasn't worked well so far. There have been a few failed penetrator probes but I wonder if Europa is the place to make it work. Identify a soft spot in the ice and power straight down.

Or take advantage of the smooth icy surface and try a variant on the martian airbag lander. No doubt it would roll for a few hundred km and finish up in a low spot, but it saves you 1.5 km/s of delta-v.

A Drill and A Sequencer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44504953)

Send a lander to crawl where the ice is weak,
look for places where the waters leak.
Drill in and take a water sample,
analyze it and admire the bosoms ample.
When the results come, open a beer;
the day is almost done, the victory near.
Let a NASA guard wonder in the middle,
dress up, and show him your finger.
So as life is found, it is created and provoked.

NSA? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44504999)

I came here looking for NSA jokes and was disappointed.

All your base are belong to us (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44505169)

Waiting for that moment when Aliens think that we've grown far enough with our space adventures and tells us to make our time. HA-HA-HA-HA-HA.

JPL Speak (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44505441)

What the JPL team is stating is "Do we go in with a condom or raw?"

Going in with a condom can take decades; this IS Obama's preferred solution ... because he will not be the President to have to OK or NOT OK it. Har de har har.

Rawing it ... the JPL solution ... will just do it and learn along the way in a series of stages to reach the intended goal. A drill rig on Europa and penetrating the ice cover, without contamination, to the ocean below, retrieving several samples and returning the samples to Earth for analysis and study.

This IS JPL at best and Obama at worst.

What say YOU.

Go back to the moon first, please... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44505525)

Before planning to go to Europa, perhaps we should plan to GO BACK TO THE MOON FIRST!!!!

Re:Go back to the moon first, please... (1)

Tastecicles (1153671) | about a year ago | (#44509159)

that would be sensible I think (why did you post AC?), because lifting the fuel required for a trip like this, from Earth, would be ridiculous... better to harvest raw materials for fuel from someplace with a shallower gravity well (like the Moon, they just found permanent water ice in the polar craters - bonus!) and launch the big leg of the mission from low orbit there. Advantages: no atmosphere to deal with, you can orbit as low as you like - you can buzz the mountains. Launching from low orbit (not static launch site - orbit) is the most fuel efficient way to go. For that matter, build the mission in low Lunar orbit, fuel it up from Lunar ground stations maybe using robotic shuttles then you're good to go, you wouldn't even have to send any humans up there until the spacecraft is fully ready and fueled.

Ummm, I thought (1)

Ralph Spoilsport (673134) | about a year ago | (#44505661)

We were supposed to leave that one alone....

I don't know if they could have found a stupider l (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44505803)

I don't know if they could have found a stupider looking picture

http://i.space.com/images/i/000/031/564/i02/Bigelow_Media_Briefing_garver_new.jpg?1375917011

(posting this for a future NASA story in a past NASA story.).

Re:I don't know if they could have found a stupide (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44505845)

Bonus pints! My subject looks like it says, "I don't know if they could have found a stupider I" which is kind of funny. However, that is a lowercase L at the end and not an upper-case I.

In ariel helvetica, l looks like I

Fascinating.

Priorities (4, Insightful)

betterprimate (2679747) | about a year ago | (#44506049)

Can we give the NSA, DHS, CIA budget to NASA? You know, let's do something as a people. The only difference between the U.S. and other great empires, is that the U.S. government and leaders give fuck all about artistic, philosophical, and scientific endeavors. You know, the stuff that gives us dignity as a people. They use to. Or at least pretended to.

Man, do I oft times wish I lived in a different culture. I'm sick of this fascist corporate utilitarianism. What's the progress? The only thing the U.S. gave to the world was done by our impoverished and enslaved. Now, we can't even have viable land to grow for our personal needs.

France could sound cool; you have to give props to a culture that created Joan of Arc. What current cultures are there that welcome such endeavors? Really, I want to know.

Re:Priorities (1)

Type44Q (1233630) | about a year ago | (#44507851)

What's the progress?

Fruitless question; what you need to be asking is "who has benefited from this current sorry-ass state of affairs?" (Identifying a solution - not just lamenting the situation - requires identifying the problem.)

Re:Priorities (1)

khallow (566160) | about a year ago | (#44508147)

You know you could do it yourself. If the project is a bit bigger than you think you can handle, then get some help from like minded people.

Re:Priorities (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44508811)

You know you could do it yourself. If the project is a bit bigger than you think you can handle, then get some help from like minded people.

That usually doesn't work. Getting help from like minded people usually ends in creating political entities who lobby for favors and privileges from government (or maybe they become the government and grant themselves privileges) instead of getting things done.

No, you need to get help from people who can do the job, who can make a return on your investment.

NASA is a case of "like minded people" gathering together to do something. They cared so much about their ideas that things like costs and efficiency become secondary.

To actually get things done, and to answer GP/OP's question on what America has offered the world culturally, you can look at cases like Steve Jobs (of course he didn't "invent" new tech, but culture he accelerated the world towards mobile computing). He had his own vision and he was not compromising. The people he hired had to first and foremost be able to do their job (in engineering, programming, etc), not whether they are "like minded people" to Steve (few people qualified... again he had his own vision)

Re:Priorities (1)

khallow (566160) | about a year ago | (#44513293)

That usually doesn't work. Getting help from like minded people usually ends in creating political entities who lobby for favors and privileges from government (or maybe they become the government and grant themselves privileges) instead of getting things done.

It's the way it's worked in the past. If you make a positive return on investment, whatever that means to you, so much the better.

Re:Priorities (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44518869)

It's the way it's worked in the past.

Only if you lower your standards on what passes for "worked". I guess slavery and imperialism "worked" to an extent. Monarchies and feudalism "worked" to an extent. That's what worked in the past.

If you make a positive return on investment, whatever that means to you, so much the better.

Return on investment is not a luxury. It has to be there, or the activity, whatever it is, should not be done. If you insist on doing it you'll cause more harm than good. One of the major problems with NASA (and many governments today) is they don't look at return on investment. They just keep throwing(printing) money at the problem and hope it gets solved, without questioning whether it's worth it to solve the problem (or if the "problem" is really a problem at all)

Re:Priorities (1)

khallow (566160) | about a year ago | (#44521027)

Only if you lower your standards on what passes for "worked".

I'm merely pointing out that is how you get things to work for projects bigger than what a single person can accomplish. It doesn't matter if you're launching something to orbit, building a cathedral, or bottling flavored carbonated water for mass consumption. Or siphoning considerable money from the public for that matter.

As to "like minded", I ignored your Steve Jobs story because liked minded doesn't mean similar mental characteristics or memories, it just means that people share some significant common goals, such as all employees of Apple do.

Return on investment is not a luxury.

Well, I sense you speak of ROI in a limited financial sense. When I speak of "return", I include intangibles that someone is willing to pay their own money for.

It's worth noting here that there's probably quite a bit being pursued by NASA that the various parties involved would be completely unwilling to commit their own funds to seeing through. When most of what an organization does is via other peoples' money, committed unwillingly, then that strikes me as a great example of what should not be done.

Let's go back to one other thing you said:

Getting help from like minded people usually ends in creating political entities who lobby for favors and privileges from government (or maybe they become the government and grant themselves privileges) instead of getting things done.

That's a lethal dynamic of our current society not an inevitable consequence of a bunch of people cooperating towards a common goal. When it's easier to lobby government for money rather than doing work, then we should blame the perverse incentives in place not discount such cooperation.

Re:Priorities (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44522705)

I'm merely pointing out that is how you get things to work for projects bigger than what a single person can accomplish.

And I was merely correcting you in that you get those things done by working with people who can do the job. Whether they shared your goal is secondary, if not lower than that.

As to "like minded", I ignored your Steve Jobs story because liked minded doesn't mean similar mental characteristics or memories, it just means that people share some significant common goals, such as all employees of Apple do.

False. Employees of Apple do not share significant common goals. They share some very high level common goals, but those are not of significance towards actually getting the job done. I'm sure MS or Blackberry had common goals to Apple (get rich, make a successful mobile device, whatever you think they are). That doesn't help them actually accomplish those goals.

Just because you shared Steve's goals, doesn't mean you'll be a good programmer, or engineer, or manager, etc to see the project through. Having goals are like having ideas, and they're both cheap. It's execution that matters.

Well, I sense you speak of ROI in a limited financial sense. When I speak of "return", I include intangibles that someone is willing to pay their own money for.

You sensed wrong. I also include intangibles.

It's worth noting here that there's probably quite a bit being pursued by NASA that the various parties involved would be completely unwilling to commit their own funds to seeing through

And NASA is an entity created based on a people sharing a significant common goal, and in their attempt to stick to this common goal they neglect things like ROI (tangible or otherwise) and thus now we get parties who wouldn't pay their own funds to see it through, but they're stuck to commit to the common goal, unwillingly as you noted.

So yes, NASA is a good example of why what you said doesn't work. People having to commit unwillingly is a consequence of committing to a "common goal". That "common goal" ends up controlling you instead of the other way around. You lose control, you can't back out, so you end up continuing to commit unwillingly.

That's a lethal dynamic of our current society not an inevitable consequence of a bunch of people cooperating towards a common goal.

No, this is not a modern phenomenon. It is inevitable when the goal is of any significance. Again, you can have common high level goals, but when it comes to accomplishing them, it's the actual execution that matters.

The US was founding one some grand common goals: life, liberty, pursuit of happiness, yadda yadda. But they are high level goals. If the colonists couldn't actually deliver and win the war (with a lot of the help of the French, whose goals were more about giving Britain the finger), the Founding Fathers would be no better than us slashdotters: a bunch of somewhat well off geeks who say nice philosophical things but don't actually do much about it. At best they try to do something and fail, and they become marginalized like OWS or the lulzsec/Anonymous kids who get arrested.

When it's easier to lobby government for money rather than doing work, then we should blame the perverse incentives in place not discount such cooperation.

The "common goal" IS the perverse incentive. That's exactly what politicians sell: telling (lying to) people they share common goals to get their votes/money/rights. That's how government expands - by taking on more and more "common goals" with the people.

Re:Priorities (1)

khallow (566160) | about a year ago | (#44523197)

The "common goal" IS the perverse incentive. That's exactly what politicians sell: telling (lying to) people they share common goals to get their votes/money/rights. That's how government expands - by taking on more and more "common goals" with the people.

Provide evidence for that assertion. Just because someone claims to have a common goal, doesn't mean that they do.

Re:Priorities (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44523973)

Provide evidence for that assertion. Just because someone claims to have a common goal, doesn't mean that they do.

War on Drugs
War on Terror, Patriot Act and all the security theater
ObamaCare
Southern Strategy

And there are actually people who mean what they say. Their irrational moral compasses actually thinks "we" should all participate in their "common goal" in regulating drugs or guns or the Internet or education or the bedroom or who gets to marry whom. Think of the children!

Re:Priorities (1)

khallow (566160) | about a year ago | (#44524251)

War on Drugs
War on Terror, Patriot Act and all the security theater
ObamaCare
Southern Strategy

Note what I said, "just because someone claims to have a common goal, doesn't mean that they do." Every single one of your examples is such a case where the people pushing the project/plan had ulteriour motives for doing so.

"War on Drugs". Nixon needed to look tough on crime. Druggies aren't popular with the voters. And subsequent expansions of power to seize property used in drug transactions was a great way to increase the budget and power of law enforcement organizations.

"War on Terror", "Patriot Act", all that. Naked power grab under the pretense of protecting us from the terrorists.

"Obamacare". Complete failure as health care reform. Huge gift to insurance companies. Substantially increases the power of the federal government and creates precedent for future control of US citizen economic behavior.

"Southern Strategy." Classic "us versus them" fake.

Their irrational moral compasses actually thinks "we" should all participate in their "common goal" in regulating drugs or guns or the Internet or education or the bedroom or who gets to marry whom.

So what? This is completely irrelevant to my claim. I didn't say, "Come up with an idea and then force the US population to go along with it." Note that none of these examples have anything to do with my idea, a group of like-minded people coming together to do something.

Re:Priorities (1)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | about a year ago | (#44509261)

What the hell? Spoken like a ignorant stereotype of Americans. At what point, exactly did the US government EVER give fuck all about artistic, philosophical, and scientific endeavors? The only reason NASA was funded in the first place was the Space Race. Afterwards science was funded out of pure selfishness, in order to be #1.

As a US citizen, it is remarkably easy to travel around the world. I suggest trying. World travel is a great enlightened - you see exactly how fucked-up the rest of the world is. In addition lots and lots of Americans can't stand living anywhere but America. The food is all wrong, the climate is uncomfortable, the locals constantly scheme and cheat foreigners, I could go on and on. A quick trip to an expat bar should give you dozens of stories. For example, I got my ass kicked a couple of months ago because some guy didn't like Americans. "Fuck Boston" he said in English, less than 24 hours after Muslims blew up the Boston Marathon. By the way, as an expat the IRS will consider you a traitorous tax-dodger until proven otherwise.

According to my French friends (I've lived out of America for 10 years now BTW) the France of today is a shadow of what it once was. Unsafe, taxed to hell, even the French language itself is being eroded by a steady stream of Englishisms.

If you don't like America, I suggest getting the fuck out and stop complaining. I think you will very quickly find that you hate it. Most Americans do. If not, then welcome to the tiny community of Americans who live abroad and love it.

Re:Priorities (1)

betterprimate (2679747) | about a year ago | (#44514347)

Calm down a little, no?

What the hell? Spoken like a ignorant stereotype of Americans. At what point, exactly did the US government EVER give fuck all about artistic, philosophical, and scientific endeavors? The only reason NASA was funded in the first place was the Space Race. Afterwards science was funded out of pure selfishness, in order to be #1.

You will probably have to stretch a little farther back to discover U.S. politicians reverence of artistic and scientific pursuits. Let me pull one strange character from our history books: William Hope Harvey. In his own words:

"... The record of ancient civilizations which we have unearthed do not tell the merits and demerits of those civilizations, the struggles of those people and why they fell. The Pyramid to be erected here will contain all such records. Upon opening the Pyramid and reading the documents contained therein, mankind thousands of years hence will learn of the railroads, the telegraph, the linotype, the flying machine and of the circulation of the blood through the human body, all discoveries of the last 400 years. ..."

"... Wonderful discoveries have been made by this civilization in a knowledge of the universe and in the sciences as applied to the human anatomy and industries, but comparatively few in statesmanship and non in the study of civilization as a science. Upon the mastery of this latter depends the perfection of a civilization. Nothing less than this in the mental and soul structure embraces this all import divine knowledge.

"... This purpose of the Pyramid is as stated and the person no one will be entombed therein. There will be nothing about it that partakes of self or vanity and no one's name will appear on the outside of it. The only inscription will be what appears on the metal plates.

In short, there are thousands more from the 19th century. You may need to find their accounts in books; you won't find much on Google. One thing is certain, they do not resemble our politicians today.

As a US citizen, it is remarkably easy to travel around the world. I suggest trying. World travel is a great enlightened - you see exactly how fucked-up the rest of the world is. In addition lots and lots of Americans can't stand living anywhere but America. The food is all wrong, the climate is uncomfortable, the locals constantly scheme and cheat foreigners, I could go on and on.

I thought you said it was remarkably easy? ;) I am currently abroad and have experienced all the pitfalls. Some places are far worse than others (i.e. being robbed by the police, extorted.)

According to my French friends (I've lived out of America for 10 years now BTW) the France of today is a shadow of what it once was.

I can understand your French friends; these aren't the days of 19th century France before the wars. France never seemed to fully recover from them.

If you don't like America, I suggest getting the fuck out and stop complaining. I think you will very quickly find that you hate it. Most Americans do. If not, then welcome to the tiny community of Americans who live abroad and love it.

If you've traveled extensively, are there cultures you'd recommend? And in which countries/regions are you able to obtain long-term visas? What are your thoughts? I hear good things about Berlin and Tokyo.

Re:Priorities (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44511339)

USA gave freedom to 2 bln ppl in the last 100 yrs...does that count?

Re:Priorities (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44513797)

Trying to decide if this is an elaborately constructed troll, or if you are really this lame.

Venus Prime (1)

greichert (464285) | about a year ago | (#44506737)

Reminds me of "The Diamond Moon", volume 5 of the "Venus Prime" book serie by Paul Preuss (based on novels by Arthur C Clarke, again him!).

They explore Europa by drilling into the ice layer and using a submarine to navigate the water below. Interesting books for sci-fi fans!

I am European (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44507143)

No need for a sending a robot first.
Normally you guys bring way to much luggage and take care current is 230V.
Life is quite ok in Europa.

Re:I am European (1)

Control-Z (321144) | about a year ago | (#44511751)

We are curious about your strange land and hope to visit some day.

Europa is cool, so is Titan (1)

Andover Chick (1859494) | about a year ago | (#44508043)

Europa is an excellent place as is Saturn's Titan. Both should be explored. Why? Because it is a freaking awesome thing to do! Whether it is skating on an icy surface or sailing on sailing on a sea of methane, both are fantastic challenges. Too bad decades of space exploration cost cutting have reduced the amount of exploration awesomeness.

Already Seen This Before (1)

Mateorabi (108522) | about a year ago | (#44509259)

Europa Report [magnetreleasing.com]

Funniest part was when ground control plays the 2001 waltz to the crew as they leave earth orbit.

NASA should but out of Europan policies (1)

hardluck86 (2653957) | about a year ago | (#44509613)

What right does NASA have to set priorities for a European surface mission?
Shouldn't that be up to the Europeans to decide what their priorities are for their own surface?
Typical Americans always trying to tell other people how to run things and --

Wait, what?

That's "Europa the moon of Jupiter" not "Europe the continent on Earth"?

Oh.

NEVER MIIIIND!

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