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 Laying Foundation For Jupiter Moon Space Mission

samzenpus posted about 4 months ago | from the here-we-go dept.

Space 100

coondoggie (973519) writes "NASA recently began laying out the groundwork for the technology it will need to fly an unmanned mission to Jupiter's intriguing moon Europa. Scientists say Europa — which orbits the planet Jupiter about 778 million km (484 million miles) from the Sun — could support life because it might have an ocean of liquid water under its miles-thick frozen crust. NASA said in December the Hubble Space Telescope observed water vapor above the frigid south polar region of Jupiter's moon Europa, providing the first strong evidence of water plumes erupting off the moon's surface."

cancel ×

100 comments

What's been the hold up???? (3, Interesting)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | about 4 months ago | (#46685365)

Probably the best chance of finding LIFE in the solar system and NASA is still tipping over rocks on Mars.

Re:What's been the hold up???? (4, Informative)

Overzeetop (214511) | about 4 months ago | (#46685469)

It's way the fuck out there, bathed in EM radiation, and goddamned cold. Mars is right next door and practically balmy in comparison.

Re:What's been the hold up???? (4, Insightful)

schlachter (862210) | about 4 months ago | (#46685505)

but it doesn't have oceans.

AND, there are lots of other interesting moons out that way. good to establish a precedent that this far out exploration can be done.

Re:What's been the hold up???? (-1, Flamebait)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | about 4 months ago | (#46685665)

AND, there are lots of other interesting moons out that way. good to establish a precedent that this far out exploration can be done.

Why don't the US ask Russia which one they're going to, and beg for a lift.

It's been working for the local service...

Re:What's been the hold up???? (5, Informative)

thrich81 (1357561) | about 4 months ago | (#46686511)

"Why don't the US ask Russia which one they're going to, and beg for a lift"
One reason might be that the Russians have never (that is - not ever, not even once, not even attempted) launched a mission to the outer planets, neither have the Europeans; only the USA has shown the capability, several times over, starting in 1972 with Pioneer 10 and most recently Juno to Jupiter in 2011.
The US has plenty of unmanned launch capability and does it all the time with Atlas's and Delta's and Falcons. The US has a temporary lapse in human capable launch vehicles and spacecraft which is unfortunate, but that is being remedied on multiple fronts and to extrapolate that to, "the US should ask Russia for help to the outer planets" shows a complete ignorance of the history and state of outer planet exploration.

Re:What's been the hold up???? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46686849)

Rosetta is an ESA probe. It doesn't plan on visiting outer planets since its main objective is a comet but its orbit brings it a little beyond jupiter.

Re:What's been the hold up???? (3, Informative)

Trapezium Artist (919330) | about 4 months ago | (#46688221)

Quite. Rosetta has been on a ten year journey around the Solar System, using Earth and Mars fly-bys to wind its orbit up to meet with 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in August this year. At its most distant point from the Sun, it was beyond the orbit of Jupiter, but the comet rendezvous will take place at about 3AU, before the comet becomes active as it moves closer into the inner Solar System.

As for outer planet missions, the NASA-led and launched Cassini mission also carried ESA's Huygens probe, which performed the most distant ever landing in the Solar System when it landed on the surface of Titan in 2005.

But the elephant in the room here is ESA's JUICE mission, which is a real mission, not a study, already under implementation for a launch to Jupiter and its icy moons in 2022. JUICE will conduct a number of close fly-bys of Europa, but due to the dangerous radiation environment, will ultimately end up in orbit around Ganymede, another icy moon thought to host a deep ocean below the surface. And NASA are also involved in this mission, providing some of the instruments.

Re:What's been the hold up???? (2)

thrich81 (1357561) | about 4 months ago | (#46689027)

I'm aware of JUICE and wish them well. I wish I had thought of Rosetta and would have given ESA credit for that one in my original post. I was also aware of Cassini-Huygens but finessed that by saying only NASA had "launched" outer planet missions. So let me apologize for not giving the Europeans full credit for what they have done/are planning, caveated with a big, "It's about time!". Europe has had an economy larger than that of the US for a while now, and always bigger than Russia's -- why have they been such slackers in space exploration? Obviously, the cold war competition between the USA and the Soviets gave space exploration its initial kick, but I'm still disappointed that Europe and Japan didn't come along stronger over the last 30 years. And since the late 90's there hasn't been any cold war space race, but the US planetary program has been as strong as ever. Any Europeans or Japanese want to weigh in? Is it that without the national pride/competition thing the US and Russians had, space just isn't considered worth the Euros and Yen?

Re:What's been the hold up???? (3, Informative)

Ranbot (2648297) | about 4 months ago | (#46687085)

but it doesn't have oceans.

AND, there are lots of other interesting moons out that way. good to establish a precedent that this far out exploration can be done.

You aren't paying nearly enough attention.

1) NASA already landed a probe on Titan (the Huygens probe) so there's your precedent.

2) The previous point above that it's "goddam cold" is exactly right. Power sources, electronics, moving parts/mechanisms, etc. don't operate well (understatement) at the extreme cold that would be encountered at Europa. The Huygens probe was only expected to last mere minutes of operation at Titan's surface due to the extreme cold, and you can expect the same from Europa. So, there's a heck of a lot more engineering involved in getting to and then do anything useful on Europa vs Mars.

Re:What's been the hold up???? (1)

Trapezium Artist (919330) | about 4 months ago | (#46688297)

Actually, ESA built the Huygens lander which descended to the surface of Titan. It was carried there on the NASA-ASI Cassini orbiter after being launched by a NASA rocket, but Huygens was European-built, with instruments from Europe and the US.

Its the U-571 gambit: keep saying that things were achieved by the US independent of the truth of the matter, and pretty soon it becomes received knowledge.

Re:What's been the hold up???? (2)

Ranbot (2648297) | about 4 months ago | (#46688377)

Thanks for the clarification. I don't mean to take anything away from other's achievements.

Re:What's been the hold up???? (2)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 4 months ago | (#46685619)

The surface of Europa certainly is, but one would assume that a thick ice layer and a large body of liquid water would provide at least a reasonable amount of protection for any life that might exist below.

Re:Thick ice layter (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46685663)

We'll never get through the thick ice layer. So your idea is to putz around on the surface, hoping that something was expelled by an ice volcano? Or did you watch this [imdb.com] movie one too many times?

Re:Thick ice layter (3, Interesting)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 4 months ago | (#46685673)

Have you ever actually read anything about Europa? There are fracture points all along its surface where the ocean might be very close to the surface.

Re:Thick ice layter (4, Insightful)

pixelpusher220 (529617) | about 4 months ago | (#46686145)

We'll never get through the thick ice layer.

We'll never be able to fly
We'll never be able to go into space
We'll never be able to land on the moon
We'll never be able to have civil and informative political discussions....

Ok, the 4th might be true, but 'never' and human ingenuity shouldn't be lumped together very often.

Re:Thick ice layter (1)

crunchygranola (1954152) | about 4 months ago | (#46686373)

We'll never get through the thick ice layer...?

Because you have complete knowledge of all present and future drilling technologies?

If only someone, somewhere had a good idea about how to do this! Wait, what's this [astrobio.net] ? Oh how I love this "Google" thing.

Re:Thick ice layter (1)

Squidlips (1206004) | about 4 months ago | (#46686863)

Europa is constantly being resurfaced and even has a for of tectonics in which fresh brine water is brought to the surface like the mid-ocean ridges on Earth. Also there are plumes and other ways that the ocean water gets to the surface.

Re:Thick ice layter (1)

DickBreath (207180) | about 4 months ago | (#46687827)

Wouldn't a 75 KW plutonium powered heater do the trick for getting through the ice?

Now once you get through the ice, the ocean dwellers below might not be happy about it.

Re:What's been the hold up???? (2)

Squidlips (1206004) | about 4 months ago | (#46685701)

The plumes make it possible to directly sample the water under the ice and look for organics; a very, very tempting prospect.

Re:What's been the hold up???? (3, Interesting)

mrsquid0 (1335303) | about 4 months ago | (#46685783)

The plumes are probably from short-lived pockets of recently melted water near the surface. It is very unlikely that they are directly connected to the underlying ocean, which may be 100 km or more beneath the ice surface.

Re:What's been the hold up???? (2)

pixelpusher220 (529617) | about 4 months ago | (#46686183)

It is very unlikely that they are directly connected to the underlying ocean

You know what's 'very unlikely'? A /. poster having any clue about Europa that NASA doesn't already know in it's sleep.

how do you think volcanoes work? melting rock only near the surface?

Besides, with ice formation it doesn't destroy evidence of organisms that were in the water.

Re:What's been the hold up???? (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 4 months ago | (#46686265)

Indeed. Even in the pretty intense radiation around Jupiter, I imagine at least some trace of organic chemistry that might be going on below the ice ought to survive. Sampling plume residue seems like a logical first step.

Re:What's been the hold up???? (3, Interesting)

mrsquid0 (1335303) | about 4 months ago | (#46686475)

Um... Where do you think I work?

Re:What's been the hold up???? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46687433)

Oh, I know... McDonald's right? What do I win?

Re:What's been the hold up???? (2)

Squidlips (1206004) | about 4 months ago | (#46686835)

Show me the article that says this. At this point we have to assume that the plume are similar to the plume on Enceladus and coming from the ocean. And even if it was near-surface melts, the ice originally derived from the ocean and thus, because of the constant re-surfacing of Europa, it would still have organics, if there are organics in the ocean. So MrSquid; why are all your post negative? [I think I know why...]

Re:What's been the hold up???? (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 4 months ago | (#46687719)

They're negative because he's likely a chronic underachiever who props up his ego with hyperskepticism.

Re:What's been the hold up???? (1)

Squidlips (1206004) | about 4 months ago | (#46685651)

Exactly. Why has NASA been dragging their feet? They have been studying this mission for 10 years at least without funding it. The reason is simple: NASA is run by ex-astronauts and pilots who prefer manned missions to unmanned even though there is almost no scientific return from manned missions. The other reason is good old Houston politics and money; there are billions of dollars at stake in keeping the manned mission pork flowing for pointless projects such as the Rocket to Nowhere (the SLS); the unmanned missions (Science Directorate) our of Pasadena has no political pull.

Re:What's been the hold up???? (4, Informative)

mrsquid0 (1335303) | about 4 months ago | (#46685843)

That is not the reason. The reason that there has not been a dedicated Europa mission is because it will be a very expensive mission and the money is not available. The reason that the money is not available is because the US government does not want to give NASA the required funding. If the US congress offered to give NASA the money, and kept the funding going for the 15-20 years that would be required to do a long-term exploration of Europa, then NASA would jump at the opportunity. There is also a matter of rivalries between JPL and various NASA centers, but a reliable funding stream would go a long way towards resolving those.

Jupiter is hard [Re:What's been the hold up????] (1)

Geoffrey.landis (926948) | about 4 months ago | (#46686807)

Exactly. Why has NASA been dragging their feet? They have been studying this mission for 10 years at least without funding it.

It gets proposed, but every time a proposal takes a serious look at how expensive it would be, the funding isn't there, and they are asked to scale back.

Jupiter is hard. Jupiter is nearly a billion kilometers away-- Mars is hard, but even at its furthest, it's only a quarter billion kilometers distant. Compared to Jupiter, Mars is easy. Jupiter also has a huge gravitational potential (which makes it hard to stop when you get there), and that doesn't even get to the issue of landing on Europa once you get there (no aerobraking nor parachutes for Europa!) and the difficulty of penetrating the ice.

Clearly the first thing needed is just a probe that can take a deep penetrating radar [usra.edu] to the system and find out just how thick the ice over the interior ocean of Europa is [nasa.gov] , and whether there are places that are thinner than others, and whether cracks go down all the way to make an easier route to the interior. That would be a lot easier than actually trying to land, much less access the ocean... but even that is not at all easy. When you're in Jupiter orbit you're having to operate in a ferocious radiation environment.

Re:Jupiter is hard [Re:What's been the hold up???? (1)

k6mfw (1182893) | about 4 months ago | (#46698789)

Europa may be hard but I like to imagine a submarine launched into the water below and take pictures of the little fishes. Well maybe not but as SETI's Cynthia Phillips says when looking for life go where the water is.

Re:What's been the hold up???? (1)

Spugglefink (1041680) | about 4 months ago | (#46688359)

We just have to convince someone that water from Europa is a miracle tonic that grows hair and enlarges the penis. The funding will take care of itself.

Re:What's been the hold up???? (1)

Squidlips (1206004) | about 4 months ago | (#46695727)

Based on recent actions, if Congress gave NASA the money, NASA would divert it to manned space pork. Congress want planetary science to continue at NASA, but NASA and the Administration seemed determined to kill it. The whole reason Carl Sagan and Bruce Murray started the Planetary Society was to stop the poaching of funds from planetary science (such as a Europa mission) to fuel manned spaceflights. Sagan must be rolling in his grave now: http://www.planetary.org/blogs... [planetary.org]

Re:What's been the hold up???? (1)

pixelpusher220 (529617) | about 4 months ago | (#46686213)

Nope. George Bush tried to cancel the Voyager programs (for a paltry 4 million in savings). He was informed there would be a human shield preventing anyone trying to turn them off.

Re:What's been the hold up???? (3, Interesting)

bobbied (2522392) | about 4 months ago | (#46686569)

He was informed there would be a human shield preventing anyone trying to turn them off.

Not to void your political views.... Voyager probes are by necessity being slowly turned off one part at a time as power from the reactor declines. As more and more power is lost, they've had to turn off things and we will be pretty much done by 2025 no matter what we do. Personally I'm all for continuing the mission as long as there is unique science they can do, but if we've reached the end, we've reached the end.

Re:What's been the hold up???? (2)

pixelpusher220 (529617) | about 4 months ago | (#46688105)

Nope, it was a cost cutting measure pure and simple. There's plenty the voyager's can still do that absolutely nothing else can or will be able to do for the next 40 years - measure the heliopause.

They haven't reached the end...hence why NASA stood in pretty heavy lockstep to protect them.

Re:What's been the hold up???? (1)

bobbied (2522392) | about 4 months ago | (#46688319)

Nope, it was a cost cutting measure pure and simple. There's plenty the voyager's can still do that absolutely nothing else can or will be able to do for the next 40 years - measure the heliopause.

By 2025, there will not be enough power on the Voyager 1 spacecraft to run any of it's sensors, even if we can talk to it, there won't be much information we can get. The gyroscopes are expected to stop working sometime around 2016, which may make continued communications impossible after that date. Voyager 2 is not that far behind. So we have less than 2 more years of expected ability to communicate with the spacecraft. All of this has nothing to do with NASA's budget but the expected limitations of the spacecraft itself, which we cannot change at this point.

Re:What's been the hold up???? (1)

Squidlips (1206004) | about 4 months ago | (#46686887)

The Bush admin was responsible for a lot of current missions such as the Curiosity Rover on Mars. Obama Admin? Nothing.

Re:What's been the hold up???? (1)

pixelpusher220 (529617) | about 4 months ago | (#46688195)

Context matters. I never said he didn't do anything for space exploration. In response to a statement saying NASA only wants 'manned' missions, I showed an example where even a small unmanned program was heavily defended by NASA.

Re:What's been the hold up???? (1)

cusco (717999) | about 4 months ago | (#46693033)

They also ordered the "disposal" of Mariner data, which NASA handed over to the Planetary Society rather than destroy. This annoyed the White House so much that they specifically ordered that the remaining unanalyzed Pioneer data be destroyed according to gov't data destruction policies. NASA management blatantly ignored the order and the Planetary Society pulled together funding almost overnight to be able to accept the tapes. Then the Society found one of the only remaining tape drives still able to read the data (in a computer museum, literally), and made the data available to the world. This is why there is a solution today to the Pioneer Anomaly.

Re:What's been the hold up???? (1)

Squidlips (1206004) | about 4 months ago | (#46698153)

The solution to the Pioneer anomaly is soooo much more boring than the alternative, speculative theories. I will never forgive the Planetary Society for ruining my dreams of MoND theory.

Re:What's been the hold up???? (1)

rochrist (844809) | about 4 months ago | (#46685847)

When they finish, will they issue the....Europa Report?

What could possibly go wrong? (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46685393)

Hmmm, what's the black rectangle....

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46685443)

No kidding. Big fucking mistake. The one place we're told not to go, these morons immediately start planning a mission. Maybe we can skate by on a technicality since it's not manned.

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (0)

ihtoit (3393327) | about 4 months ago | (#46686237)

I was going to go there with the Clarke reference, you saved me the trouble...

Just a reminder (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46685419)

They still don't have the money for this, just a congressional mandate.

and I'm going to be a racecar driver! (1)

Thud457 (234763) | about 4 months ago | (#46685803)

They still don't have the money for this, just a congressional mandate.

Typical.

2nd best "flagship mssion" for 2010s (1)

peter303 (12292) | about 4 months ago | (#46685477)

NASAs most expensive mission over $3B. The highest ranked was a Mars sample return, which would likely involve three rockets. No flagship missions are funded for 2010s.

JWST? (3, Informative)

oneiros27 (46144) | about 4 months ago | (#46685607)

Huh? The most expensive was $3B?

The James Webb Space Telescope is estimated to be just under $8B to make and launch, then another ~$800M for operations.

An article from 2011 [discovery.com] suggested that they had already spent $5B (or maybe it was just that they had only planned on it costing $5B at that point). An FAQ from JPL [nasa.gov] states that as of 2011, they had spent $3.5B.

If they're smart on this Europa mission, they won't design the mission around low TRL [nasa.gov] technology.

Re:JWST? (2)

mrsquid0 (1335303) | about 4 months ago | (#46685911)

The original cost for JWST was capped at $700 million in the late 1990s. The cost is currently about 20 times that. There are people on the project who are confident that the final cost will be much higher.

Re:JWST? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46688521)

And NASA people wonder why people are unwilling to give them more money? Everyone in govt has their hands out, and we borrow from 25% to 33% of the federal budget to feed all those parasites. One should expect a popular backlash. "Underfunding" NASA is only the beginning.

Re:2nd best "flagship mssion" for 2010s (1)

Squidlips (1206004) | about 4 months ago | (#46695739)

Not even close. The International Space Station flying pork machine cost 150 billion, a large part of which was supplied by the USA.

Looking for life (1)

geogob (569250) | about 4 months ago | (#46685501)

I have the feeling at every new news report from or about NASA, that its all about "finding life somewhere else". Of course, there is much more to it and this is only the perception.

Still, this seems to be the main message/theme/goal. How about bringing life somewhere else?
How about engineering goals and challenges? Why not "because we want to see if we can"?
  I known these are harder to "sell", but thats also the outreach job of NASA. If they cannot sell the importance of developing new technologies, them who can?

Im not implying not development is being made. Its just not set as a goal. And I can only wish for more and more diversifiied goals them.

Re:Looking for life (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46685549)

This may have something to do with Exobiology being one of the most well-funded new categories for science in the revised NASA budget.

Re:Looking for life (1)

geogob (569250) | about 4 months ago | (#46685639)

Going back to my original thought and question... Why is exobiology one of the most well-funded "division" of the administration? What does it bring us, as a society (or to the scientific community), if not in parallel to equally or more important goals? Why put this goal before most others?

It almost feels like Christopher Columbus going to the King, asking for ship and crew to see if grass may grow somewhere else,

Re:Looking for life (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46685923)

It almost feels like Christopher Columbus going to the King, asking for ship and crew to see if grass may grow somewhere else,

In a sense, he did. Not exactly grass, but spices. Not looking for 'the exact same stuff in your lawn' but instead looking for 'different and exotic plants that may have potential to benefit trade and dining across the kingdom.'

I don't think NASA has a realistic expectation to have a round-trip drone come back from Europa with a breeding stock of the best sashimi ever!, but even finding a few samples from a non-terrestrial life form would give biologists something to examine and argue about for many years to come.

Re:Looking for life (3, Insightful)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 4 months ago | (#46686287)

To actually find evidence of extraterrestrial life, even if it's simply microbes, would represent a pretty major revolution in our understanding of life in general, and a pretty good pointer that life is common in the Universe.

Re:Looking for life (3, Interesting)

cbhacking (979169) | about 4 months ago | (#46686659)

It need not be a revolution of our understanding; it might "simply" lend an incredible degree of support to a bunch of our current theories. We've got lots of theories about life that once existed on Earth but no longer does, and lots of theories about how life arose on Earth, and something like this could mean a ton for our ability to understand such things.

Would extraterrestrial life have its proteins folded the same way? Would it even use the same proteins? Would it have adapted a double-helix structure like DNA, or still be single-strand like RNA, or something else? What chemistry would it use (aerobic is not impossible, but seems unlikely - then again, I'm not a biologist)? There are many more questions that could be asked, and answered, by those who know more of this subject than I do... if we can, in fact, find such life.

On the other hand, if we can't, then that has some interesting implications as well. Are the "building blocks" of life present? If so, maybe life is extremely unlikely to ever spontaneously occur. Is that ocean completely sterile? If so, why is Earth different? What are the differences which could account for that difference, and how likely are they?

Re:Looking for life (1)

meta-monkey (321000) | about 4 months ago | (#46687223)

The discovery of life on another world would answer critical questions about the origin and nature of life on Earth, and raise many more.

Here on Earth, there appears to have been only one genesis. Every living thing on Earth is related if you go far enough back. We've never encountered any life that is not based on AGCT DNA.

If we found life elsewhere in the universe and could examine it, we would find one of two astounding things. Either

A) That life would be made up of something other than the DNA building blocks of life on earth. We would have discovered an entirely new system of life. That's incredible.

or

B) We would find DNA-based life, with the same base pairs as life on Earth. Thanks to our extensive catalog of the genomes of Earth, we'd be able to tell about how far back you have to go for Earth life to have a common ancestor with Mars or Europa life. If the answer is "all the way back to the beginning," that's a pretty good indicator that life on both worlds originated elsewhere, perhaps outside our solar system. Even if it isn't, and Mars or Europa life appears seeded a billion years after life originated on Earth, it still proves life "finds a way" to spread even through the vacuum of space. That's incredible.

Basically, there's nothing about finding life beyond Earth that wouldn't be incredible in one way or another.

I saw this documentary! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46685503)

Things didn't go well!

**Spoiler alert for those who haven't seen Europa Report!**

I thought the idea of a radiation producing organism a pretty interesting concept. Also, 4-D Space Whales from Futurama.

Nuke it (0)

selectspec (74651) | about 4 months ago | (#46685533)

We should just nuke it, along with the moon [youtube.com] .

Didn't you guys get the message?? (2, Funny)

tekrat (242117) | about 4 months ago | (#46685579)

All these worlds are yours
EXCEPT EUROPA.
Use them together.
Use them in peace.

Re:Didn't you guys get the message?? (1)

Thud457 (234763) | about 4 months ago | (#46685877)

I'd steer clear of Titan [wikipedia.org] too, if I were you.

Re:Didn't you guys get the message?? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46685883)

All these worlds are yours
EXCEPT EUROPA.
Use them together.
Use them in peace.

My kingdom for a mod point!

Re:Didn't you guys get the message?? (3, Informative)

sconeu (64226) | about 4 months ago | (#46687759)

Damn stupid movie. The *correct* phrasing, per the novel is:

ALL THESE WORLDS ARE YOURS EXCEPT EUROPA. ATTEMPT NO LANDINGS THERE.

None of the politically correct bullshit that they put into the movie.

Re:Didn't you guys get the message?? (1)

gmhowell (26755) | about 4 months ago | (#46689463)

I bet you're a real hit at parties.

Re:Didn't you guys get the message?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46700187)

Bet you're not troll. How original of you too (ya, right). You can't think for yourself.

Re:Didn't you guys get the message?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46699795)

Well, at least they went to the right planet in that book.

Re:Didn't you guys get the message?? (1)

AvariceJames (2253330) | about 4 months ago | (#46695383)

Wait Wait Wait, don't we have to go to the moon first? Got to find the monolith there first... sheesh.

That's no moon (0)

jfdavis668 (1414919) | about 4 months ago | (#46685677)

it's a space station

Re:That's no moon (1)

Minwee (522556) | about 4 months ago | (#46690217)

You've got the wrong moon [nasa.gov] .

Not laying any foundation (1)

Squidlips (1206004) | about 4 months ago | (#46685687)

NASA is stalling. They don't want to fund this mission; the 15 million in the 2015 budget is just to keep the critics happy; they will never fork over the 2b needed for the mission. They would rather keep the billions in Pork going toward politically powerful interests out of Houston for manned missions.

it will need some skinny people.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46685717)

..to ride this one out, there and back. Perhaps some hobbits..?

Just go already (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46685745)

Begins laying the foundations? So we can expect a mission around 2055 then?

Re:Just go already (1)

Squidlips (1206004) | about 4 months ago | (#46686645)

Yup, NASA has been planing this for a decade at least. The latest design, the Europa Clipper seems like the most sensible, but NASA does not want to fork over the $2b it would cost for the mission so they fiddle and fuss and pretend that they are serious. If the Clipper was fully funded today, it would get to Europa in 2027.

Permanent Habitat? (5, Interesting)

brunes69 (86786) | about 4 months ago | (#46685899)

It seems a lot more feasible to me to build a permanent off-world habitat on Europa beneath the water, than to build one on Mars. The ice and water would shield you from the radiation normally absorbed by Earth's atmosphere and ionosphere. You can extract oxygen easily from water using known processes. And there is no need to MAKE water since it is everywhere. Furthermore, we are already well-versed in making underwater habitats and the habitat would be easily testable here, so there are fewer unknowns.

You would not even need to sink the habitat very deep to protect from the radiation, it could achieve neutral boyancy somewhere in the middle of the water column, and then rotate itself in the water to achieve 1G via centripetal forces.

Re:Permanent Habitat? (2)

thunrida (950858) | about 4 months ago | (#46686369)

All fine, but where do you get your energy from? Might be a bit far for solar...

Re:Permanent Habitat? (2)

brunes69 (86786) | about 4 months ago | (#46686465)

Nuclear. If it can power a sub for years, it can power a station on Europa.

Re:Permanent Habitat? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46686713)

It would be easier to build underwater colonies on Earth than it would be to create underwater colonies on Europa.

Re:Permanent Habitat? (1)

Akido37 (1473009) | about 4 months ago | (#46686787)

Europa is too far. The Moon or Mars would be better in the short term, especially for trial and error. If something goes wrong, we're far closer and more able to do something and learn from it. A disaster on Europa would have no possibility of rescue from Earth. Long term, of course, Europa makes a lot of sense.

Re:Permanent Habitat? (1)

KeensMustard (655606) | about 4 months ago | (#46687711)

Europa is too far. The Moon or Mars would be better in the short term, especially for trial and error. If something goes wrong, we're far closer and more able to do something and learn from it. A disaster on Europa would have no possibility of rescue from Earth

If something goes wrong on Mars, you're dead. There's no rescue. You're dead anyway within about 24 months from the lower gravity and radiation (or suicide, if sickness doesn't get you first). The same, but to a lesser extent, would apply to the moon.

Re:Permanent Habitat? (1)

Ihlosi (895663) | about 4 months ago | (#46688177)

If something goes wrong on Mars, you're dead. There's no rescue.

Sudden evacuation might be problematic. But with less serious problems, the lower transit time to Mars vs. Europa might be advantageous. You're dead anyway within about 24 months from the lower gravity and radiation (or suicide, if sickness doesn't get you first).

There's no experience with humans living in low gravity conditions for more than a few days. We have plenty of zero-g experience, but none that would tell us what a few months of 1/3 g would do to the human body.

Radiation is a problem, though. Shielded habitats would be a high priority. Either underground, or possibly by using water (produced on-site) as shielding.

Re:Permanent Habitat? (2)

KeensMustard (655606) | about 4 months ago | (#46689037)

Sudden evacuation might be problematic. But with less serious problems, the lower transit time to Mars vs. Europa might be advantageous.

Evacuate to where? Depending on time, Earth is months to years away in terms of transit time from Mars, even then there is the huge, obvious problem of how to get down from orbit, if you achieve orbit once you arrive. And this is assuming that there is a craft there on Mars, fuelled and maintained.

But with less serious problems, the lower transit time to Mars vs. Europa might be advantageous.

At those scales, it doesn't seem to make much difference.

Radiation is a problem, though. Shielded habitats would be a high priority. Either underground, or possibly by using water (produced on-site) as shielding.

Unless you land near the poles, there are only trace quantities of water left on Mars in the soil (most of it having sublimated off in the low atmosphere. To extract those quantities of water from the ground (that is, 20000 litres per habitat) would require a facility the size of a longwall open cut mine.

To dig an underground habitat you would need a machine, or you could chance it with a shovel, but then if there was subsidence there is no concrete and no iron to or handy blocks of wood to stay your habitat, you would need to take an inner shell with you and somehow dig a hole and construct the shelter from parts, and make it air tight, sufficient such that no atmosphere at all escaped, or I suppose you could shotcrete the inside by bringing the shotcrete with you - including of course the water or water equivalent, and you would need to be pretty good at shotcreting to guarantee air tightness. Sounds chancey.

And you would still need some sort of facility to grow plants or algae to eat. On earth the average is what? An acre to feed a human? Let's say technology allows us to halve that, and then multiply for the difficult conditions on Mars (plant physiology is unlikely to adapt any better than our own suffering physiology, maybe 2 acres, optimistically, per cosmonaut (let's say 6), that's 12 acres. I doubt you could manually dig and shotcrete a facility covering 12 acres underground.

All in all I would say, not well thought out.

Re:Permanent Habitat? (1)

Josh Komusin (2839519) | about 4 months ago | (#46687273)

What's the water pressure like in the middle of a 100km water column on Europa?

Re:Permanent Habitat? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46692651)

That's a good question. Europa's gravity is 20% less than the moon's, but 100 km + surface ice is a lot of mass.

Re:Permanent Habitat? (1)

JerryLove (1158461) | about 4 months ago | (#46687351)

Distance.
- Fuel
- Time in microgravity
Radiation exposure enroute (in fairness, a problem for Mars)
No aerobreaking to land (though perhaps mitigated by lower gravity)
No idea how to get through ice, or what would happen when you did.
Contamination.
Pressure.
Stopping radiation = no radio.
Etc.

When we can have permenant habitats in the deep desert: then we can talk about feasability offworld. The moon is really a no-brainer starting point because of the(relative) ease of short-duration missions and resupply.

Re:Permanent Habitat? (1)

sconeu (64226) | about 4 months ago | (#46687721)

You forgot that we were to attempt no landings there.

Re:Permanent Habitat? (1)

DarthVain (724186) | about 4 months ago | (#46687447)

The gravitational forces and stresses causing immense seismic events caused by orbiting a super giant like Jupiter might be a problem.

Also the space ice pirates that ply the ocean depths are said to be very territorial and none too hygienic.

Re:Permanent Habitat? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46687597)

And little things like, oh say, FOOD!

Creating a human habitat on a hostile planet is not feasible with current technology and even if it was, it would be HUGELY expensive as one would have to transport enough biomass (dirt, plants, animals, etc) to create a self-sustaining ecosystem that could support the human population. And there would have to be sufficient energy of the correct sort (sunlight for example) to keep the ecosystem running.

Then lets deal with the much simpler physical issues. Trying to build a station UNDERWATER is hugely difficult to begin with (trying to prevent leaks, for example, in something that has no land-based support facilities is next to impossible, just try smelting iron in an underwater, self-contained system [ignoring the annoying little factoid of where one gets the iron ore from to begin with]). Then add that in this case the base would be under miles of ice means the pressure is well beyond what anything we can build would withstand. Not to mention that access to the surface, through miles of ice which is in constant motion from what we can tell...

We have not even figured out how to build a fully self-sustaining underwater base on Earth (where one could, in principle use the surrounding ocean for food, waste removal [note - removal, *not* recycling, which would be required for an off-planet base). All of our ocean-based 'habitats' rely on the surrounding ecosystem and a nearby, land-based support operation.

Building a self-sustaining human habitat on a hostile planet? Forgetting the simple mater of the expense to transport a sufficient quantity of material to create the ecosystem, we are no where near being able to solve the technical problems required for such an undertaking.

Re:Permanent Habitat? (1)

KeensMustard (655606) | about 4 months ago | (#46687649)

What is this obsession with sending canned meat to other planets and satellites?

Conditions under the ice on Europa would be harsher than the harshest prison on earth. It's dark, you would never see a natural light. There is nothing to see but the inside of the craft and possibly the underneath of the ice sheet through a monitor. It would be cramped (The pressure under 20km of ice would be something like 92 earth atmospheres, making the building of such a craft/habitat a challenge). Contact with Earth would be tenuous to impossible, you would probably have to physically cable through the ice, which is 20km of cable. The surface is somewhat more appealing, if you have a need for water you could melt the ice, and you would need some frankly spectacular radiation shielding, but that is a small price to pay for the containment and light issue. Plus, a view.

It does compare favorably to Mars - but that isn't saying much, there's nothing on Mars. Neither compare favorably to simply living in space inside a vehicle, you have to be self sufficient with food, air and water in any case. Plus, most importantly, you get to come home.

Re:Permanent Habitat? (1)

danbert8 (1024253) | about 4 months ago | (#46696467)

Spectacular radiation shield? You mean a lot of water? If we are melting water at the surface, it might be feasible to melt water, pump it over the habitat, and allow it to form an ice radiation shield over the habitat. Think like a big radiation blocking igloo... All it takes it a lot of energy, but if we get fusion figured out, you'll have all the fuel you need on Europa!

Re:Permanent Habitat? (1)

KeensMustard (655606) | about 4 months ago | (#46708883)

Yes - lot's of things suddenly become trivial if you assume magic.

Re:Permanent Habitat? (1)

danbert8 (1024253) | about 4 months ago | (#46714527)

I'm just saying you wouldn't need to burrow the habitat under the ice to get the radiation shielding from ice... Just like Inuits don't need to dig a hole in the snow to get the insulation from it.

Well yes, you've thought of everything... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46689203)

... unless you haven't.

Getting to Jupiter is a much longer flight than Mars. That makes supply lines more difficult.

You are talking about living underground. And even if you can survive on the surface the sunlight is much weaker than on Earth. My family lived for a few years on the west coast of North America. The environment is marine coastal. Think wet and cloudy, especially during the winter. The lack of sufficient sunshine caused depression in my family who is used to prairie weather (bright and sunny most days). Now multiply the dark and gloom times 10, and pile on some cabin fever because you generally cannot leave, not easily.

Oh sure, you CAN do a bunch of things, artificial lighting, maybe take sub rides in that dark ocean. However with so many needs pressing and huge costs, how much money do you think is going to be invested in comfort items? Or what if the habitat simply cannot be sustained unless the comfort items are addressed? I can imagine the habitat getting hugely expensive, with little prospect of commercial activity to support that cost.

Re:Permanent Habitat? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46692017)

"rotate itself in the water to achieve 1G via centripetal forces."

Awhatwhat?

Requisite Reference (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46686177)

Fools! We should heed the warning we received in 2010!

"all these worlds
are yours except
europa
attempt no
landing there
use them together
use them in peace"

It is all about priorities at NASA (3, Interesting)

Squidlips (1206004) | about 4 months ago | (#46686323)

Some expenses: --Space Station: the estimates start at roughly $35 billion — which is what the Government Accountability Office says Congress has appropriated for the station project since 1985 (PDF file) — and rise to $100 billion, which is roughly what the GAO said would be the total cost "to develop, assemble and operate" the station (http://www.nbcnews.com/id/14505278/ns/technology_and_science-space/) --The Space Shuttle Endeavour, the orbiter built to replace the Space Shuttle Challenger, cost approximately $1.7 billion. --Launching the Space Shuttle is about $450 million per mission --The MSL Mars rover ~$1.8 to build and another ~.5b or so to launch and run. --The two MER Mars rovers: $800 million --Second toilet for the Space Station (purchased from the Russians): $17 million. --Amount of money allocated to the Europa Missions in 2015: $15 million.

Re:It is all about priorities at NASA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46690285)

Priorities? How about saving NASA at this point? Space X CRX-3 to ISS delayed some 8 times (program failure); Commercial Crew program to launch from the US to the ISS, and not use Russian Soyuz; Congress was told operational in 2015. Now 2017 maybe?? Historic launch pads that took Americans to the Moon. One a hole in the ground one to be given to Space X for whatever; No backup plan to deal with the Russian problem. Our most important partner on the ISS; Trashed the Space Shuttle, parts and all the tooling. No going back; Just some of the examples of where we are and why we should throw the bums out. The NASA management must go to save NASA, spread the word! National White House petition filed for the removal of NASA Administrator Bolden " http://tinyurl.com/nx7vdjv [tinyurl.com] "

You lost me at "unmanned". (1)

tlambert (566799) | about 4 months ago | (#46691413)

You lost me at "unmanned". Enough said.

Similarly planned JIMO was canned in 2005 (1)

stiggle (649614) | about 4 months ago | (#46691969)

This was originally canned by Bush in 2005 due pushing all the budget into manned missions with Constellation, which was then canned by Obama pushing stuff back to robotic science missions.

JIMO was to be a development testbed of a lot of interesting technologies - hence the crazy price tag, but you needed something with a long lasting power supply (nuclear fission reactor) to enable it to stay out that far without relying on solar panels, plus it would investigate the other icy moons on flybys while it navigated to Europa. Also the vehicle would be assembled in orbit

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

money (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46692565)

if the nasa get life, the nasa get money, right?

Check for New 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...