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Author Topic: Bold new joint US-EU missions to reach Jupiter and Saturn  (Read 1515 times)

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Offline The OverlordTopic starter

Bold new joint US-EU missions to reach Jupiter and Saturn
« on: February 18, 2009, 11:17:23 PM »


Really damned awesome, except we're going to have to wait a while to see the results.


http://news.yahoo.com/s/space/boldnewmissionstojupiterandsaturnplanned


Quote
NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) are pushing ahead with proposals to send ambitious new missions to explore Jupiter, Saturn and the many moons that circle both planets, the two space agencies announced Wednesday.


The proposed missions call for sending multiple spacecraft to the Jupiter and Saturn systems to explore the gas giant planets and their unique satellites, such as Jupiter's ice-covered Europa and Saturn's shrouded moon Titan.


"It's just a remarkable effort that I see," said Jim Green, director of NASA's planetary science division, in a teleconference with reporters. "The communities have really come together on both sides of the pond."


NASA and ESA officials announced plans for the flagship mission proposals and a rough schedule for the first to fly - the Jupiter-bound expedition - on Wednesday after a meeting between the two space agencies in Washington, D.C., last week. NASA envisions launching its Jupiter and Saturn probes atop expendable Atlas 5 rockets, U.S. space agency officials said.


"The decision means a win, win situation for all parties involved," said Ed Weiler, NASA's associate administrator for science missions at the agency's headquarters in Washington, D.C. "Although the Jupiter system mission has been chosen to proceed to an earlier flight opportunity, a Saturn system mission clearly remains a high priority for the science community."


Return to Jupiter


Dubbed the Europa Jupiter System Mission, the Jupiter-bound expedition would send two orbiting spacecraft to study the planet and its large moons Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto in unprecedented detail, NASA officials said.


NASA would build one orbiter, the Jupiter Europa, while ESA would provide the other, Jupiter Ganymede. The spacecraft would launch in 2020 from different spaceports with the goal of reaching Jupiter by 2026 and spending three years studying the planet and its moons, NASA officials said.


NASA's share in the mission could cost up to $3 billion, while Europe has set aside about 850 million euro (about $1 billion) for its next flagship mission. The European Jupiter probe is also known as Laplace at ESA. While neither mission is currently fully funded, NASA is setting aside about $10 million to continue studying design challenges for its Jupiter Europa orbiter, Green said.


NASA's last dedicated mission to Jupiter was Galileo, which spent eight years studying the planet and its moons before intentionally plunging into the gas giant in 2003 to end its flight. The next probe slated to fly to the planet is NASA's Juno, which is scheduled for an August 2011 launch.


"For the Jupiter Europa mission, the overarching goal is to investigate the emergence of potentially habitable worlds around gas giants," said Curt Niebur, NASA's program scientist for the outer planets. "We'll take a close look at Europa, to better define its habitability."


Jupiter's moon Europa is covered with a thick crust of ice that hides what astronomers believe to be a vast liquid ocean beneath its frozen exterior. In addition to studying Jupiter itself and flying by its other large satellites, NASA's Jupiter Europa spacecraft would be able to orbit Europa and build global maps of the moon's surface, topography and composition. A ground-penetrating radar and gravity-measuring sensors would also probe Europa's interior to obtain definitive proof whether the underground ocean exists.


"We all firmly believe that there's an ocean under the ice of Europa," Niebur said. "This mission is going to verify that using three different lines of inquiry."


Europe's Jovian probe would mirror NASA's in-depth scrutiny of Europa at Ganymede, which is the largest of Jupiter's moons, as well as the largest natural satellite in the solar system. The moon is larger than the planet Mercury. While NASA's spacecraft will end its mission in orbit around Europa, Europe's would do so circling Ganymede, NASA officials said.


Sailing to Saturn


Like the proposed Jupiter mission, the Saturn expedition would consist of both NASA and European spacecraft.


Dubbed the Titan Saturn System mission, the flagship flight would include a NASA-built orbiter to study Saturn and its moons, as well as European lander and research balloon to continue the exploration of the planet's cloud-covered moon Titan. Saturn's moon Enceladus, which harbors ice-spewing geysers, is also major target for that mission. ESA officials have referred to their mission to Saturn and Titan as Tandem.

The daunting technical hurdles involved in assembling the mission will require more study and technology development before the flight can go forward, NASA officials said. Those hurdles, which include trying to keep spacecraft trim enough to fit on their rockets, led NASA and ESA officials to propose flying the Jupiter mission first, they added.

"Titan will not be forgotten," Green said.

Under NASA's current plan, the Titan Saturn System mission would take about 10 1/2 years to reach Saturn if it launched in the 2020 timeframe. NASA's orbiter would spend about two years circling Saturn to study the planet, Enceladus and other moons, and then spend about 1 1/2 years in orbit around Titan, Niebur said.

Niebur said Titan's major draw is its chemistry, which appears to have many parallels to what the early Earth may have been like in the ancient past. Images and data from the Cassini orbiter have found evidence of liquid methane lakes and rain on the cloudy Saturnian moon.

"Titan is felt to be a very Earth-like world in terms of the processes going on," Niebur said.

Meanwhile, the Cassini orbiter managed by NASA, ESA and the Italian Space Agency is currently in orbit around Saturn, where it has been studying the planet and its many moons since it arrived in June 2004. The orbiter's European-built Huygens lander successfully touched down on Titan's surface in January 2005.

Mission managers are pushing to extend Cassini's flight by seven years to 2017. 

"This joint endeavour is a wonderful new exploration challenge and will be a landmark of 21st century planetary science," said David Southwood, ESA's director of science and robotic exploration. "What I am especially sure of is that the cooperation across the Atlantic that we have had so far and we see in the future, between America and Europe, NASA and ESA, and in our respective science communities is absolutely right. Let's get to work."


Offline Lithos

Re: Bold new joint US-EU missions to reach Jupiter and Saturn
« Reply #1 on: February 18, 2009, 11:27:41 PM »
Will be huge communication challenge to get the co operation really work, but that just might put the production times and costs down enough to make space exploration viable again. Will be exciting to see the results once this really gets in to motion.

Offline Oniya

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Re: Bold new joint US-EU missions to reach Jupiter and Saturn
« Reply #2 on: February 19, 2009, 01:01:55 AM »
The 'space race' did a lot to raise the country's morale before.  I think it bodes well.

Offline Martel

Re: Bold new joint US-EU missions to reach Jupiter and Saturn
« Reply #3 on: February 19, 2009, 02:48:13 AM »
This, looks extremely interesting. It's just too bad it will be such a long time before we see any results. The idea of a water planet actually existing, however, is very exciting.

Offline The OverlordTopic starter

Re: Bold new joint US-EU missions to reach Jupiter and Saturn
« Reply #4 on: February 19, 2009, 04:49:17 AM »
Will be huge communication challenge to get the co operation really work,


Actually, NASA and the ESA collaborate quite often. The Cassini probe that's been circling through the Saturn system for the past several years is American built and launched, but the Huygens lander that it carried there and is sitting on Titan; the most distant lander we've ever safely set down, is ESA.


There are other examples, but the International Space Station isnít named international for a joke. Much of the components are American and Russian, with European and Japanese modules. The Canadians have been onboard for years with the robotic arms.
« Last Edit: February 19, 2009, 04:55:31 AM by The Overlord »

Offline DavidLandry

Re: Bold new joint US-EU missions to reach Jupiter and Saturn
« Reply #5 on: February 19, 2009, 11:28:29 AM »
A European lander .. seems NASA doesn't want to loose another one  ;D

I like the cooperation as Europe lacks a adequate launching site. This is possibly the best way to go as Russian relationships tend to be tense at times.

Offline RubySlippers

Re: Bold new joint US-EU missions to reach Jupiter and Saturn
« Reply #6 on: February 19, 2009, 12:18:40 PM »
Great pissing away more of my tax dollars on useless missions into space. And that space station is a joke what benefits were really given for the vast amounts of money spent on that monstrosity?

Offline Oniya

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Re: Bold new joint US-EU missions to reach Jupiter and Saturn
« Reply #7 on: February 19, 2009, 12:24:28 PM »
Space missions are hardly useless.  Beyond the simple exploration, they have enabled us to make vast leaps in technology.  You might be interested in this especially.

Offline Lithos

Re: Bold new joint US-EU missions to reach Jupiter and Saturn
« Reply #8 on: February 19, 2009, 01:04:50 PM »
As one of the classic inventions for space living and travel... The blessing and curse of my life, Microwave Oven :P

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Re: Bold new joint US-EU missions to reach Jupiter and Saturn
« Reply #9 on: February 19, 2009, 01:13:11 PM »
Finally, the beginnings of a united earth exploration into space! It's not a huge leap yet, but I'll certainly take it! :)

And for the record...exploration and discovery is never a waste of money...NEVER.

Offline RubySlippers

Re: Bold new joint US-EU missions to reach Jupiter and Saturn
« Reply #10 on: February 19, 2009, 01:34:57 PM »
When my country is facing a new massive national Debt of over 14 trillion dollars likely before the government is done, we can't afford to waste money on projects like this. Balance our budget and lower the national debt to maybe 1 trillion dollars what we need for inventment mechanisms in our economy we can talk about this.

Want this done let private companies do it if there is money to be made, I suspect they could do the same job cheaper if allowed to do so.

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Re: Bold new joint US-EU missions to reach Jupiter and Saturn
« Reply #11 on: February 19, 2009, 01:38:07 PM »
Not to get onto a tangent here, but sometimes it's more important for things to be made well and last a long time, then it is to be made at the cheapest price.

Granted, the debt is massive, but most of that is due to fighting and spending on wars and such that never should've been fought in the first place. THIS on the other hand is bringing countries TOGETHER...and that is crucial in any time...especially a time like this.

/end hijack.

Offline The OverlordTopic starter

Re: Bold new joint US-EU missions to reach Jupiter and Saturn
« Reply #12 on: February 19, 2009, 03:47:29 PM »
A European lander .. seems NASA doesn't want to loose another one  ;D



Um...have you checked out NASA track record at Mars? Mars is indeed notorious for losing craft, but the American success rate on the red planet is much better than that of the Russians. Given all the missions that the US does send out, not all which make the headlines, we're doing just fine. Cassini/Huygens was a two-star show. ESA's Huygens was the ship of the hour when it landed on Titan and confirmed that Titan largely looks like we suspected, with signs of cryovolcanism. Since then, Cassini has proven lakes of liquid ethane or methane exist down there.

The Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity are well into their fifth year of operation, well past the original 90 days or so planned for their primary missions. American landers are doing just fine, thank you.  ;)


When my country is facing a new massive national Debt of over 14 trillion dollars likely before the government is done, we can't afford to waste money on projects like this. Balance our budget and lower the national debt to maybe 1 trillion dollars what we need for inventment mechanisms in our economy we can talk about this.

Want this done let private companies do it if there is money to be made, I suspect they could do the same job cheaper if allowed to do so.


People that are trying hard to quantify the space program usually don't understand what they're talking about. Much of the conveniences and safeguards we have today in our everyday lives and take for granted are offshoots of space tech. The more we understand other worlds nearby the more we understand the home planet, and given the way we've been abusing Mother Earth we need a little understanding.


By the way NASA creates or maintains jobs right here. The space shuttle was not built in China. Indian tech support does not troubleshoot our fleet of spacecraft and probes; places like mission control in Houston and JPL in California do.


Technically there's a lot of things we don't 'need' in times of trouble. We really don't need to be coughing up the gas money to get to church and then the cash for the collection plate...but I don't suppose you'll be convincing too many people.


I prefer to invest in reality. Churches and temples will tell you invest and they might be able to save our soul...space research just might help us save our planet. As long as we're all still on the mortal coil we best get our priorities straight.

Offline Oniya

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Re: Bold new joint US-EU missions to reach Jupiter and Saturn
« Reply #13 on: February 19, 2009, 04:04:10 PM »
Quoting from the page I linked to in my last post: 

Quote
It has been conservatively estimated by U.S. space experts that for every dollar the U.S. spends on R and D in the space program, it receives $7 back in the form of corporate and personal income taxes from increased jobs and economic growth. Besides the obvious jobs created in the aerospace industry, thousands more are created by many other companies applying NASA technology in nonspace related areas that affect us daily. One cannot even begin to place a dollar value on the lives saved and improved lifestyles of the less fortunate. Space technology benefits everyone and a rising technological tide does raise all boats.

Among other things that 'we on Earth' benefit from that rose from the space program:  microwave ovens, ultrasound, implantable heart aids, MRIs, voice activated wheelchairs, better cancer detection (especially for us ladies), fire resistant materials, lightweight air tanks for firemen, freeze-drying, enriched baby food, lightweight CDs, advanced keyboards and laser angioplasty.