NASA’s Mission to Europa

Let's Talk About NASA's Mission to Europa

The search for life in the Solar System is about the hunt for water. Wherever we find liquid water on Earth, we find life. I’m talking everywhere. In the most briny, salty pools in Antarctica, in the hottest hot springs in Yellowstone, under glaciers, and kilometers deep underground.

So we go searching for liquid water in the Solar System.

You might be surprised to learn that Jupiter’s moon Europa has the most water in the entire Solar System. If you took all the water on Earth, collected it into a big sphere, it would measure almost 1,400 kilometers across.

Europa’s water would measure nearly 1,800 kilometers.All that water exists in a layer around Europa, encased in a layer of ice. How thick? We don’t know.

Is there life down there? We don’t know. You can say there might be, and it wouldn’t be untrue. However, if you say there isn’t, that’s way less interesting for clickbait purposes. Whenever we don’t know the answers to fundamental and intriguing questions like that, it’s time to send a mission.

Good news! An actual mission to Europa is in the works right now. In 2015, NASA approved the development of an orbiter mission to Europa. If all goes well, and nothing gets cancelled, a spacecraft will launch in the 2020s, carrying 9 instruments to Europa. Most will be familiar cameras, mass spectrometers, and the like, to study the surface of Europa to a high level of resolution. Over the course of 45 flybys, the spacecraft will get down as close as 25 kilometers and capture it with incredible resolution.

Perhaps the most exciting, and controversial instrument on board the new Europa Orbiter mission will be its ice-penetrating radar. Mission planners battled over installing a radar this sophisticated, as it will be an enormous drain on the orbiter’s power.

This for us is incredibly exciting. It will allow the spacecraft to map out the depth and thickness of Europa’s icy exterior. Is it thick or thin? Are there pockets of water trapped just below the surface, or is it tough shell that goes on for dozens of kilometers?

The worst case scenario is that the shell goes thicker than the radar can reach, and we won’t even know how far it goes.

Whatever happens, the Europa orbiter will be a boon to science, answer outstanding questions about the moon and the chances of finding life there.

We’re just getting started. What we really want to send is a lander. Because of the intense radiation from Jupiter, the Sun, and space itself, the surface of the ice on Europa would be sterilized. But dig down a few centimeters and you might find life that’s protected from the radiation.

A future Europa lander might be equipped with a heated drill attached to a tether. The lander would be have with a heat-generated radioisotope thermoelectric generator, like most of NASA’s big, outer Solar System spacecraft.

But in addition to using it for electricity, it’ll use the raw heat to help a tethered drill to grind through the ice a few meters and sample what’s down there.

Drilling more than a few meters is probably the stuff of science fiction. Russian scientists in Antarctica drilled for almost two decades to get through 4,000 meters of ice above Lake Vostok. Imagine trying to get through 100 kilometers of the stuff, on a distant world, with a robot.

But, since I’ve talked about moving the Sun, and terraforming the Moon, maybe I shouldn’t put any bounds on my imagination. Nuclear-powered Europa submarines will get us swimming with the singing Europan space whales in no time.

Europa is the best place to search the Solar System for life, and I’m excited to see what the upcoming Europa Orbiter mission turns up. And I’m even more excited about the possibility of any future lander missions.

Fraser Cain – Universe Today

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Nasa’s Europa Mission take another step toward reality

 

NASA’s current plan for exploring Europa has just passed its first major review, proving that it’s feasible, unlike any of the previous ideas the agency’s scientists cooked up. America’s space agency has been developing mission ideas for Jupiter’s moon for years and even considered sending a lander to the satellite as recently as a year ago. Its scientists also once thought of sending a spacecraft to orbit Europa, but they ended up having to scrap that plan: the moon is bathed in Jupiter’s radiation, which would quickly kill any vessel that’s constantly exposed to it. So, instead of a lander or a Europa orbiter, NASA will send out a spacecraft in the 2020s designed to orbit Jupiter itself.

As the agency revealed in May, that spacecraft will be equipped with nine imaging, radar, magnenometry and spectometry tools to study the moon’s ice crust and the subsurface ocean that’s likely underneath it. The vehicle will fly by Europa 45 times during its mission period, and it will use every chance it gets to know more about the natural satellite. It’ll even be equipped to gather liquid/gas samples, in case the moon really does erupt plumes of water into space. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory has been studying the mission formally known as the Clipper concept since 2011, with help from the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL). Now, that concept is ready to enter development phase, and if all goes well, we’ll finally know if there’s life on Jupiter’s moon.

 

 

 

 

Enter The Space Plane

E-Vectors Space Company to build two type of space planes.  A suborbital, the Fire Fly 200  and a manned  unmanned plane that will be capable of traveling through deep space to Jupiter and beyond the Fire Fly  400.  Both space planes will take off vertically before accelerating to speed of 22,000 miles per hour using fusion /neutronic engines.   A spaceplane is an aerospace vehicle that operates as an aircraft in Earth’s atmosphere, as well as a spacecraft when it is in space.  It combines features of an aircraft and a spacecraft, which can be thought of as an aircraft that can endure and maneuver in the vacuum of space or likewise a spacecraft that can fly like an airplane.

As in a previous blog most of the construction would take place in space at the space factory using the 3 D printer with some of the components built  here on Earth.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nasa’s Deep Space Exploration Vehicle

NASA’s Space Launch System, or SLS, is
an advanced launch vehicle for a new era of
exploration beyond Earth’s orbit into deep space.
SLS, the world’s most powerful rocket, will launch
astronauts in the agency’s Orion spacecraft on
missions to an asteroid and eventually to Mars,
while opening new possibilities for other payloads
including robotic scientific missions to places like
Mars, Saturn and Jupiter.
Offering the highest-ever payload mass and volume
capability and energy to speed missions through
space, SLS will be the most powerful rocket in
history and is designed to be flexible and evolvable,
to meet a variety of crew and cargo mission needs

Orion Exploration Flight Test 1

 

Jupiter’s Moon Europa

Jupiter’s moon Europa.

We have decided to send a Manned Mission to explore Jupiter’s moon Europa. It is the six closest moon to Jupiter.   Jupiter is the 5th planet from the Sun and is the largest planet in the Solar System. Jupiter is classified as a gas giant with mass one-thousandth of that of the Sun but is two and a half times the mass of all the other planets in the Solar System combined.

Europa has an outer layer of water around  (62 mi) thick; some as frozen-ice upper crust, some as liquid ocean underneath the ice. The layer is likely a salty liquid water ocean.  Europa contains a metallic iron core. Europa has emerged as one of the top locations in the Solar System in terms of  potentially hosting extraterrestrial  life that could exist in its under-ice ocean.  Life in such an ocean could possibly be similar to  life on Earth in the deep ocean. The likely presence of liquid water on Europa has spurred calls to send a  manned mission to investigate.

An order was place with the E-vectors Space factory  to build the spacecraft that will taking the three  astronaut and three robots to the moon Europa.    The engine that will carry them is  neutronic that can navigate in the deep ocean ,the atmosphere,and in deep space.   All three are categorized as water elements with outer space being the thicker of the three.  The neutronic engine creates fusion energy capable of speeds to reach Jupiter’s moon in 659 days or approximately  1 year and 9 months,when Jupiter and Earth are aligned.

The astronauts will not land on the surface of Europa but instead orbit the moon and communicate with our Deep Space Station. The robots will be used to explore the surface and the under ice ocean.    Information transmitted by the robots will be sent to the orbiting spacecraft to determine ,confirm the habitability ,and the characteristic of the water within and below Europa’s icy shell.

Artist’s concept of the crybot a thermal drill, seen upper left) and its deployed ‘hydrobot’ submersible

 

 

Water vapor plums have been detected on Europa due to the under ice oceans tides and gravitational stress from the planet Jupiter.  The plums are considered simular to volcanoes pewing magma but instead water.  Life on the surface could be possible closest to these plums due to the heat which is created.

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A Robotic Mission to an Ocean-Bearing Moon of Jupiter

Earthlike PlanetsCAPE CANAVERAL, Florida  –  NASA budget plan for 2015 includes funding for a robotic mission to an ocean-bearing moon of Jupiter and could help boost commercial ventures to fly astronauts to the International Space Station, NASA officials said on Tuesday.

The White House is requesting a $17.5 billion budget for the U.S. space agency in the fiscal year that begins October 1.

That marks a 1 percent decrease from NASA’s 2014 budget. But NASA could also have access to an additional $900 million from  the President’s proposed Opportunity, Growth and Security Initiative, a $56 billion fund for special projects that is separate from the regular budget.

If approved, the agency would have $1.1 billion next year to help at least two companies develop commercial space taxis to fly astronauts to and from the space station. The $100 billion research outpost, a project of 15 nations, flies about 260 miles above Earth.

Since the space shuttles were retired in 2011, the United States is dependent on Russia to fly crews to the space station at a cost of more than $65 million a seat.

For now, escalating U.S. tensions with Russia over the crisis in Ukraine have not affected the space partnership, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden told reporters on a conference call.

“We are continuing to monitor the situation,” Bolden said. “Right now, everything is normal in our relationship with the Russians,” he said.

Currently, NASA is supporting space taxi designs by Boeing Co, privately owned Space Exploration Technologies and privately owned Sierra Nevada Corp.

The agency intends to select at least two companies for a final round of development funding this summer. NASA wants to have U.S. options for flying astronauts to the station before the end of 2017.

The so-called Commercial Crew program is receiving $696 million for the 2014 fiscal year ending September 30. The proposed funding increase would add as much as $400 million to the program for fiscal 2015.

The new budget also includes $3.1 billion for NASA to operate the station and provides $2.8 billion to continue development of the Space Launch System heavy-lift rocket and Orion capsule for future human missions to the moon, asteroids and Mars. An unmanned Orion test flight is scheduled for September 18.

One of the first operational Orion missions would send astronauts to an asteroid that has been robotically relocated into a high orbit around the moon. Planning for the so-called Asteroid Redirect Mission gets a boost to $133 million in the 2015 budget proposal, up from $78 million in 2014.

As currently envisioned, hiking spending on the asteroid initiative means cutbacks in other programs, warns the Coalition for Space Exploration, a Houston-based industry advocacy organization.

“We remain concerned and opposed to the annual effort to drain funds from our nation’s exploration programs,” the group said in a statement.

Science missions would share nearly $5 billion in 2015, including $15 million to begin planning for a mid-2020s mission to Europa, an ice-encrusted moon of Jupiter.

Scientists have strong evidence that the moon has a vast ocean beneath its frozen surface. Water is believed to be essential for life.

“It’s one of those places where life might occur, in the past or now, and so we’re really excited about going there,” said NASA’s Chief Financial Officer Beth Robinson.

The proposed budget keeps the Hubble Space Telescope successor program – an infrared observatory known as the James Webb Space Telescope – on track for launch in 2018. It also lets NASA begin planning for a new telescope to probe the mysterious force known as “dark energy” that is driving the universe apart at faster and faster rates.

(Editing by Kevin Gray, Tom Brown , Ken Wills and Robert E)

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