Wednesday, March 5, 2014


NASA is seeking to send a robotic mission to Jupiter’s moon, Europa in 2025. Europa is the moon that has deadly radiation above a 11 -42 feet think icy crust and then below that water. It also has mantle with heat vents that might initiate life in the water as no radiation gets below the ice and the heat vents make a compelling location to habitate.

*In a side comment we used to just ‘guess’ or ‘suppose’ there was water below the ice. BUT apparently Europa spews out into space while following it’s strange orbit (elliptical and goes from real close to Jupiter to real far away as well as slipping through its magnetosphere). The gravitation differences pull this way & that forcing the planet to appear oblong and then further into its orbit bounce back into a ball. Meanwhile the push and pull results in striations on the surface ice and water being sent into outer space. It separates into H & O and then Hubble has detected it. (See picture attached – I use it as my PC’s Wallpaper!)

While scientists are extremely happy about the possibility, they know that until they hear the words from the administration who then hears it from the….. Still 15 million has been earmarked in its 2015 budget to begin planning a mission.

As the mission is a robotic one it faces many pluses and a few hurdles. Certainly how advanced our robotics are getting is a major plus. With a robotic mission that far from Earth it would be best that certain procedures be stored and communication be limited to run program A or using System B…with such a large distance to cross for instructions, plus the added needs once below the ice (drop a cable then WiFi it was the plan).

Remember the spacecraft mentioned here in the description of the planned one way trip? There is very little reason a robotic mission would have to be all that different. And actually, now that robots are almost cliché, it could be a robot with in a robot so once it had broken through the ice could split off and investigate so much more if it had become two.

To be honest this robotic exploration of new worlds is awesome.

Just a hope, could we send one out to Alpha Centauri or Proxima Centauri? Or the planets. To know if they are in the habitable zone is a major curiosity as they are close to it once we expanded one. The planet that belongs to Proxima Centauri is land locked but may have enough spin to be able to fight off any CMEs or Flares from its star – besides, I’m curious! 

 And as a bonus I give to you;


At NASA’s web site you can take a look at: a feasibility study/suggested methodology for a trip to Venus by an inflatable airship called VAMP. 

To understand the difficulties such a plan must consider, a brief description of the environment the craft would have to face. Terrestrial planets are 4 out of 8 in this solar system, however the term Goldilocks becomes important as not only as a mere earthling might we seek a rocky planet, but we might also seek desire a temperature that is not too hot. Venus is too hot. With a surface temperature of 863 Fahrenheit revolving around the Sun every 224.7 days she is closer and less desirable. Often thought of as Earth’s twin due to mass & diameter, when it gets to conditions on the surface, the difference is quite vast. It has a dense carbon dioxide atmosphere (96.5% - the rest is nitrogen), the atmospheric pressure is 92 times that of Earths, and  is shrouded in an opaque layer of highly reflective clouds that prevent its surface from seeing the light of day. Not that it matters, the surface is a dry oven desertscape with rocks interspersed with volcanism. Gravity is almost 9 times that of Earths. So forget what an astronaut would do there if he or she lived past the first few minutes. The  Apollo/Skylab A7L spacesuit offered protection from -249 F to 250 F. Certainly that would be adjusted to deal with wherever the astronaut was, but 863 degrees F is a tad higher!

So while Venus is beautiful to look at in the evening or morning sky, she lacks a certain je ne sais quoi.

At the very least, the requirements for a suit to actually survive on Venus would be; able to handle immense pressure, temperature-ditto, oh and corrosive gasses & acids…Hmmm. Platinum?  It is one of the more resilient and dense metals.

Back to the inflatable spaceship; with all that Venus will throw at an alien visitor, the possible winner, a drone of sorts. First a conventional spaceship carries VAMP to Venus, but then VAMP is deployed though still attached to the mother ship so it can be filled with a gas (such as Hydrogen). When it has been completely filed the mother-ship would release it and it would fly in the atmosphere. Its engines would get energy though the solar panels and the heat that escapes from the onboard plutonium 238.  At night, the high winds of Venus would allow VAMP to act as a glider and continue around the planet. The estimate is it could circle the planet every six days. The whole mission would rely on technology we already have so would not present any major problems.

The question remains though; why travel to Venus? Venus, our twin, may suggest what Earth’s atmosphere is to become if climate change or global warming, if you prefer, isn’t placed in check. Then there are the usual arguments about where we came from; explaining how the universe was formed. Honestly, I just think it would be cool! Plus we honestly don’t know what we will find beneath its clouds. You never know, could be something that sparks inventions and changes manufacturing as we know it!

Anyway, if it’s successful then maybe we take on Saturn and all the rest. While this is speculation at best, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune are all thought to have diamond rain. Space program could fund itself after visiting there – but they’d have to design the rover to return and also to fit extra cargo for the return trip!


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