NASA’s new mission to Europe will ignore the warning by Arthur C. Clarke




NASA ignores Arthur C. Clarke’s warning not to explore the moon of Jupiter – Europe. In “Odyssey Two: 2010”, the science fiction novel by Arthur C. Clarke in 1982, earthly mission sent to study ice in Europe, nine years after the failure of the mission, Discovery One. Since Jupiter is going to become a new star – Lucifer – David Bowman returns to Discovery, to give HAL last order. HAL begins to repeatedly send the message “ALL THESE WORLDS YOUR EXCEPT EUROPE DO NOT ATTEMPT TO THERE landed.”

The American space agency announced funding previously unusual mission to Europe, which will encompass a search for water, and extraterrestrial life.

European mission aims to create a gravitational map of the ice surface of the moon, as many scientists believe that it hides under an ocean . This card will allow “mother ship” mission – Cubesat the size of a Rubik’s cube a few together – disperse hundreds of tiny chip satellites in those parts of Europe where liquid water comes out.

The idea of ​​”two missions in one” – the use of cheap chip satellites, which in themselves are spaceships-on-a-chip will allow the mission to respond quickly to new developments taking place on the surface of Europe, in contrast to the more expensive missions sent to the Moon and Mars in the past, most of which were presented one big lander or rover robot.

Based on new data from Europe, the astronomers suggest that the chloride salts bubble in the world’s oceans icy moon and reach the frozen surface, where they bombard sulfur volcanoes, another large satellite of Jupiter – Io. New findings should answer the questions that have been discussed since the time of the mission, “Voyager” and “Galileo.”


“Let’s say we’re going to Europe, measure the gravity of the moon with the help of quantum inertial sensors and find new places where liquid water comes to the surface, – says Brett Streetman, principal investigator of the Draper Laboratory in Cambridge. – Instead of waiting for a new mission and funding, when we will be able to pull the robotic device the next time, we can already see what’s happening on Jupiter and send crumbs satellites. ”

NASA program on innovative advanced concepts recently awarded $ 100 000 laboratory so that it can develop a plan of study in Europe in the course of this mission, and at the same time and the other planets along the way.

Each satellite-on-a-chip can carry only a few sensors capable of detecting the presence of certain chemical elements, but the lack of moving parts means that the satellite-on-chip is a very good chance of survival after landing on Europe.

Streetman and John West, a program manager at Draper Laboratory, borrowed and improved idea of ​​satellites on-chip Mason Peck, a professor of mechanical and aerospace sciences at Cornell University, and former chief technologist NASA. Draper Laboratory is also developing a new gravity sensor, which can create a density map of Europe, which will reveal the internal structure of the Moon and to distinguish the liquid and frozen water on the basis of its density. Not so long ago, NASA has used a similar sensor in the mission GRAIL, which was to study the effects of gravity on the moon only with the two devices.

But instead of two devices Draper Laboratory has developed a technology of cold atomic probe that can operate as a gravity sensor. Cold atomic sensing uses a combination of magnets and laser beams to trap atoms and then measure the effect of gravity on the basis of the position of the atom.

“We have a desktop model that works in the lab, but as far as I know, no one had the technology in any of the known experiments” – says West.

This technology will be able to fit on a spacecraft made of several satellites Cubesat – small satellites in the form of a cube, only 4 inches on each side. Team laboratory suggests that the mother ship mission to Europe will be built on the basis of three-six-pack Cubesat.


Most of these satellites start as a low-cost missions aboard rockets destined for more important tasks. But the proposed mission to Europe, most likely, will use its own dedicated rocket to get it on the proper path to reach the moons of Jupiter. Nevertheless, Draper Laboratory hopes that the use of low-cost satellites Cubesat be able to significantly reduce the cost of space flight.

If Draper Laboratory to cope with the pre-planning a future mission, it will receive the second tranche of funding from NASA in the amount of $ 400 000. Laboratory will not produce specific hardware during the first stage, but will present examples and prototypes of devices.

Streetman and West chose Europe as a destination, because the ice moon has long interested scientists. Of particular interest is the possible presence of liquid water, hiding under the frozen surface. The researchers hope that their tiny mission accelerate the exploration of the Moon in the next decade or two.

“Every time we look back, we find the interesting stuff, which does not expect to find – says Streetman. – And always more questions than answers. ”

This proposal – not only the idea of ​​using small robots for research in Europe. Another concept is received from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California and the University of Uppsala in Sweden, is to use a small robotic submarine the size of two banks, which will search for extraterrestrial life in the oceans of Europe.

For centuries Europe has constantly left the puzzle. This culminated, perhaps, a unique explosion in December 2012, when the cloud of steam rose to 30 kilometers above the south pole of the moon. This eruption was tiny on a cosmic scale, but caused quite a stir among astrobiologists.

Beyond Earth Europe may be the most hospitable home for life in the solar system. Four billion years of tidal heating and liquid ocean could produce something that we can define as life . Artificial satellite in the Jupiter system can potentially capture the traces of life in the water vapor rising from the surface of Europe. However, despite the interest of the scientific community, a separate mission to Jupiter, for such a purpose was not run for a long time.

Although Europe has been open for more than 400 years ago, we could not see her near as deep space satellites not provided us with a good show of one of the brightest objects in the solar system. In the period from 1973 to 1993, eight satellites flew past in Europe. Each of them has dispelled some of the uncertainties associated with this mysterious body rotating at 628.3 million kilometers from us.

The first came in 1973. Satellite “Pioneer 10” sent back to the first photo of the bright moon. Europe reflects into space about 64 percent of the light that falls on its surface. Unlike Europe, the light reflectivity of the Earth, or albedo, is 33 percent. Venus – 76 percent.


That creates a brightness? Since the Sun is 2,000 times farther away from Europe than from us, Europe is not covered with liquid water as the Earth. Speaking of clouds, Europe slightly less than the Moon. It lacks the force of gravity to hold significant atmosphere. The planet is covered with a solid crust of ice, as shown by the observation of the “Pioneer”, but do not throw out one important fact: the tidal force of Jupiter. Europe’s proximity to Jupiter means that it may very well be heated from the inside, melting of the ice, at least near the center.

Shortly before the arrival of the next satellite in Jupiter was put forward another hypothesis: in Europe may have three layers. In this model, the inner core is composed of silica. External – from ice. Pressure Jupiter every 3.5 days can generate enough tidal forces to support the existence of a liquid ocean under the ice crust.

Because of the “pioneers”, “Voyager” and “Galileo” we learned more in thirty years than in the previous five centuries. Brightness of ice is the result of constant renewal of the surface. Huge cracks appear on as Jupiter Link Europe. In addition, under the icy surface may exist a large ocean of salt water. Although Europe is half a billion miles away, on a galactic scale, it is in our backyard, and therefore us in whatever means necessary to investigate it.

In 1977, at the depth of the Earth’s oceans have been discovered hydrothermal vents. This was the first evidence that life can develop in the absence of light, using heat as a source of chemical energy. And if so, then Europe – one of the best candidates for the maintenance of life.

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