Orbiter-Forum  

Go Back   Orbiter-Forum > Far Side of the Moon > Spaceflight News
Register Blogs Orbinauts List Social Groups FAQ Projects Mark Forums Read

Spaceflight News Share news, stories, or discussions about government and private spaceflight programs; including ESA, ISS, NASA, Russian Space Program, Virgin Galactic, & more!

Reply
 
Thread Tools
  #1  
Old
Unstung's Avatar
Unstung Unstung is offline
Orbinaut
Default Mission to a Hidden Ocean: The Europa Clipper
by Unstung 04-02-2013, 11:55 PM

For the fiscal year 2013, NASA had most of the proposed cuts to planetary science reversed[1][2], enabling it to pursue the Europa Clipper concept (or a similar) mission. Funds totaling $75 million have already been allocated to devise a potential mission.[3] I have been following the new concept closely since its redesign from the canceled flagship mission called the Jupiter Europa Orbiter. The Europa Clipper proposal is a descoped and cheaper alternative at $2 billion, as suggested by the Planetary Decadal Survey, to the $4.7 billion JEO. I, hopefully along with other members, will be able to cover updates on NASA's progress towards a mission to Europa. The mission would be selected in a few years if all goes well. Discovery by discovery, Europa becomes a more tantalizing destination to explore.

On NASA
Dedicated Website
Europa at NASA


My report on the mission a few months ago:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Unstung View Post
 I just reported on the concept for an Europa mission, and now I found a pretty recent article on it.
SPACE.com: "NASA Eyes Mission to Jupiter Moon Europa"
{image}
Quote:
...
But NASA is also thinking about ways to investigate the possible habitability of Europa, Jupiter's fourth-largest moon. One concept that may be gaining traction is a so-called "clipper" probe that would make multiple flybys of the moon, studying its icy shell and suspected subsurface ocean as it zooms past.
[...]
Here is the Clipper concept, again:

And the study, again: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/pss/oct2012/...ske_Europa.pdf
And an interview regarding the mission (again): Europa Clipper on Vimeo
The nominal launch date is in 2020 where the transit to Jupiter will take under six years. However, there are launch opportunities available every year.

Out of any possible near-future robotic missions, this one excites me the most.

Last edited by Unstung; 01-11-2015 at 09:22 AM.
Reply With Quote
Views 34664 Comments 79
Total Comments 79

Comments

Old 04-12-2013, 10:02 AM   #2
Unstung
Orbinaut
 
Unstung's Avatar
Default

I have refrained from posting funding news because the president's budget has yet to be approved by Congress until I found a good article covering the situation.

The Planetary Society: "First Analysis: the NASA Planetary Science Budget for 2014"
The section relevant to this thread—
Quote:
The bad news:

The administration really, really does not want to fund a Europa mission. The Outer Planets budget drops precipitously after FY14 and the end of the currently funded Cassini Solstice mission (but see below on Cassini’s future). The budget documents state that, “The Europa Study Team submitted its final report in response to the recommendation by the decadal survey to immediately examine ways to reduce the cost of the mission… The budget, however, does not, and cannot, accommodate any of these mission concepts at this time. ... The Outer Planets Flagship project is not funded in FY 2014. NASA is not able to support development of an Outer Planets Flagship mission in the foreseeable future. Instead, as described in the Mars Exploration Program section, available funding supports a future Mars program that is consistent with the first priority of the National Academies' decadal survey for planetary research. “

While Congress added significant new funds to the final FY13 NASA budget to begin work on a Europa mission, this funding is not continued in the new budget proposal.
[...]


I have hope that the budget for Planetary Science would be restored, but unfortunately at the cost of the commercial program. As seen in the president's proposals over the past few years, commercial spaceflight is fully funded but funds are ultimately halved or reduced by Congress.

Plutonium for outer planetary missions will still be manufactured under the proposed budget, however the Europa Clipper mission does not necessarily need RTGs and the spacecraft could use solar panels instead.

Last edited by Unstung; 04-12-2013 at 10:25 AM.
Unstung is offline   Reply With Quote
Thanked by:
Old 05-01-2013, 07:44 AM   #3
Unstung
Orbinaut
 
Unstung's Avatar
Default

The future of the Europa mission depends on the proposed funding level of Planetary Science over the next few years. Currently, news on the Europa mission is news on the Planetary Science budget. This potential flagship mission is the most significant thing to be affected. The funding for New Frontiers and Discovery missions is doing not as poorly, but Cassini's mission may be ended early, in 2015, along with decreased support for other current and future missions.

The American Astronomical Society wrote a statement "condemning the additional cuts to Planetary Science at NASA":
Quote:
Originally Posted by AAS.org
 The AAS is deeply concerned about the Administration’s renewed proposal to cut NASA’s Planetary Science Division, this time by $200 million compared to the 2013 level enacted by Congress and signed by the President last month. At this level, the budget precludes a major mission to any planet other than Mars after 2017, and precludes exploration of Europa, a high priority for the planetary science community. The request also threatens the cadence of Discovery and New Frontiers missions, which are a cornerstone of the Planetary Sciences Decadal Survey to ensure balance among mission classes. The U.S. planetary exploration program has a storied history and a compelling plan for the future. The AAS urges the Administration and the Congress to find a path forward that maintains U.S. leadership in planetary science, rather than ceding future exploration of our solar system to other nations.
[...]
The Planetary Society provided another opinion on the budget that "proposes no funding for maturing the design of a future Europa orbiter even though Congress had just weeks earlier inserted funding for this in the FY13 budget signed by the President".

Last edited by Unstung; 05-01-2013 at 07:46 AM.
Unstung is offline   Reply With Quote
Thanked by:
Old 06-04-2013, 01:25 AM   #4
Unstung
Orbinaut
 
Unstung's Avatar
Default

A well-written blog post that was updated on May 6 details the current state of the Europa Clipper mission which would launch in 2021. The additions to the mission design follows:
Quote:
[...]
During this latest iteration, the Europa team was allowed to raise the cost cap from $1.7 billion to a total of $2.0 billion. (This is still less than half the estimated cost of the previously proposed Jupiter Europa Orbiter.) This increase allowed the addition of a Magnetometer and Langmuir Probes to the payload suite. Rounding out the instrument complement are an Ice-Penetrating Radar, a Thermal Imager, a Neutral-Mass Spectrometer and a Short-Wave Infra-Red Spectrometer.
[...]
The 32-flyby Clipper mission (which can be extended) will still provide more science than a similar-priced orbiter which, with extra shielding, is proposed to orbit Europa for 108 days. The Clipper can carry more science instruments and will utilize a reconnaissance camera that will provide larger areas of <0.5 meter/pixel and stereo coverage than in the 2012 proposal. A primary goal for any Europa mission is to provide high quality imaging of Europa's surface for a future soft lander. Considering that NASA is restarting plutonium production, using reliable MMRTGs on both mission designs are favorable compared to solar cells that will degrade in the high radiation environment around Europa and the unproven ASRTG design.

January 10 file with the mission refinements: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/opag/jan2013...opa_Senske.pdf

Last edited by Unstung; 06-04-2013 at 01:43 AM.
Unstung is offline   Reply With Quote
Thanked by:
Old 08-10-2013, 01:24 AM   #5
Unstung
Orbinaut
 
Unstung's Avatar
Default

New articles discuss the priorities for the lander concept in the Europa mission studies linked to in this thread. The two other alternatives are the less expensive "clipper" and an orbiter.
The paper can be found in the journal Astrobiology and the entire document is viewable to anybody.

JPL: "If We Landed on Europa, What Would We Want to Know?"
Quote:
Most of what scientists know of Jupiter's moon Europa they have gleaned from a dozen or so close flybys from NASA's Voyager 2 spacecraft in 1979 and NASA's Galileo spacecraft in the mid-to-late 1990s. Even in these fleeting, paparazzi-like encounters, scientists have seen a fractured, ice-covered world with tantalizing signs of a liquid water ocean under its surface. Such an environment could potentially be a hospitable home for microbial life. But what if we got to land on Europa's surface and conduct something along the lines of a more in-depth interview? What would scientists ask? A new study in the journal Astrobiology authored by a NASA-appointed science definition team lays out their consensus on the most important questions to address.
[...]
Discovery News: "A Jovian Mystery: It's Time to Land On Europa"
Quote:
The paper, published in the journal Astrobiology, has kicked-off discussions for a future NASA surface mission to Europa.

In the paper’s abstract, the priorities for any surface mission to Europa are laid out:

The highest priority is active sampling of Europa’s non-ice material from at least two different depths (0.5–2 cm and 5–10 cm) to understand its detailed composition and chemistry and the specific nature of salts, any organic materials, and other contaminants. A secondary focus is geophysical prospecting of Europa, through seismology and magnetometry, to probe the satellite’s ice shell and ocean. Finally, the surface geology can be characterized in situ at a human scale.
[...]
Unstung is offline   Reply With Quote
Thanked by:
Old 08-10-2013, 01:57 AM   #6
BruceJohnJennerLawso
Dread Lord of the Idiots
 
BruceJohnJennerLawso's Avatar
Default

Ooh, a Europa landing. That would be too exciting
BruceJohnJennerLawso is offline   Reply With Quote
Thanked by:
Old 08-10-2013, 04:06 PM   #7
sorindafabico
Orbinaut
 
sorindafabico's Avatar
Default

Be careful with the octopus!
sorindafabico is offline   Reply With Quote
Thanked by:
Old 08-13-2013, 09:45 PM   #8
Mader Levap
Orbinaut
Default

I am afraid that we should map decently Europe first in good resolution (preferably MRO-like). Lander should be at earliest second, if not third mission.
Mader Levap is offline   Reply With Quote
Thanked by:
Old 08-14-2013, 12:04 AM   #9
Unstung
Orbinaut
 
Unstung's Avatar
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mader Levap View Post
 I am afraid that we should map decently Europe first in good resolution (preferably MRO-like). Lander should be at earliest second, if not third mission.
I don't prefer the Europa Clipper mission as a first step just because it's cheaper. The flyby mission with a recon camera can map most of the surface with large strips of it in a resolution greater than one meter per pixel. Clipper will also answer all but one "key science questions" that can be seen in the January 10 file. The latest estimates for both non-landing spacecraft are around $2 billion while a lander is closer to $3 billion in the 2012 file. Save the surface mission for a submarine after Europa is mapped.
Unstung is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-06-2013, 04:28 AM   #10
Unstung
Orbinaut
 
Unstung's Avatar
Default

The Planetary Society: "NASA's Europa Mission Concept Rejects ASRGs -- May Use Solar Panels at Jupiter Instead"
Quote:
According to the presented slides, the lack of any previous missions using ASRGs, as well as reliability questions of the moving piston within harsh radiation environment around Europa created an unacceptable risk engineering and cost risk for the mission.
[...]

Although the mission, if it does fly next decade, will probably not use ASRGs due to the risk, there is an informative animation of the technology by NASA. MMRTGs, like those on Cassini, simply require too much plutonium.


PS, the 2012 executive summary for the Europa mission proposals (Clipper, Orbiter, Lander) can be read on NASA's Europa webpage here... or the 707 page full report.
Unstung is offline   Reply With Quote
Thanked by:
Old 01-01-2014, 05:11 AM   #11
Unstung
Orbinaut
 
Unstung's Avatar
Default

Updates:

Europa Clipper has its own Wikipedia page that can still use improvement.

The Destination Europa page has been considerably improved with new graphics and a more satisfying explanation of Europa and the mission.

There was a radio show for the Planetary Society interviewing a scientist from the "Europa Underground" (or Under-ice, a reference to this).

Plumes from Europa's subsurface and "clay-like minerals" deposited on the surface from a collision were discovered, strengthening the case for a mission.

Despite having the ASRG (more efficient radioisotope power generator) program halted, there is enough remaining plutonium for the Europa Clipper:
Unstung is offline   Reply With Quote
Thanked by:
Old 01-10-2014, 07:59 AM   #12
Unstung
Orbinaut
 
Unstung's Avatar
Default

In terms of payload alone, it's more efficient to launch a $2 billion flagship Europa Clipper mission than a descoped $1 billion New Frontiers project that cannot carry half the instrumentation in mass. Comparing the Europa Clipper proposals to two New Frontiers ideas for a Ganymede orbiter and Io multi-flyby mission, Europa Clipper's capabilities are far superior. Europa Clipper will also make many more flybys of Europa than an Io Observer can perform of its respective moon.

On a related topic, the Io Observer may not have a chance to fly due to its reliance on ASRGs, a project that was canceled to preserve Planetary Science funds, possibly for the Cassini mission. The impending ASRG project halt may also be a major reason why the relatively not risky InSight Mars lander mission was chosen over a Titan boat and the Comet Hopper. This also prevents a focused Discovery mission that can study Europa to Enceladus' plumes to Titan's surface.

Future Planetary Exploration: "Europa New Frontiers Mission?"
Unstung is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-19-2014, 03:19 PM   #13
RGClark
Mathematician
 
RGClark's Avatar
Default

The SLS makes possible sample return missions from Europa, which could result in the Earth-shattering discovery of life on another world

http://www.nasa.gov/exploration/syst...-missions.html


Bob Clark
RGClark is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-19-2014, 03:24 PM   #14
RisingFury
OBSP developer
 
RisingFury's Avatar
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by RGClark View Post
 The SLS makes possible sample return missions from Europa, which could result in the Earth-shattering discovery of life on another world

http://www.nasa.gov/exploration/syst...-missions.html


Bob Clark
They'd never use an SLS for that.
RisingFury is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-19-2014, 04:37 PM   #15
RGClark
Mathematician
 
RGClark's Avatar
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by RisingFury View Post
 They'd never use an SLS for that.
This would be something that actually multi billions of dollars per launch would actually be worth it.
BTW, the total cost of the Viking missions to Mars, orbiters and landers, was about $2 billion in 1970's dollars, about $8 billion today.


Bob Clark

Last edited by RGClark; 01-19-2014 at 05:07 PM.
RGClark is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

  Orbiter-Forum > Far Side of the Moon > Spaceflight News


Thread Tools

Posting Rules
BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts
Forum Jump


All times are GMT. The time now is 10:34 PM.

Quick Links Need Help?


About Us | Rules & Guidelines | TOS Policy | Privacy Policy

Orbiter-Forum is hosted at Orbithangar.com
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.11
Copyright ©2000 - 2020, vBulletin Solutions Inc.
Copyright 2007 - 2017, Orbiter-Forum.com. All rights reserved.