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#1 2004-06-03 08:04:14

Palomar
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From: USA
Registered: 2002-05-30
Posts: 9,734

Re: Neptune Orbiter with Probes - ...part of NASA's "Vision Missions"

http://www.spaceref.com/news/viewpr.html?pid=14326]The Big Blue

*Wow...I am ALL FOR THIS!!  smile 

Would incorporate our first nuclear-fission powered exploration 'craft.  Possible polar orbiter -and- atmospheric probes. 

"Like other gas giants ... Neptune has no solid surface, and scientists believe further research of the planet's external and internal structures could yield greater insight into the processes that formed the solar system."

Touts Boeing's credentials and expertise.

Wish they could get this all accomplished in less than 10 years (yeah, right).  smile

--Cindy


We all know those Venusians: Doing their hair in shock waves, smoking electrical coronas, wearing Van Allen belts and resting their tiny elbows on a Geiger counter...

--John Sladek (The New Apocrypha)

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#2 2004-06-04 06:28:17

Shaun Barrett
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From: Cairns, Queensland, Australia
Registered: 2001-12-28
Posts: 2,843

Re: Neptune Orbiter with Probes - ...part of NASA's "Vision Missions"

Sometimes I look at projects like this one and wonder why. I mean Neptune is essentially a cryogenic ball of methane with a rocky core (maybe).
    Admittedly, its big moon Triton is an interesting place with its liquid nitrogen geysers etc., retrograde orbit, and intense cold (-235 deg.C). But I wonder whether the money for a probe could be better spent on more accessible targets in the inner solar system (?).

    Then I remember what people like Carl Sagan, Arthur C. Clarke and other luminaries have taught us: The universe is full of surprises and it will always provide the most fascinating and unexpected phenomena in places you thought you knew well. There have been too many examples of the truth of these wise words for me to attempt to list them.
    So, with faith in the wisdom of my betters, I have to agree with you 100%, Cindy.
    Let's go for it!!
                                           tongue    big_smile


The word 'aerobics' came about when the gym instructors got together and said: If we're going to charge $10 an hour, we can't call it Jumping Up and Down.   - Rita Rudner

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#3 2004-06-04 07:01:20

Palomar
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Re: Neptune Orbiter with Probes - ...part of NASA's "Vision Missions"

*Hi Shaun:  Because it's there!  tongue  wink  Seriously, though, you give a good explanation as to the justification for this (referring to Sagan, Clarke, etc.).  Although I readily admit that, given my amateur astronomer's "like a kid in a candy store" enthusiasm, little additional justification is needed.  :laugh:

I wonder how long it'd take the nuclear-fission powered exploration spacecraft to reach Neptune?  (Asking anyone)

I really hope to see the results of this planned mission within 20 years...I mean complete feedback and etc. 

It's such a vast Solar System, we've still got so much to learn and explore, and I'm becoming more aware of that word "mortality." 

--Cindy

::EDIT::  I wonder too, if along with the studies of Neptune which will be undertaken with this probe to help further investigations of the formation of our Solar System, if the question as to why there are no gaseous MOONS in the Solar System can also be plumbed or explained (if any pro's are even wondering, that is...)

I also think we're going to get a ton of information back from Neptune.


We all know those Venusians: Doing their hair in shock waves, smoking electrical coronas, wearing Van Allen belts and resting their tiny elbows on a Geiger counter...

--John Sladek (The New Apocrypha)

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#4 2004-06-04 09:11:56

REB
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Re: Neptune Orbiter with Probes - ...part of NASA's "Vision Missions"

Neptune is visually one of my favorite planets. I love its deep blue colors, but what else does it have besides looks.

It has an ocean of water (impure with ammonia and other elements) that is about 10,000 miles deep. I would like to see a tough probe dropped, taking some pictures of the upper atmosphere- blue sky, white clouds and all, before plunging into this ocean. There is probably not a distinct surface to this ocean, but there might be.

Then there is Trition, with its nitrogen geysers. A MER type lander would be great here.


"Run for it? Running's not a plan! Running's what you do, once a plan fails!"  -Earl Bassett

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#5 2004-06-04 10:01:57

Palomar
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Re: Neptune Orbiter with Probes - ...part of NASA's "Vision Missions"

Neptune is visually one of my favorite planets. I love its deep blue colors, but what else does it have besides looks.

It has an ocean of water (impure with ammonia and other elements) that is about 10,000 miles deep. I would like to see a tough probe dropped, taking some pictures of the upper atmosphere- blue sky, white clouds and all, before plunging into this ocean. There is probably not a distinct surface to this ocean, but there might be.

Then there is Trition, with its nitrogen geysers. A MER type lander would be great here.

*Yep...beautiful indeed.

Here's an http://encarta.msn.com/encnet/refpages/ … nformative article about Neptune's ocean, and other specifics. 

Too bad its ocean is so hot (amazing); I wanted to go swimming there.  :-\

--Cindy   :;):


We all know those Venusians: Doing their hair in shock waves, smoking electrical coronas, wearing Van Allen belts and resting their tiny elbows on a Geiger counter...

--John Sladek (The New Apocrypha)

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#6 2004-06-04 11:28:56

REB
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Re: Neptune Orbiter with Probes - ...part of NASA's "Vision Missions"

This page gives some good information on the structures of the gas giant planets;

http://brattahlid.tripod.com/sw3-64web. … -64web.htm


This one has a fairly close diagram, but I think they are wrong about the temperature of Neptune and Uranus oceans.

http://zebu.uoregon.edu/disted/ph121/js … /js21.html
The current thinking is that both Neptune and Uranus are Earth sized rocky worlds covered in a 10,000 to 20,000 mile deep ocean (Mainly water), which is covered with a thick atmosphere (mainly hydrogen/helium).


"Run for it? Running's not a plan! Running's what you do, once a plan fails!"  -Earl Bassett

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#7 2004-06-04 20:09:56

Shaun Barrett
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From: Cairns, Queensland, Australia
Registered: 2001-12-28
Posts: 2,843

Re: Neptune Orbiter with Probes - ...part of NASA's "Vision Missions"

Oceans of water at 4700 deg.C ?!!!
Only 3% methane?

    Ooops! I think some of those surprises Sagan and Clarke promised me have hit home already!!
    I really need to brush up on my general knowledge of the outer planets.
                                         yikes   :laugh:


The word 'aerobics' came about when the gym instructors got together and said: If we're going to charge $10 an hour, we can't call it Jumping Up and Down.   - Rita Rudner

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#8 2004-08-19 13:04:15

Palomar
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From: USA
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Re: Neptune Orbiter with Probes - ...part of NASA's "Vision Missions"

Oceans of water at 4700 deg.C ?!!!
Only 3% methane?

    Ooops! I think some of those surprises Sagan and Clarke promised me have hit home already!!

*Hi Shaun:

Yep...too warm to go swimming on Neptune.  Adrian needs to install a crying emoticon for me.   :;):

Speaking of "more surprises in store," check out this tidbit from space.com's "Astrobytes" is any indication (hurry up with the Neptune orbiter!) -- up to 50 moons possible:

"August 19

Neptune's Ragtag Moons

The 13 known moons of Neptune are a ragtag bunch similar to what exists around other giant planets, according to an analysis in the Aug. 19 issue of the journal Nature.

Five of the 13 satellites were reported in 2003 (including three in a SPACE.com article) and represented the first batch discovered since 1989. The newfound satellites range in size from 19-31 miles (30-50 kilometers). Two orbit in the same direction as Neptune's rotation, and three orbit backward, a motion known as retrograde.

All of these small satellites might be captured asteroids, according to a team led by Matthew Holman of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. One, named S/2001 N 1, might be a fragment caused by a collision with the larger Neptunian moon Nereid, Holman told SPACE.com.

Discovered in 1949, Nereid is also about 211 miles (340 kilometers) wide and may be a captured asteroid itself, scientists say. Neptune's largest satellite, Triton, is as big as Pluto, and oddly it traces a retrograde orbit -- unlike other major moons in the solar system. Astronomers say the backward motion suggests even Triton may have been captured. (Astronomers don't know if moons generally form along with a planet or separately.)

Meanwhile, two small satellites were found around Saturn recently, brining its total to 33. Jupiter has 63 known moons. More are expected for both gas giants. Uranus, the other icy giant planet, has 21. Holman said Neptune probably harbors around 50 moons, based on how many have been found, the limited nature of the search so far (Neptune is way, way out there), and what's known about the other giant planets."

--Cindy


We all know those Venusians: Doing their hair in shock waves, smoking electrical coronas, wearing Van Allen belts and resting their tiny elbows on a Geiger counter...

--John Sladek (The New Apocrypha)

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#9 2004-11-01 20:01:59

Palomar
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From: USA
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Re: Neptune Orbiter with Probes - ...part of NASA's "Vision Missions"

http://antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/ap010619.html]Truly beyond words...

*Takes one's breath away (again).  :up:

I remember this image in an astronomy magazine of the time.  Thank you Astropix, for reproducing it!  Always a treasure at that web site. 

Really want to get a probe mission to Neptune and its system.

--Cindy


We all know those Venusians: Doing their hair in shock waves, smoking electrical coronas, wearing Van Allen belts and resting their tiny elbows on a Geiger counter...

--John Sladek (The New Apocrypha)

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#10 2004-11-02 00:49:22

Stephen
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Re: Neptune Orbiter with Probes - ...part of NASA's "Vision Missions"

Then there is Trition, with its nitrogen geysers. A MER type lander would be great here..

Not necessarily.

Quite apart from the obvious power problem (out at Triton, solar cells are going to be pretty much useless), there is another more serious issue.

A few nights ago I was watching a video I'd taped years ago of an (excellent) British documentary of the Voyager 2 encounter with Neptune in 1989.  While I was watching that documentary it occurred to me that any machine from Earth which lands on Triton may have to deal with a major problem.

As the documentary explained, scientists believe that Triton is covered by a thin layer (a metre or so) of nitrogen ice, a layer that exists at a temperature only a handful of degrees above absolute zero.

Now imagine you landed a MER-type rover on top of that ice. The very wheels of that rover are going to be dozens if not hundreds of degrees warmer than that supercooled nitrogen. As a result they are going to start melting that ice like a hot knife into butter (to borrow a metaphor from the documentary). As it melts the ice, the rover as a whole will probably start sinking into the Tritonian surface. As it sinks, it going to find itself surrounded (if not overwhelming) by melting slush, which in turn is going to start cooling the rover. If it cools it far enough, the nitrogen is going to refreeze, trapping the vehicle.

The rover might  pump out more heat to try to prevent such a fate, but doing so would merely make the rover sink further, eventually reaching a point where all that frozen nitrogen is going to wind up cooling the rover to the point where it will "kill" it, much as too much Martian cold can kill Spirit & Opportunity.

In other words, landing on that nitrogen ice would in effect be like landing on a kind of quicksand.

As far as I can see the only real way to stop a vehicle getting caught by that kind of trap (apart from some kind of aerial vehicle) would be to try to keep to rocky surfaces or to have all parts of the rover which come into contact with Triton's surface supercooled to much the same temperature as the nitrogen ice they are standing on so as to prevent it sinking in the first place. In turn, those supercooled parts would (of course) have to be insulated in some fashion from the rest of the vehicle.

All that is likely to increase the weight, size, & complexity of such a machine.

(Not that it probably won't get worse. That layer of nitrogen may mean it may never be possible, for example, for a human astronaut to stand on the surface of Triton.) sad


======
Stephen

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#11 2004-11-02 12:35:07

remcook
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Re: Neptune Orbiter with Probes - ...part of NASA's "Vision Missions"

..though I suspect slowing down enough to land is the main problem here....

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#12 2004-11-25 10:15:36

Yang Liwei Rocket
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Posts: 993

Re: Neptune Orbiter with Probes - ...part of NASA's "Vision Missions"

that could be


however a Neptune mission will be great

smile


'first steps are not for cheap, think about it...
did China build a great Wall in a day ?' ( Y L R newmars forum member )

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#13 2004-11-26 07:29:52

Palomar
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From: USA
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Posts: 9,734

Re: Neptune Orbiter with Probes - ...part of NASA's "Vision Missions"

*Glad this thread came up again.  I've checked NASA's mission homepage and Google (I searched with Neptune Orbiter Probes)...not much additional information to be read, but that's probably not surprising.  I was looking for tentative date.  One was given:  2014.  However, the dreaded words "or later" was also tacked on.  :-\

--Cindy

::EDIT::  Referring back to my post of August 19 -- the article I quoted -- I think it'd be cool if Neptune's moon count is second only to Jupiter's.  :up:


We all know those Venusians: Doing their hair in shock waves, smoking electrical coronas, wearing Van Allen belts and resting their tiny elbows on a Geiger counter...

--John Sladek (The New Apocrypha)

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#14 2004-11-26 20:11:12

Mad Grad Student
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From: Phoenix, Arizona, North Americ
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Re: Neptune Orbiter with Probes - ...part of NASA's "Vision Missions"

Perhpas this could be done as a companion mission with JIMO. NASA could build two identical probes, outfit one with instruments for Jupiter's moons and one with instruments for Neptune and send them both on their way. It's fun to imagine on stuff like that but ultimately pointless when you think about it. Still, that would be pretty cool to turn JIMO into a two-for-almost-one deal and explore Neptune for the first time in detail.

Neptune shure is a weird place and really deserves more attention than it's recieved. The same thing can also be said about Uranus; as soon as MESSENGER enters orbit around Mercury they will be the only two planets (plus Kuiper belt stuff) never to have been sent an orbiter. On the surface they might not look as interesting as Mars or Jupiter, but who knows what secrets the two small gas giants might be holding. I wish this mission the best of luck, but realistically speaking it's going to need a lot of luck to get off the pad.

But hey, if SS1 can do it...  :;):


A mind is like a parachute- it works best when open.

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#15 2004-12-09 07:28:41

SpaceNut
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Posts: 26,787

Re: Neptune Orbiter with Probes - ...part of NASA's "Vision Missions"

Here is some more on the outer planet exploration.
Nuclear-powered mission to Neptune could answer questions about planetary formation

In 30 years, a nuclear-powered space exploration mission to Neptune and its moons may begin to reveal some of our solar system's most elusive secrets about the formation of its planets -- and recently discovered ones that developed around other stars.

This vision of the future is the focus of a 12-month planning study conducted by a diverse team of experts led by Boeing Satellite Systems and funded by NASA. It is one of 15 "Vision Mission" studies intended to develop concepts in the United States' long-term space exploration plans.

A mission to investigate the origin and structure of Neptune --expected to launch between 2016 and 2018 and arrive around 2035 -- will increase scientists' understanding of diverse planetary formation in our solar system.

The plan is based on the availability of nuclear-electric propulsion technology under development in NASA's Project Prometheus. A traditional chemical rocket would launch the spacecraft out of Earth orbit. Then an electric propulsion system powered by a small nuclear fission reactor – a modified submarine-type technology -- would propel the spacecraft to its deep-space target. The propulsion system would generate thrust by expelling electrically charged particles called ions from its engines.

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#16 2004-12-09 10:10:27

Palomar
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Re: Neptune Orbiter with Probes - ...part of NASA's "Vision Missions"

In 30 years

A mission to investigate the origin and structure of Neptune --expected to launch between 2016 and 2018 and arrive around 2035 --

*That long??  sad  Adrian, where's the crying emoticon??

Guess I'd better start cutting back on salt, start eating EggBeaters instead of real eggs and cut out most red meats NOW.  In 2035 I'll be -- don't want to even think about it!  But still "young" enough, probably, so as not to have Alzheimer's and be able to follow the mission.   

Bummer, though; majorly.  Thought the travel time would be shorter than that (given the nuclear involvement).  :-\

Yeah, I know it takes probes a while to get out there -- but I didn't want to read THIS.

--Cindy


We all know those Venusians: Doing their hair in shock waves, smoking electrical coronas, wearing Van Allen belts and resting their tiny elbows on a Geiger counter...

--John Sladek (The New Apocrypha)

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#17 2004-12-09 10:32:12

Cobra Commander
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Re: Neptune Orbiter with Probes - ...part of NASA's "Vision Missions"

Bummer, though; majorly.  Thought the travel time would be shorter than that (given the nuclear involvement).  :-\

Nuclear power source, regular old slow chemical propulsion presumably.

I'm of the opinion that if the travel time on these missions could be greatly sped up (via nuclear propulsion or otherwise) that we might see more public interest. The public attention span is a problem we need to deal with.

As well as my own impatience in such matters. big_smile

2035 eh... This will not do.  :angry:


Build a man a fire and he's warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he's warm for the rest of his life.

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#18 2004-12-09 11:23:22

SpaceNut
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Re: Neptune Orbiter with Probes - ...part of NASA's "Vision Missions"

And that is all on the bet that nuclear power for prometheus is developed on time and not delay or cut from future budget years between now and the far off future.

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#19 2004-12-09 12:15:44

Palomar
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Re: Neptune Orbiter with Probes - ...part of NASA's "Vision Missions"

*Don't say that, SpaceNut.  sad   :;):

so studying it would give scientists a better understanding of the conditions that led to the formation of the Solar System.

*They say that in all articles pertaining to new missions.  It's true...but it seems unnecessary, considering studying Neptune and its moon "upclose and personal" is reason enough (for me, anyway!).

The plan is based on the availability of nuclear-electric propulsion technology under development in NASA's Project Prometheus. A traditional chemical rocket would launch the spacecraft out of Earth orbit. Then an electric propulsion system powered by a small nuclear fission reactor - a modified submarine-type technology -- would propel the spacecraft to its deep-space target. The propulsion system would generate thrust by expelling electrically charged particles called ions from its engines.

Because of the large scientific payload a nuclear-electric propelled spacecraft can carry and power, the Neptune mission holds great promise for scientific discovery, Steffes said.

(Last time I'll say it, I promise:  And yet we have to wait 30 years?  <frown>)

*Landers on Triton and etc. 

I look forward to it all.  :up:

--Cindy


We all know those Venusians: Doing their hair in shock waves, smoking electrical coronas, wearing Van Allen belts and resting their tiny elbows on a Geiger counter...

--John Sladek (The New Apocrypha)

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#20 2004-12-09 12:55:10

SpaceNut
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Re: Neptune Orbiter with Probes - ...part of NASA's "Vision Missions"

The last workshop by Nasa was August 24.
http://probews2.arc.nasa.gov/Conf_Session3.shtml
Page gives reference to a Neptune polar orbitor and team info but not much else can be gotten.


sad to long wait :down:

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#21 2004-12-12 19:00:36

Stephen
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Registered: 2004-01-16
Posts: 68

Re: Neptune Orbiter with Probes - ...part of NASA's "Vision Missions"

http://www.astrobio.net/news/modules.ph … trobiology Magazine has some info on a proposed JIMO-style Neptune Orbiter (with three Neptune atmospheric probes & two Triton landers). The catch: we may have to wait 30 years before it actually reaches Neptune! (Although it is "expected to launch between 2016 and 2018" it will not arrive until about 2035.)


======
Stephen

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#22 2004-12-12 22:44:53

GraemeSkinner
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Posts: 563
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Re: Neptune Orbiter with Probes - ...part of NASA's "Vision Missions"

Twenty years to travel to Neptune, in that length of time we may have develped a new propulsion system that could get us there in a fraction of that and overtake the probe before it gets there.

If it does arrive in 2035, that will just be in time for me to retire from work so I can spend more time watching the coverage.

Graeme


There was a young lady named Bright.
Whose speed was far faster than light;
She set out one day
in a relative way
And returned on the previous night.
--Arthur Buller--

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#23 2004-12-13 03:39:13

Shaun Barrett
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From: Cairns, Queensland, Australia
Registered: 2001-12-28
Posts: 2,843

Re: Neptune Orbiter with Probes - ...part of NASA's "Vision Missions"

Graeme:-

If it does arrive in 2035, that will just be in time for me to retire from work so I can spend more time watching the coverage.

    GREAT!!
    You'll be retiring from work and I'll be retiring from breathing!!!   :angry:   tongue    :laugh:


The word 'aerobics' came about when the gym instructors got together and said: If we're going to charge $10 an hour, we can't call it Jumping Up and Down.   - Rita Rudner

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#24 2004-12-13 04:16:56

GraemeSkinner
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From: Eden Hall, Cumbria
Registered: 2004-02-20
Posts: 563
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Re: Neptune Orbiter with Probes - ...part of NASA's "Vision Missions"

Graeme:-

If it does arrive in 2035, that will just be in time for me to retire from work so I can spend more time watching the coverage.

    GREAT!!
    You'll be retiring from work and I'll be retiring from breathing!!!   :angry:   tongue    :laugh:

I'm just hoping the two events don't coincide.

Graeme


There was a young lady named Bright.
Whose speed was far faster than light;
She set out one day
in a relative way
And returned on the previous night.
--Arthur Buller--

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#25 2004-12-15 13:39:28

SpaceNut
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From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 26,787

Re: Neptune Orbiter with Probes - ...part of NASA's "Vision Missions"

Reaching Toward Neptune: Two Ways to Explore an Ice Giant

In the separate studies, planetary scientists and engineers are drawing up plans to send an orbiter laden with atmospheric probes and landers to Neptune, the eighth planet from the Sun. While each mission has its own way of reaching Neptune, both seek a better understanding of the planet and its surrounding 13 known moons, especially the oddball Triton.

Neptune's largest moon Triton, which astronomers believe is a non-native captive of its parent planet. It circles Neptune in a retrograde orbit, in the opposite direction of Neptune's rotation. It has a gossamer thin atmosphere where parachutes would be useless for any landing probe.

As noted previously in order to achive a decent timeline it will probably steal from the prometheus propulsion and may actually fly first instead of the JIMO mission.

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