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#1 2008-04-13 20:09:34

SpaceNut
Administrator
From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 23,345

Re: Outer Planets Flagship mission (OPF)

Flagship probes of billion dollar costs seem to be the norm and as the MSL reaches into this same number of dollars it becomes apparent that cutting edge technology is not the way to go.

Dynamic Outer Planets Expedition Readied

NASA and the European Space Agency are rapidly developing a $3-billion outer planets flagship effort that could barnstorm the giant icebergs and subsurface oceans of Jupiter's moon Europa, or deliver a low-altitude imaging airship and a miniature submarine to probe the methane lakes on Saturn's moon Titan.

Teams from the U.S. and Europe are to meet this week in Vienna to refine Titan/Saturn concepts; a similar definition meeting will be held in Rome Apr. 21-24 to weigh Jupiter/Europa concepts.

The results will be reviewed at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory May 8-9 and in Los Angeles May 12-15.

A major instrument workshop, to be held at JPL June 3-5, will then begin final mission definition for selection in November and inclusion in the new NASA federal budget. Either mission will be a powerhouse of advanced technologies.

And each would explore whether life has a foothold far from Earth in warm, watery "Shangri-La's" deeply hidden in the frozen kingdom of the giant planets where a balmy day is -250F.

Outer planet flagship managers do not want to become "station stuck" - bogged down in a ponderously slow program like the shuttle/International Space Station effort.

Therefore the outer planets flagship will be readied on a fast-paced schedule designed to depart from Cape Canaveral in 2016 and (much like the Cassini spacecraft) arrive at either Jupiter or Saturn, 500 million and 1 billion mi. from Earth, respectively, no more than seven years later.

It is nearly the same schedule that NASA is eyeing for the start of manned Earth-orbit flights via its Constellation program shuttle replacement, using older technologies. It would be the next step to pressing on to renew manned ops on the Moon, only 240,000 mi. away.

NASA will spend $2 billion on the flight while ESA, and possibly Japan and Russia, will contribute $1 billion. Two missions are in competition:

Europa/Jupiter System Mission (EJSM) would involve one orbiter circling the Jovian moon Europa in search of indications of life in an ocean believed to be under iceberg terrain. That orbiter would characterize every aspect of Europa while one or two other EJSM orbiters would circle Jupiter to study the giant planet and its other moons. ESA has labeled the EJSM flight "LaPlace" (AW&ST Oct. 29, 2007, p. 30). If approved, it would directly follow NASA's $700-million Juno Jupiter atmospheric science orbiter set for launch in 2011.

Titan/Saturn System Mission (TSSM) would image the lakes, streams and other extraordinary terrain of Saturn's enigmatic moon, which is covered in organics - the building blocks of early life. The mission would center on a "Montgolfier" hot air balloon that would float for perhaps two years at low altitude in Titan's methane atmosphere.

The imaging balloon would also carry two or three surface probes with two-day lifetimes that could be dropped on areas of special interest. One probe, the methane lake boat, or submarine, would explore one of the most bizarre surfaces in the solar system.

A companion TSSM orbiter would orbit Saturn and focus on Enceladus.

Cassini's late March dive through south polar water geysers blasting high above Saturn's moon Enceladus (see graphic, p. 30) has reengergized the search for life on the moons of the outer planets. Cassini's findings showed that the geysers consist of water and organics that could support life, and that subsurface temperatures where they emerge could possibly sustain life forms known on Earth.

Cassini's radar data of Titan gives the mission a competitive edge.

The radar continues to return data on Titan showing lake, river, stream and mountain features similar to those found on Earth, especially the southwestern Africa region, researchers say.

On Titan, however, nearly one billion mi. from Earth where temperatures are -290F, such features are caused by methane rain. Erosion measurements indicate that it not only rains methane, but that occasionally does so in torrents, Cassini scientists told the 39th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (LPSC) in Houston in March. More than 1,500 exploration managers and researchers from around the world attended.

Many were amazed to see that numerous mountain peaks up to 2,000 meters (6,600 ft.) dot Titan, some with slopes of 30-50 deg. Unusually widespread low rugged "crinkly" terrain may be left over from the moon's formation that caused crustal shrinkage.

There are mountain ranges, areas of large, low hills, and eroded mesas. Radar imagery shows extremely diverse terrain around Titan's south pole with lakes, channels, depositional terrain, and possible impact craters, as well as evidence of cryovulcanism. There are also dry lake beds similar to those that dot the western U.S.

The radar does not have the high-resolution capabilities to match imagery from the European Huygens lander that showed extremely complex stream terrain descending to a damp shoreline.

But the radar resolution is good enough to indicate that similar stream features are widespread on the moon.

Titan's north pole, however, is dominated by large methane lakes with dozens of bays "that would be a suitable anchorage for anybody's sailboat," one scientist says. Methane depths in lakes are well over 1 meter.

Researchers tried to find areas of Earth that are analogous to those on Titan, given an analysis of evaporation there that leaves damp or dry lake bed areas in addition to well-formed lakes, streams and medium-scale mountain terrain.

They determined that it would have to be a semi-arid area (in relative terms), keeping in mind that Titan is a frozen world with flowing methane, not water.

Comparing the look of lower-resolution NASA Landsat and European Envisat radar imagery of areas on Earth, Cassini researchers discovered that the border where northern Namibia and southern Angola meet appears much like Titan in terms of the mix of major terrain, stream and lake features.

But an outer planet flagship mission comes at the expense of similarly high budgets for Mars, just as two major Mars spacecraft developments are in distress.

In an unrelated Mars funding situation that could have shut down either Spirit or Opportunity on the Martian surface, Alan Stern, who headed the NASA Science Mission Directorate, resigned from NASA when Administrator Mike Griffin reversed a decision that could have sidelined a rover but aided other space science goals.

Stern believed it was the only way to redress an overall science funding imbalance caused by White House and Congressional cuts.

Some ESA managers are also tangled in the brouhaha befitting Mars as the mythological God of War.

NASA and European Mars managers and scientists are concerned that in light of the cuts, NASA's Mars robotic sample return mission, planned for about 2020, will be done on the cheap.

They also worry about adequate follow-up funding to keep Mars exploration at its current pace.

"The Mars community is losing a program painstakingly built up over the past decade," says Louis Friedman, executive director of The Planetary Society, a major space lobbying group.

"We are trying to sell Mars in Europe but now we have our legs cut from under us," Frances Westall, head of astrobiology at Europe's Institute for Scientific and Technical Information, told Griffin in an LPSC session attended by 300.

That drew a sharp response from the administrator about giving a political tutorial in the midst of what was to be a question-and-answer session.

Tempers are flaring because Mars remains the ultimate goal of the Bush administration's Vision for Space Exploration. Also a cadre of international Mars capability has now been developed.

In fact, a top level review group that recently met at Stanford University to consider alternate Vision goals came out strongly in favor of even more emphasis on Mars.

But a recent survey by the National Academy of Sciences rating NASA lunar and planetary exploration performance gave the agency a subpar "D" on its outer planets exploration plan, while Mars received an "A."

Griffin says he had to address the imbalance. And to do this he needs to scale Mars funding back for about five years to a $350-million-per-year level and increasing outer planets funding.

This was the Mars program's previous average prior to development of the large Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) rover set for launch in 2009 to be powered with plutonium from Russia.

But now MSL is on thin ice as far as funding and may still be slipped to a 2011 launch, says Griffin.

Like the new outer planets mission, MSL is the Mars program's flagship mission for this decade.

NASA managers say that just because Mars is a Bush Vision goal does not cancel out U.S. responsibility for leading flagship missions to the outer planets. Such missions are beginning to involve a search for alien life forms like those also being sought at Mars.

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#2 2008-04-13 21:01:25

Commodore
Member
From: Upstate NY, USA
Registered: 2004-07-25
Posts: 1,021

Re: Outer Planets Flagship mission (OPF)

What on the MSL do you think is so close to the cutting edge to not be worth the risk for the overall cost?

I question the Skycrane landing mode.

As for these new missions, it a simple matter of not having enough cash to work with, and legislators who don't look beyond the next election cycle.


"Yes, I was going to give this astronaut selection my best shot, I was determined when the NASA proctologist looked up my ass, he would see pipes so dazzling he would ask the nurse to get his sunglasses."
---Shuttle Astronaut Mike Mullane

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#3 2008-04-14 06:56:48

Terraformer
Member
From: Logres
Registered: 2007-08-27
Posts: 3,363
Website

Re: Outer Planets Flagship mission (OPF)

Why are they using a Hot Air balloon forTitan instead of a Hydrogen balloon?


"I guarantee you that at some point, everything's going to go south on you, and you're going to say, 'This is it, this is how I end.' Now you can either accept that, or you can get to work." - Mark Watney

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#4 2008-04-15 05:04:55

cIclops
Member
Registered: 2005-06-16
Posts: 3,230

Re: Outer Planets Flagship mission (OPF)

Thanks for the link Spacenut. OPF looks like it's going ahead as ESA and JAXA are getting involved - maybe the Russian's too!

(changed topic subject)

Lots of presentations here about the various projects


Let's go to Mars and far beyond -  triple NASA's budget !   #space channel !!    - videos !!!

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#5 2015-09-07 20:47:55

SpaceNut
Administrator
From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 23,345

Re: Outer Planets Flagship mission (OPF)

wow 2008, update.... NASA team designing sub to explore Titan’s seas

titan-sub.jpg

An engineering team at NASA’s Glenn Research Center (GRC) in Cleveland, Ohio, is designing one of the most unusual vehicles in NASA’s history – a submarine.

No, NASA has not taken over for the Navy. This is not just any submarine. This submarine is designed to explore an environment never-before-seen by humans – the liquid hydrocarbon lakes and seas of Saturn’s largest moon, Titan.

Instruments aboard the sub would allow scientists to measure the trace organic components of the sea, which may exhibit prebiotic chemical evolution. A benthic sampler will collect and analyze sediment from the seabed. Examining the sediment, along with side-scan sonar readings of the seafloor’s morphology, may reveal evidence of historical cycles of filling and drying of Titan’s seas.

Kraken Mare and the moon’s other vast northern polar hydrocarbon seas. Cassini’s radar has measured the depths of these bodies, some at only a few meters, while others, such as Kraken Mare, measured more than 660 feet (200 meters) deep, the maximum depth the Cassini radar can penetrate.

However, creating a sub that can survive, travel, and successfully operate in the cold temperatures and strange conditions of a cryogenic sea was the challenge of the sub’s designers.

oleson_external_components_titan_sub.jpg

oleson_internal_components_titan_sub.jpg

Lots of details to many to post....

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#6 2015-09-07 22:02:31

RobertDyck
Moderator
From: Winnipeg, Canada
Registered: 2002-08-20
Posts: 6,768
Website

Re: Outer Planets Flagship mission (OPF)

Submarine on another world? In a sea that isn't water? Way too cool!

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#7 2015-09-18 20:05:42

Excelsior
Member
From: Excelsior, USA
Registered: 2014-02-22
Posts: 120

Re: Outer Planets Flagship mission (OPF)

They need standardized orbiter, rover, and lander designs, capable of excepting modular plug in payloads. The price of these one-off missions severely limits what we can do.

We can drop a billion dollars on a submarine to Titan, or we can plan one applicable to Titan, Europa, Enceladus, and perhaps more.

Last edited by Excelsior (2015-09-18 20:13:42)


The Former Commodore

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#8 2015-09-21 11:50:37

Tom Kalbfus
Banned
Registered: 2006-08-16
Posts: 4,401

Re: Outer Planets Flagship mission (OPF)

RobertDyck wrote:

Submarine on another world? In a sea that isn't water? Way too cool!

Yep, you wouldn't want to swim in that ocean, because it is way too cool, literally! It would be nice if I could live long enough to witness the colonization of Mars and Titan. Problem is that scientists do a lot of tinkering, but people still die in their 80s and 90s, and they still look old, they get wrinkles get gray hair or lose their hair, get feeble, their mind goes, and they need lots of help to get around. I had a grandmother who lived into her mid 90s, she ended her life in a nursing home, she still needed a wheelchair, a walker, and people to help her get around, feed herself, go to the bathroom etc. I am so not looking forward to getting old. Lets say I live to be 90 years old, that brings me to the year 2057 AD. I hope they make some real medical advances by then so I don't have to be a pruny toothless wrinkled old man watching a television and not comprehending it. if I live to be 80, which is more likely, it will be 2047.

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#9 2015-09-21 12:02:34

Tom Kalbfus
Banned
Registered: 2006-08-16
Posts: 4,401

Re: Outer Planets Flagship mission (OPF)

Excelsior wrote:

They need standardized orbiter, rover, and lander designs, capable of excepting modular plug in payloads. The price of these one-off missions severely limits what we can do.

We can drop a billion dollars on a submarine to Titan, or we can plan one applicable to Titan, Europa, Enceladus, and perhaps more.

Titan is a sort of unique place in the Solar System, it is the first outer planet moon we have ever landed a space probe on, the first outer solar system body we ever came in contact with.
PIA08115_n.jpg
This is our first look at the surface of an outer planet moon, any outer planet moon! The thing is, Titan is probably the easiest outer planet moon to land on, all you need is a parachute, it is not even this easy to land on Mars!

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#10 2020-06-13 12:49:45

SpaceNut
Administrator
From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 23,345

Re: Outer Planets Flagship mission (OPF)

I remember that we talked about titan a balloon for exploration.

Void wrote:

(th), perhaps you could look at Titan, for your various balloon methods.

Deeper atmosphere, cold Nitrogen dominant, lower gravity.

Maybe something on your methods could prove useful. 

Perhaps the heat of entry could warm the contents, and provide buoyancy.  And of course you could use a lifting gas as well.

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