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Tiny Sub to Search for Europa Life?

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#1    Waspie_Dwarf

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Posted 11 June 2013 - 01:15 PM

Tiny Submersible Could Search for Life in Europa's Ocean


www.astrobio.net said:

One of the first visitors to Jupiter's icy moon of Europa could be a tiny submarine barely larger than two soda cans. The small craft might help strike the right balance between cost and capability for a robotic mission to look for alien life in the ocean beneath Europa's icy crust.

The idea for the incredible shrinking submarine originally came from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in California and Uppsala University in Sweden. Such a vehicle would help keep mission costs low at a time when launching objects into space can still cost tens of thousands of dollars per kilogram. The mission concept also would have the advantage of only requiring a small borehole drilled through the ice covering Europa's surface.        

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#2    Ever Learning

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Posted 11 June 2013 - 01:39 PM

awesome, this is so much cooler than the mars rover

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#3    Waspie_Dwarf

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Posted 11 June 2013 - 01:53 PM

View PostArmchair Educated, on 11 June 2013 - 01:39 PM, said:

awesome, this is so much cooler than the mars rover
Except that the Mars rovers actually exist, whilst this is just a proposal.

It isn't about what is "cool", it's about what is feasible and affordable. It is also about what scientific results they return. The Mars rovers have made many discoveries about Mars and expanded our knowledge of that planet immensely. I may be a geek but I think that's cool.

If this sub ever gets built, flown to Europa, works and makes discoveries then that will be cool to, but there are an awful lot of "ifs" at the moment.

"Space is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-boggingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the street to the chemist, but that's just peanuts to space." - The Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams 1952 - 2001

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#4    Merc14

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Posted 11 June 2013 - 04:02 PM

Europa is the dream mission for many people but I think we are decades away from a mission that actually penetrates the ice mantle and swims in Europa's ocean.  Just getting below the ice is a huge undertaking but then you add in the crushing pressures, the distances involved, a science payload that makes the trip worth the effort..  Just thinking about a miles long fiber optic surviving the ice for any reasonable amount of time makes my head hurt.

I think they'll settle for a surface penetrator that gets 20 or 30 feet down into the ice and does its science there.  It is safe from Jupiter's radiation at that depth and would provide some amazing data.  Is life possible in this zone?  If you land near a rift I'd say maybe but it is a years long trip and rifts come and go.  Regardless, this type of mission is doable at this time and would provide some amazing science.  I say go with this rather than wait till we can swim in Europa's oceans with a ROV.

Nice midterms democrats.  As Pelosi says, "Embrace the suck".

#5    Frank Merton

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Posted 11 June 2013 - 04:09 PM

What would we be likely to find?  Probably nothing without much more looking, maybe the rough equivalent of bacteria, although they wouldn't be photosynthesizing.


#6    kannin

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Posted 13 June 2013 - 12:32 AM

you never know what they could find hence the fact weve never been or explored it, in guess theres many theories


#7    shrooma

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Posted 13 June 2013 - 03:00 AM

''could''
one day.


#8    shrooma

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Posted 13 June 2013 - 03:09 AM

sorry for being a pessim
pesemm
pesimis
a ****ing pfft! merchant, but NOTHING has gone to Europa since Arthur C Clarke told us about it in the '80's, and NOTHING's changed.
.
and it probably won't, no matter how optimistic I may be.....

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#9    Merc14

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Posted 13 June 2013 - 03:42 AM

View Postshrooma, on 13 June 2013 - 03:09 AM, said:

sorry for being a pessim
pesemm
pesimis
a ****ing pfft! merchant, but NOTHING has gone to Europa since Arthur C Clarke told us about it in the '80's, and NOTHING's changed.
.
and it probably won't, no matter how optimistic I may be.....

Europa is a long ways away and a very difficult place to land on, much less explore but they are trying to devise a plan now.  We have probes on Mars that are doing amazing things and a probe on the way to Pluto, of all places, just to take a look.  We are about to launch the Webb observatory which, if it works, will be one of the most amazing technlogical achievements man has ever accomnplished IMHO.  Working out there in unbeklievable conditions that they had to invet materials for just to survive. Yeah, LHC is huge but personally I can't wait to see Webb's first images.

Believe it or not, you are living on the cusp of an era which may encompass some of the biggest scientific achievements in all of mankind's history.  We are exploring long dreamed of frontiers in both the very small  and very large.  The LHC is a marvel and the Webb will show us things that will keep astronomers busy for a hundred years.  It will make Hubble look like an antgique and i love the Hubble.  New computers that were undreamed of a decade ago sit in the palm of our hands and my desktop computer probably has more power than all computing devices combined from 20 or 30 years ago and I built the thing from parts I bought over the internet.  That right there is science fiction 30 years ago.

Edited by Merc14, 13 June 2013 - 03:44 AM.

Nice midterms democrats.  As Pelosi says, "Embrace the suck".

#10    Frank Merton

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Posted 13 June 2013 - 05:45 AM

I have no problem with looking for life on Europa, since of course finding life anywhere would give us a second example and therefore be of huge biological-science importance.  It's just that I think the chances of finding it, even if it is present there, are small, at least with foreseeable technology.


#11    Zeta Reticulum

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Posted 13 June 2013 - 08:27 AM

View PostFrank Merton, on 13 June 2013 - 05:45 AM, said:

I have no problem with looking for life on Europa, since of course finding life anywhere would give us a second example and therefore be of huge biological-science importance.  It's just that I think the chances of finding it, even if it is present there, are small, at least with foreseeable technology.
And if they do find it.... we will never be told about it.


#12    Waspie_Dwarf

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Posted 13 June 2013 - 09:12 AM

View PostZeta Reticulum, on 13 June 2013 - 08:27 AM, said:

And if they do find it.... we will never be told about it.
Total rubbish as usual. Why would NASA and other space agencies be spending large sums of money searching for life and making the results public if they are trying to hide the truth?

Given the choice between highly educated and knowledgeable scientists and a person that can't answer even the most basic scientific questions but believes that the things that survived a global nuclear holocaust on Mars were wood and plastic I know who my money is on.



"Space is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-boggingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the street to the chemist, but that's just peanuts to space." - The Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams 1952 - 2001

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#13    shrooma

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Posted 13 June 2013 - 09:58 AM

i'm in total agreement with you both merc & waspie, that if we did manage to get to europa, it would be one of mankind's greatest (and coolest!) achievements. unfortunately, not everyone sees science the same way we do, they tend to view it as being very expensive with little or no gain, instead of seeing it as a chance to learn something, and a way of pushing against the boundary of what's possible.
but that still doesn't mean we can't keep our fingers crossed eh!

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#14    Waspie_Dwarf

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Posted 13 June 2013 - 10:36 AM

View Postshrooma, on 13 June 2013 - 09:58 AM, said:

i'm in total agreement with you both merc & waspie, that if we did manage to get to europa, it would be one of mankind's greatest (and coolest!) not everyone sees science the same way we do, they tend to view it as being very expensive with little or no gain,

Whilst that is true I don't think it is the majority view.

We also have to be realistic, in a time of world wide recession, and when many people are facing austerity, missions to other worlds are difficult to sell.

Even in times when the world economy is booming there is only a finite budget for space exploration. When NASA (or ESA for that matter) propose a new mission there are always many proposals, only one of which will get funded. Many a good proposal has not made it to the design and construction stage.

The space agencies also have to walk a fine line. On the one hand there is the desire to push the boundaries of science and engineering, to go with something truly innovative (like this mini-sub). On the other hand "failure is not an option" has become a mantra too. Highly innovative missions are more likely to fail. Too many failures and people think the money is being wasted.

Buzz Aldrin argues that failure must be an option (he believes NASA should be aiming for manned missions to Mars). He believes that to truly expand the limits of what is doable you must be prepared to accept the occasional failure. I tend to agree with him, but there still has to be a reasonable chance of success. There has to be more triumphs than tragedies.

If this mini-sub is to be launched then there will have to be years of tests first. The concept must be proven viable so that there is a good chance of success. At the moment we don't know for sure how thick the surface ice of Europa is. It is suspected that there are thin spots in the ice where there would be a greater chance of being able to drill through and launch this sub, but they need to be proven and mapped. There is also the possibility that some of the surface of Europa is covered in ice "blades," jagged vicious ice structures which would destroy a vehicle attempting to land there. Again these need to be excluded or mapped.

Until an orbiter has thoroughly mapped the surface of Europa we can't even begin to plan for any landing there, mini-sub or no mini-sub.

Edited by Waspie_Dwarf, 13 June 2013 - 11:58 AM.
typos.

"Space is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-boggingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the street to the chemist, but that's just peanuts to space." - The Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams 1952 - 2001

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#15    kwin

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Posted 14 June 2013 - 03:41 AM

The cost of a submersible the size of two soda cans - millions
The support vehicle, research & travel costs - hundreds of millions
Seeing the 'bait' swallowed - priceless






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