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ESA's Science Director on What's Ahead...

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posted on Jan, 19 2005 @ 12:50 PM
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Interview with David Southwood
European Space Agency (ESA) Science Director on Saturn,Titan and what lies a.:


What we've done -- and it's really cutting our coat to suit our cloth -- is that our tight budget has forced us to try to do things in different ways and we've become fairly efficient. So from a technical approach, Mars Express was riding on Rosetta, and Venus Express rides on Mars Express. So there has been a burst of planetary activity which will continue for a little while, and then the agency will switch back for a few years to astronomy where again we'll use the same kind of synergistic approach.

That's really why I'm very anxious to see an Aurora* type program get going on the planetary side, so you don't get the swings-and-roundabouts approach where you're swinging from planets back to astronomy, which my program has to do because I can't simply declare that we're not going to do astronomy anymore. Nor do I feel one should. Planetary science without astronomical investigations of planets elsewhere, the chemistry of the formation of stars and planets, etcetera, doesn't make sense. Frankly, it's no use finding out we have life on Mars if we haven't a clue how it got there.

For me, the whole story begins with the Big Bang and so I'm really conscious of the fact that I've got to advance on multiple fronts. However, the only way I can do it efficiently is to allow the planetary people to take the centerstage for a few years, and then allow the astronomers to move to centerstage for awhile, then the planetary [focus] will come back. It's a frustrating aspect of the level of budget we have.

[*ESA established the Aurora program in 2001 as a key part of Europe's strategy for space, endorsed by the European Union Council of Research and the ESA Council. It calls for Europe to explore the solar system and the Universe, stimulate new technology, and inspire the young people of Europe to take a greater interest in science and technology.The primary objective of Aurora is to create, and then implement, a European long-term plan for the robotic and human exploration of the solar system, with Mars, the Moon and the asteroids as the most likely targets. ]

So when will this transition in focus take place?

We can see it coming. Venus Express launches this year and it will be the last planetary launch for some time, until Bepi-Colombo around 2010, 2011; whereas, we will have a whole series of astronomical launches --

* Herschel will be the largest space telescope of its kind when launched in 2007;

* Planck, which we hope to launch in the first quarter of 2007, will look back at the dawn of time, close to the Big Bang, and will observe the most ancient radiation in the Universe, known as the 'cosmic microwave background' to analyze it for clues about how clusters of galaxies and even individual galaxies formed;

* Corot, will be launched in early 2006, will be the first mission capable of detecting rocky planets, several times larger than Earth, around nearby stars;

* The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is the successor to the Hubble Space Telescope, and will be almost three times the size of Hubble, and should be launched well inside the decade; and

* Gaia, which will be developed on a similar time scale, will chart a three-dimensional map of our Galaxy, the Milky Way, to reveal the composition, formation and evolution of the Galaxy.

By the time Gaia gets launched, we'll be going back into solar system science I trust. But that will be 6, 7 years from now. If we get the go-a. for an Aurora program -- and I'm really absolutely convinced Europe has to do it -- we will then have a core activity of Martian exploration going on in a parallel with the astronomical exploration, and at the same time it will allow me to concentrate on non-Martian planets. You see, I believe that Mars is not the only planet. I do think that you've got to look at the other members of the family that maybe didn't turn out so well, as well as those that did.


planetary.org...

Wow, some mighty missions a., can't wait for Venus Expresssss


[edit on 19-1-2005 by Vajrayana]

[edit on 19-1-2005 by Vajrayana]




posted on Jan, 19 2005 @ 01:00 PM
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The thing that I dont understand is where is the Mission to Europa. I dont see any upcomming ones from either NASA or ESA. Europa likely has a liquid ocean and is IMHO the best chance for life in our solar system and nobody is in a rush to get under that ice.

Granted it will not be a easy mission but nothing worth doing ever is. Europa should be at the top of everyone list forget Titan,Mars,Venus . for Europa



posted on Jan, 19 2005 @ 02:01 PM
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Originally posted by ShadowXIX
The thing that I dont understand is where is the Mission to Europa. I dont see any upcomming ones from either NASA or ESA. Europa likely has a liquid ocean and is IMHO the best chance for life in our solar system and nobody is in a rush to get under that ice.

Granted it will not be a easy mission but nothing worth doing ever is. Europa should be at the top of everyone list forget Titan,Mars,Venus . for Europa


I agree with you ShadowXIX, unfortunately it looks like we'll have to wait for this proposed Prometheus One mission in

the mission would not launch before the middle of the next decade
2013-15?


What Is Prometheus One?
Scientific investigations conducted by NASA’s Galileo spacecraft provide strong evidence that three planet-sized moons of Jupiter -- Callisto, Ganymede and Europa -- may harbor vast saltwater oceans beneath their icy surfaces. These findings rank among the major scientific discoveries of the Space Age because liquid water is one of the three key ingredients for sustaining life, as we know it, on Earth. To investigate further these intriguing worlds, NASA is developing plans for an ambitious mission to orbit each of these moons for extensive investigations of their makeup, their history, and their potential for sustaining life. The proposed mission, called Prometheus One, would also raise NASA’s capability for space exploration to a revolutionary new level by pioneering the use of electric propulsion powered by a nuclear reactor. These technologies would not only make it possible to consider a mission to orbit three of the moons of Jupiter, one after the other at a very close range, but they would also open the rest of the outer solar system to detailed exploration in later missions.

Why are Jupiter's icy moons a priority for a major NASA program?
Exploring the universe and searching for life are central to the agency's mission. Jupiter's large icy moons appear to have three ingredients considered essential for life: water, energy, and organic chemicals. The evidence from Galileo suggests melted water on Europa has been in contact with the surface in geologically recent times and may still lie relatively close to the surface. The National Research Council completed a report in 2002 drawing on input from scores of planetary scientists to prioritize potential projects for exploring the solar system. It ranked a Europa orbiter proposal as top priority for a "flagship" mission, the highest of three cost categories considered. Prometheus One would fulfill the Europa science goals and also examine Callisto and Ganymede, providing comparisons helpful for understanding the evolution of all three.

What are the science goals of the Prometheus One mission?
Determine the interior structures of the icy moons of Jupiter in relation to the formation and history of the Jupiter system; Determine the evolution and present state of the Galilean satellite surfaces and subsurfaces, and the processes affecting them; Determine how the components of the Jovian system operate and interact, leading to the diverse and possibly habitable environments of the icy moons; Determine the habitability of Europa and the other icy moons of Jupiter.

solarsystem.nasa.gov...

I would think they would be a lil more anxious after Galileo's findings(or limited but intriguing for that matter).




[edit on 19-1-2005 by Vajrayana]


E_T

posted on Jan, 19 2005 @ 02:20 PM
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Originally posted by Vajrayana
I would think they would be a lil more anxious after Galileo's findings(or limited but intriguing for that matter).
Have you ever heard word budget?
Their budget isn't bottomless and is very small compared to that what is used to developing more effective ways of killing. (or what Warlord is using to his holy wars).

Some budgets for comparison:

www.globalsecurity.org...
www.globalsecurity.org...
www.nasa.gov... (www.nasa.gov...)



posted on Jan, 19 2005 @ 03:04 PM
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Vajrayana Thast interesting I was watching a show about Prometheus One last night and forgot that it was going by Europa. They said it was going to use a ion drive powered by a small nuclear reactor. They said the same people thet make the reactors for US nuclear subs would be making this mini reactor.

I can just imagine the outrage some people are going to have over this they protest NASA's use of plutonium batteries which are many times safer then any reactor.

I really wish NASA had a bigger budget thats something I would want my tax money going too. If NASA had a quater of the miltary budget I bet we would have people on Mars and robot subs on Europa right now.

[edit on 19-1-2005 by ShadowXIX]



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