Feeds

US funds Europa mission

ATTEMPT NO LANDINGS HERE … the money's just for planning

High performance access to file storage

A mission to explore Jovian moon Europa, considered one of the solar system's better candidates to host life thanks to its possession of a liquid water ocean, is now in NASA's sights after the US government last week signed off $US75m in funds to scope a future visit.

The money was allocated in the “Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2013’’ (PDF) passed by Congress last week.

The Act says the cash “... shall be for pre-formulation and/or formulation activities for a mission that meets the science goals outlined for the Jupiter Europa mission in the most recent planetary decadal survey”.

That study (another PDF) nominates a “Jupiter Europa Orbiter” (JEO) as the second-highest priority “large” mission for the years 2013-2022, behind the Mars Astrobiology ExplorerCacher (MAX-C), a $3.5bn attempt to send two rovers to Mars and recover samples for transport back to earth.

The JEO will be even more costly, at $4.7bn. Both it and MAX-C will need extra funding for NASA to get them off the ground. Indeed, the study says MAX-C should only proceed if its current budget can be trimmed by a billion dollars, while JEO will ascend “only if changes to both the mission design and the NASA planetary budget make it affordable without eliminating any other recommended missions.”

Which sounds rather grim given the USA's fiscal woes.

Better news can be found in the decadal survey's point that “The first step in understanding the potential of the outer solar system as an abode for life is a Europa mission with the goal of confirming the presence of an interior ocean, characterizing the satellite’s ice shell, and understanding its geological history.” Europa fans may also be cheering that MAX-C didn' get a mention in the appropriations bill.

NASA's not saying just what it plans to do with the $75m, but the decadal survey says the “key challenges” for JEO are “Radiation, mass, power [and] instruments” so it seems safe to presume the cash will help to address those issues. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Elon Musk's LEAKY THRUSTER gas stalls Space Station supply run
Helium seeps from Falcon 9 first stage, delays new legs for NASA robonaut
Solar-powered aircraft unveiled for round-the-world flight
It's going to be a slow and sleepy flight for the pilots
Russian deputy PM: 'We are coming to the Moon FOREVER'
Plans to annex Earth's satellite with permanent base by 2030
LOHAN's Punch and Judy show relaunches Thursday
Weather looking good for second pop at test flights
Saturn spotted spawning new FEMTO-MOON
Icy 'Peggy' looks to be leaving the outer rings
Discovery time for 200m WONDER MATERIALS shaved from 4 MILLENNIA... to 4 years
Alloy, Alloy: Boffins in speed-classification breakthrough
Curiosity finds not-very-Australian-shaped rock on Mars
File under 'messianic pastries' and move on, people
Top Secret US payload launched into space successfully
Clandestine NRO spacecraft sets off on its unknown mission
Get your MOON GEAR: Auction to feature Space Race memorabilia
Keepsakes from early NASA, Soviet programs up for bids
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
HP ArcSight ESM solution helps Finansbank
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.