Europe To Humanity: It’s Time To Astro-Probe The Jovian System

Posted by on May 6, 2012 in Callisto, Europa, Europe, Ganymede, Jupiter | 1 comment

Forget mapquesting Ganymede! It looks like Europe will spend a billion euro’s in order to launch JUICE (which stands for JUpiter ICy moon Explorer) find out more about Jupiter’s lunar children two decades from now (2030 for those who want to know).

ESA plans to pack the solar-powered spacecraft with a suite of instruments, which will collect high-resolution pictures as well as data on the moons’ chemical compositions, magnetic environments, and surface features.

During its roughly three-year mission, JUICE will perform two flybys of Europa, examining that moon’s icy crust in search of sites for future exploration, perhaps by a lander.

Then, after a dozen flybys of Callisto, the spacecraft will slip into orbit around Ganymede in 2032 and will study Jupiter’s largest moon for nearly a year.

“The ice shells of Ganymede and Europa serve as a window to the oceans below,” Hand said. That’s because, as in the Arctic on Earth, the surface ice is most likely born from oceans below, and so will carry information about the liquid water’s chemical composition. (National Geographic)

JUICE will also observer the relationship Jupiter has with the three Jovian moons (Callisto, Europa and Ganymede) as well as analyze each world for subterranean oceans.

Unfortunately humanity will be unable to visit Europa due to Jupiter’s radiation belts, although JUICE could help us identify potential spots to establish outposts upon Callisto as well as Ganymede (the latter which could be used as the bread basket of the Jovian system thanks in part to it’s magnetic field).

While JUICE’s purpose is to help us discover alien life upon other worlds, it’s launch and Jovian encounter could help prepare our species for spreading terrestrial life upon Jupiter’s outer Galilean moons.

Video Hat tip: Spaceports

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ESA Astronaut Trials: And Then There Was Only 192 (Out Of 10,000)

Posted by on Sep 24, 2008 in Blog, Europe | 0 comments

(Image Credit: J-L.Atteleyn / ESA)

After previously declaring that the “old continent” was looking for a few good astronauts, it looks as if the ESA has sifted the 10,000 individuals who applied to be astronauts, and after many trials have reduced that number to a mere 192.

(ESA) Following a first stage of psychological testing, there are now only 192 highly talented individuals still in with a chance of becoming the new astronauts in ESA’s European Astronaut Corps.

This first stage of computer-based psychological testing finished at the end of August and consisted of tests to evaluate the cognitive capabilities of the candidates, such as tests of memory, psycho-motor test, multitasking, linguistic skills, and various forms of visualisation-based tasks. […]

Almost 10 000 people originally registered as astronaut candidates through the ESA website prior to the closing date of applications on 18 June 2008, of which 8413 fulfilled the initial application criteria. From these individuals 918 were chosen to take part in the first stage of psychological testing.

Despite the “small” number, the ESA plans on reducing the ranks again after a second round, with several more after to reduce the group of 192 to just four astronauts!

Hopefully the ESA will consider keeping the resume’s of the 192 (or at least 100 of them), as they are going to need more people if they are serious about conquering both the Moon and Mars.

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Good News! India And France To Militerize The Heavens

Posted by on Jul 5, 2008 in Blog, Europe, France, India, Space Weapons | 0 comments

After the Chinese conducted their anti-satellite test, the world has debated about whether or not nations should develop the final frontier with weapons included or for purely scientific/economic reasons.

Even though India has previously expressed its desire that space be developed peacefully, it looks as if they, along with France (hat tip: Space Pragmatism) are seriously considered on militerizing the heavens above us.

(Financial Times) Paris, which today takes over the EU presidency, says Europe must counter threats from conventional military powers as well as terrorism. To do so it needs to add a “political and security dimension” to European space policy, according to documents sent to EU governments ahead of a meeting later this month in French Guiana, home to the European launch pad.

“In Europe, space policy has always been motivated by scientific and technical reasons. The US, Russia, China and so on are motivated by politics. Even so, Europe is the second- or third-biggest space power in the world. Using political drive as well, it would be even more powerful,” said a European diplomat familiar with the plans.

(MSN India News) New Delhi: India needs to “optimise” the use of space for military applications to counter China’s rapid strides in the sphere, Indian Army chief Gen. Deepak Kapoor said on Monday. “We need to optimise the use of space for military applications,” Gen. Kapoor said at a seminar here on ‘Indian Military and Space’.

“China’s space programme is expanding at a exponentially rapid pace, both in its offensive and military content,” Kapoor added.

While conquer the final frontier in the name of science, business and “all that good stuff” sounds noble, the reality is that every country heading into space is going to have to ship their fleets as well (or at least defend their “aerial turf”), something both India and France have now realized.

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Europe: Human Space Flight Is Far From Dead

Posted by on Jun 30, 2008 in Blog, Europe, Space Race | 0 comments

After seeking out future candidates interested in becoming Europe’s next generation of astronauts, the European Space Agency has been swarmed with applications–a health sign that Europe’s quest for the stars is not only alive and well, but it is just warming up.

(Space Travel) At the close of the application phase which lasted a month, 8413 aspiring astronauts provided a medical certificate and finalised the online application form. This qualifies them for the next step in the selection process. […]

“We now have a large number of highly qualified applicants. I am confident that we will find the outstanding individuals we are looking for. This will be ensured by the next selection steps, starting with a first round of psychological testing,” said Michel Tognini, Head of the European Astronaut Centre. 

Most of the applications were from France and Germany, although to the article the vast majority of them were from men (note: where are all of the ladies?). This is a good sign for Europe, as having their own space program will help keep NASA and China competitive (and perhaps help ease tensions between the two as well).

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Video: Europe Getting Serious About Moon, Mars

Posted by on Jun 9, 2008 in Blog, Europe, Space Race, Video | 0 comments

Not content at watching NASA and China claim the stars for themselves, it looks as if the European Space Agency (or ESA) is seriously considering sending their own representatives to visit the surfaces of both the Moon and Mars.

(Video: ESA promoting both humans and robots for space missions. Credit: ESA)

While their recent attempts at recruiting astronauts is a start, the Europeans need to figure out a way of launching their own citizens into space.

If Europe is to inherit the vast wealth our solar system has to offer our planet, then they seriously need to consider adding humans to the equation lest they find themselves looking to the past for their glory, instead of the future.

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Europe Looking For A Few Good Lunar Astronauts

Posted by on May 10, 2008 in Blog, Europe | 0 comments

(Image: ESA astronaut Paolo Nespoli inside the Station’s Quest Airlock during the STS-120 mission to the International Space Station (ISS). Credits: NASA)

After previously pondering the worth of sending humans into space, Europe has recently decided that not only do they want to send people to the Moon, they want to recruit “fresh blood.”

(New Scientist Space) ESA hopes to inject some young blood into its astronaut corps. Currently Europe has only eight astronauts, with an average age of 50. The agency wants to recruit four more, ideally aged 27 to 37.

“If we have a Moon programme and if Europe commits to participating in that, I anticipate that one of those who we are selecting now will walk on the Moon,” says Gerhard Thiele, head of ESA’s astronaut corps. […]

The agency will target two key types of candidate. One is scientists and engineers; the other is pilots who fly sophisticated jet aircraft. Successful applicants must also have various personality traits, including high motivation and gregariousness.

The European Space Agency (or ESA) is accepting applications no earlier than May 19th. Qualified individuals can apply online, although their is no word on whether they will be accepting entries via snail mail (or even faxes).

Either way, this is a good sign for the ESA, although they need to find a way to launch their own astronauts into space, lest they become dependent upon NASA, Russia or China (which could affect their future in space).

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