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Welcome to the Objective Europa forum for general debate and discussions in areas related to a crewed mission to Jovian moon Europa. Suggestions and ideas in the forum will not be filed as part of the research in phase-I.

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Pages: 1
Author Topic: Europa mission considerations


Nimrodion
Europa Dreamer
Posts: 1
Europa mission considerations
on: September 22, 2013, 03:15

First of all, let me say that I have no formal scientific schooling. What follows is based solely on my logical approach to the overall mission architecture and years spent reading on and theorizing on the topic of advanced technologies and systems. As such, I cannot say just how those technologies of tomorrow will work. What I can do, however, is offer my opinion on how they will come together to make this project possible.

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The very first condition for this mission we have to consider is not of technical, but of the social kind - how committed are we as a civilization to sending Man to Europa? Will we have another "We Choose to go to the Moon" moment, which would push the execution of this project forward by decades, or will we remain in the current political climate, in which lawmakers can't even decide on whether or not to produce the most basic ingredient for deep-space exploration - Plutonium-238.

After that, we come to the next logical prerequisite to the manned mission to Europa - manned mission to Mars. To get to Mars we would have to tackle essentially the same problems we'd face in this project, if only on a slightly different magnitude. We'd use the same propulsion, power, life-support and communication systems. The same would apply for the launch vehicle design as well. And most importantly, we'd learn much about the effects of deep space and isolation on humans, and how to improve the selection and training of our crew to better prepare them for the challenges they'd face on this mission.

From this standpoint, it is my estimate that, given the correct political climate, the manned mission to Europa would be technologically possible as soon as 10 years after the first analogue manned mission to Mars. I say analogue because the scope of future manned Mars missions, whether to land humans or just have them enter the orbit, is still undecided, and the Europa mission will directly depend on technologies developed for and matured during manned Mars missions.

And then comes perhaps the most important consideration of these kinds of missions - morality. Many are comparing this mission to Columbus's crossing the Atlantic and setting foot on the New World. That paved the way for a new age of prosperity, as would our colonization of new planets do as well. But, we must never forget what happened to "life" that was already present in that New World before the Old one came: Be it from greed, over-exploitation or many diseases that Europeans brought with them - many local species were driven to extinction and human civilizations utterly destroyed. Now, that was an event on one planet, of two groups of single species (human), that had been separated for maximum several thousand years meeting together. Now, apply this on a galactic perspective where the last common ancestor of life on Earth and potential life on other worlds dates back a billion years to a simple organic molecule. If there is life on Mars or Europa, it would have developed so much differently that inter-contamination could lead to destruction of both worlds ecosystems.

Regardless of our technical prowess, we need to make sure that the missions we send to those far off worlds leave as small a human footprint as possible. And sending a manned mission, especially a one-way one, would require air-tight resource management to prevent accidental, or intentional, contamination by Terran organic matter.

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In the next part I will expand on this topic and offer my vision on the practical steps we'd have to take to realize this project.

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