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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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Author Topic: Orbiting outpost instead of surface outpost

Europa Dreamer
Posts: 1
Orbiting outpost instead of surface outpost
on: September 23, 2013, 07:39

Instead of landing directly and staying on Europa proper, one option would be to place a stationary space station at the L1 or L2 Jupiter/Europa Lagrangian points (or both). If my calculations are correct, L1 and L2 would be at about 13600 km from the centre of Europa, or about 12000 km from the surface, so fairly close. Because Europa is tidally locked with Jupiter, a station in L1 or L2 would always face the same side of Europa (L1 the Jupiter side, L2 the far side). This would facilitate communications with the surface. From the station, it would be easy to operate remotely robots on the surface. Flying between the station and the surface should be reasonably easy for either manned or unmanned exploration missions.
L1 would offer amazing views of Jupiter, which would be great if you're going to spend the rest of your life there. In L2, Jupiter would be totally blocked from view by Europa (if my calculations are accurate). Not so good for the views, but could it be beneficial in term of radiation doses?
Having an outpost directly on Europa's surface posses a lot of technical issues, and I would be especially concerned about the long term stability of the ice. Also, we will likely want to explore several locations all over the surface, and travelling between these locations might prove difficult. It seems more practical to have all the laboratory apparatus and all the amenities required for long term human survival in a space station. We then just sent humans or robots on the surface for short term exploration, and they bring back samples to the station for further analysis.
We already have experience with long term human occupation of space stations. We also know how to land and take off from a body with relatively weak gravity (Europa's is slightly weaker than the Moon's). It should be relatively easy to set up automated shuttles that would bring back from the surface unprocessed or processed water to provide the station with drinking water, rocket fuel, oxygen and radiation shielding. If we can ensure that the station is self-sufficient, I would not consider this a suicide mission, just a (very) long term mission. One can always imagine a possibility of return, many years down the line, even if it wasn't part of the initial mission design.

Europa Dreamer
Posts: 2
Re: Orbiting outpost instead of surface outpost
on: September 23, 2013, 22:21

I would not consider any mission that furthers human kinds understanding and prosperity to be suicidal. We must work for humanity if we are to progress, not for our individual selves. I would be more than willing to be blasted out to europa and be the first human being from earth to discover 'alien' life, which is pretty obviously there if you ask me.]

Europa Dreamer
Posts: 6
Re: Orbiting outpost instead of surface outpost
on: September 23, 2013, 23:28

Quote from cosmicjez on September 23, 2013, 22:21
We must work for humanity if we are to progress, not for our individual selves.]

I think that we should find balance between both. So if I understand correctly, you are willing to die of starvation? I would like to see Europa, and Jupiter, anyway only if its well planned mission. There's a difference between suicide and accident. Non should give up, there's always something more to do.

Europa Dreamer
Posts: 8
Re: Orbiting outpost instead of surface outpost
on: September 24, 2013, 17:53

I support the idea of a four year mission, in which one year is spent in transit, two years are spent at Europa, and one year is spent coming back, while another craft is heading to Europa in the same launch window, or is arriving at Europa.

Or, we can have robotic craft set up a base on the Europan Surface, and have the astronauts inhabit that base while exploring the moon with drones and rovers....

Europa Dreamer
Posts: 10
Re: Orbiting outpost instead of surface outpost
on: October 1, 2013, 03:24

I like the idea of an orbiting outpost. Instead of having a rocket based shuttle from outpost to surface, the outpost could unfurl a space elevator to the surface. While the idea of the space elevators has not become realistic on Earth, there are already groups that are studying the possibility of creating one on lower gravity objects like the moon. This could be a very efficient solution.

Europa Dreamer
Posts: 22
Re: Orbiting outpost instead of surface outpost
on: October 1, 2013, 03:35

Chris that is diffidently a idea to keep in mind the question is how big of a outpost do you build and where. maybe a shuttle to a large outpost in safer space and then a small hub about Europa to build the elevator down.

Europa Dreamer
Posts: 17
Re: Orbiting outpost instead of surface outpost
on: October 1, 2013, 20:14

The orbit of the space station could be calculated so that it would always keep Europa between it and Jupiter, significantly reducing radiation exposure on structure, as well as facilitating landings on the relatively safer side of Europa.

Europa Dreamer
Posts: 3
Re: Orbiting outpost instead of surface outpost
on: December 13, 2013, 20:06

I like the idea of a space station however I think it's important to have a permanent presence on the surface. Maybe it would be best to have an orbital station and if our technical abilities allow to build a space elevator from the station down to a small base station. Its important to have at least a small base on the surface incase an expedition from the station gets trapped or for whatever reason sending a shuttle for them is not an option.

Europa Astronaut
Posts: 98
Re: Orbiting outpost instead of surface outpost
on: March 12, 2014, 23:40

I'm not sure you can orient the station so that it gets no radiation. The radiation does not come straight out from Jupiter, but is orientated along it's magnetic belts.

Here's an article to help illustrate.

A mission would probably need to be under the ice to be safe.

Europa Dreamer
Posts: 4
Re: Orbiting outpost instead of surface outpost
on: May 3, 2014, 06:56

Any thoughts on the new Z-2 spacesuits by Nasa? Might have some real advantages to prevent the radiation. I think the radiation factor is the/one of the mlst daunting tasks to solve in this mission.

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