Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Meanwhile at Europa, The Plot Thickens

 Divide and Conquer!
A concept for cutting JEO into two pieces brings an Europan Mission back towards the realm of the possible!

VK over at futureplanets reports on two mission proposals to Europa that were delivered to the recent OPAG meeting. The upshot is that by taking a page from the Mars Exploration Program, the outer planets folks have found that they can divide and conquer to explore. By cutting up the science goals and objectives of the US part of EJSM (known as JEO) into two missions - an Europan Orbiter and a Fly-by vehicle - it is possible to reduce the cost of the total missions by over $700 million. More importantly, it divides the program into much more manageable chunks, each of which costs less than $2 billion.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

2011 DPS Notebook

The large mechanical elephant of Nantes as photographed by wikimedia user dyhorus. Last week, planetary scientists from around the world gathered in the home city of Jules Verne. There we discussed our work and looked forward to the year ahead. In particular for us on this side of the pond, we got a look at a European community that is seeing more and more coordination of their activities and is resembling less an less a hodgepodge of individual moving parts.

This year I spent most of my DPS-chronicling energies over on Twitter. When this was combined with my poor adaptation to Central European Summer Time, the length of the sessions (which ran to 7PM every night) and a preference to use my late night hours in productive discussion with colleagues I did not get the opportunity to write much during the conference. I've finally arrived back home now and, as such, I present a minor information dump of my thoughts regarding the conference.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Another conference and more bad news looming

ESA's TGO - Last ditch negotiations are expected Monday in South Africa at the International Astronautical Congress to see if this mission can be saved.

As I was crossing the Atlantic, Universe Today was reporting some details about the negotiations between ESA and NASA with respect to the ESA Exo-Mars program. From the sound of the article, barring some last ditch maneuvering at this week's IAC meeting in South Africa, Trace Gas Orbiter could be nearing the end of the road.