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New Scientific Discoveries, Part Drei

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NASA has chosen four new mission proposals for funding. An orbiter and atmospheric probe for Venus. Two missions total. And orbiter for Io and an Orbiter for Triton. 

Venus of course is interesting because it is close, earth sized and only slightly less than earth gravity. Aerostat science has a possible future in the clouds above Venus before you get so far down into the hellish temperatures and pressures of the surface. 

Io is sort of interesting I guess. It is not just the most volcanicly active moon in the solar system, it is the most active of any body other than Earth. 

Triton though? It's only interesting feature is the age of it's surface. Neptune does not have the gravity to cause tectonic convection that would generate heat. It does not have the magnetic field of Jupiter or Saturn for it's radiation belts are minimal. IF Triton has water or an atmosphere it  will be frozen solid. It's too far from the sun and Neptune has nothing to help it. Plus it's orbit it retrograde and the moon is doomed. Eventually it will either collide with Neptune or, more likely, break up and form a ring. 

IMO planetary science right now should for focused on Titan, Europa, & Encaledus. 

 

https://www.cnn.com/2020/02/14/world/nasa-discovery-program-mission-proposals-scn/index.html

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I am surprised there are not more missions for Europa, It seems like most hospitable place in our system except from Earth

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1 hour ago, Chilloutman said:

I am surprised there are not more missions for Europa, It seems like most hospitable place in our system except from Earth

There are two actually. One is unnamed and scheduled for a 2028 launch. That one will include a rover or, possibly, a submersible. To prepare to that is the Europa Clipper launching in 2025:  https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/missions/europa-clipper/

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Triton is probably being visited because it's an (well, thought to be an) accessible captured Plutoid/ dwarf planet/ planetoid or whatever they're calling them today; most of which have weird orbits that make getting to them difficult, and are small which makes slowing a space craft down to get into orbit or even drop a payload (without the payload splattering on impact) very difficult too. Triton is relatively easy to get to via Neptune which has been visited before multiple times before. It's an odd choice if you're looking for life, but as it certainly isn't a 'typical' moon it is of fundamental interest.

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2 hours ago, Zoraptor said:

Triton is probably being visited because it's an (well, thought to be an) accessible captured Plutoid/ dwarf planet/ planetoid or whatever they're calling them today; most of which have weird orbits that make getting to them difficult, and are small which makes slowing a space craft down to get into orbit or even drop a payload (without the payload splattering on impact) very difficult too. Triton is relatively easy to get to via Neptune which has been visited before multiple times before. It's an odd choice if you're looking for life, but as it certainly isn't a 'typical' moon it is of fundamental interest.

There is that. Everyone agrees it was a captured Kuiper Belt object. Still, of all the moons to throw money at I figured Uranus with it's huge collection would be a more tempting target. It gets 40% more sunlight than Neptune. Both ice giants have only been visited by Voyager 2. And that was a fly by. An orbiter around Uranus would be more interesting I'd think. Not that planet itself. It's just a big ball of frozen helium, hydrogen, and other misc gasses. But the moons might be really interesting. Most of the Voyager images were poor. Miranda and Ariel were the only ones the probe got a good look at. Ariel looks a lot like Europa and Encaledus


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On 2/16/2020 at 2:47 PM, Guard Dog said:

IMO planetary science right now should for focused on Titan, Europa, & Encaledus.

Yes indeed. 100% agree. I especially like the odds of a great find on Enceladus. I think Ganymede could also be useful to study.

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