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A Submarine for Europa

Posted: Sat Sep 08, 2007 6:09 pm
by Walden2
A Submarine for Europa

Many planetary scientists believe that Jupiter’s moon Europa is our solar
system’s best contender to share Earth’s distinction of harboring life.
Evidence gathered by the Voyager and Galileo spacecrafts suggests Europa
contains a deep, possibly warm ocean of salty water under an outer shell of
fissured ice. In a paper published in the July 2007 Journal of Aerospace
Engineering a British mechanical engineer proposes sending a submarine to
explore Europa’s oceans.

Carl T. F. Ross, a professor at the University of Portsmouth in England
offers an abstract design of an underwater craft built of a metal matrix
composite. He also provides suggestions for suitable power supplies,
communication techniques and propulsion systems for such a vessel in his
paper, “Conceptual Design of a Submarine to Explore Europa’s Oceans.”

Full article here: ... or-europa/

Posted: Sat Sep 08, 2007 6:56 pm
by Windwalker
This is so reminiscent of Jules Verne's Nautilus, both concretely and conceptually. In fact, that's probably what they should name the vessel if it is constructed.

On the scientific side, there are at least two important considerations. One is that the heat generated by the submarine itself or its drilling apparatus might heat-denature Europan lifeforms. The second is that it might shred them, as similar drills used to do with very fragile jellyfish-like terrestrial organisms.

Caveats asides, the prospect is immensely exciting. A second life sample would bring about revolutionary changes in biology.

Posted: Mon Dec 17, 2007 1:50 am
by Walden2
Return To Europa: A Closer Look Is Possible

December 13, 2007

Jupiter’s moon Europa is just as far away as ever, but new research is bringing scientists closer to being able to explore its tantalizing ice-covered ocean and determine its potential for harboring life.

“We’ve learned a lot about Europa in the past few years,” says William McKinnon, professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, Mo.

“Before we were almost sure that there was an ocean, but now the scientific community has come to a consensus that there most certainly is an ocean. We’re ready to take the next step and explore that ocean and the ice shell that overlays it. We have a number of new discoveries and techniques that can help us do that.”

McKinnon is discussing some of these recent findings and new opportunities for exploring Europa in a news briefing today at the meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco. He is joined by colleagues Donald Blankenship, research scientist at the Institute for Geophysics at the University of Texas at Austin’s Jackson School of Geosciences, and Peter Doran, associate professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Illinois at Chicago.

Full article here: