View Full Version : Discussion: Jupiter is Buffeted by Solar Wind

2003-Jul-08, 10:08 PM
SUMMARY: Scientists have uncovered the workings of an invisible bubble of charged particles that surround Jupiter and interact with the solar wind. This bubble is called the magnetosphere and extends to a distance of 100 times the diameter of Jupiter itself. 14 months ago, two spacecraft: Galileo and Cassini took simultaneous readings of the giant planet's magnetosphere from different vantage points. Detailed results of their findings will be published in scientific journals in the next few days.

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2005-Oct-25, 09:20 AM
Would this magnetosphere pose a considerable risk to any manned missions to the Jovian system and make a viable habitat on one of the Galilean moons impossible?

Huevos Grandes
2005-Oct-25, 01:20 PM
Would this magnetosphere pose a considerable risk to any manned missions to the Jovian system and make a viable habitat on one of the Galilean moons impossible?

I would say so. It poses yet another major engineering challenge to any larger-scale mission to Jupiter, whether it be manned or not. I hadn't heard of any assertion to build a habitat on the moon(s) of Jupiter. It will be impressive if such a thing is built on Mars or the Moon within my lifetime- something that seems unlikely now, given the current exponentially-rising debt of the United States and the incompetence of NASA.

2005-Oct-25, 03:02 PM
Well, that's good to hear, and no, I wouldn't expect any manned missions to the Jupiter system this century, I'm thinking longer term than that, 23rd century perhaps, although one day I would hope it is possible, even if that unfortunately does not occur during my time. :(

2005-Oct-26, 09:40 PM
To protect a habitat on the moons of Jupiter against radiation it would be necessary to dig into the icy surface; a metre of ice would protect against almost all the radiation on such worlds.
Callisto is much further out than the other worlds, and would have much lower radiation levels; this world might be a good base for operations in the Jupiter system.
Ice covered shelters would be fairly straightforward to construct on Ganymede and Europa, but Io seems to have a rocky, igneous surface; so the radiation protection will neeed to be constructed from rock or regolith (perhaps in sandbags). Operations on Io might need to be predominantly carried out by radiation resistant robots
(at least until humans can be genetically engineered to have radiation resisitance, if such a thing is possible).

Ships operating in the Jupiter magnetopshere will need to have radiation shielding of some sort- probably best acheived by adding a layer of water or water ice on the outside of the ship.

Why would we want to go to Jupiter in the first place? I think gas giants in general will become sources of many valuable commodities, and Jupiter is the biggest and closest. Water for life support propellant and to produce oxygen for breathing, and hydrogen for fuel; the deuterium fraction of that hydrogen could be even more valuable for fusion, as would the helium3 expected in the atmosphere of that world.
Io has active volcanism so will have many elements on its surface that are diffucult to find elsewhere in the solar system; the rings of Jupiter represent a concentrated source of water already pulverised and ready for exploitation, while the magnetosphere itself can be used to generate almost limitless electrical energy.
Downsides to the Jupiter location include the aforementioned radiation, and the strong gravity field; lifting material for export out of Jupiter's gravity will make them quite expensive, although the magnetoelectric energy available will make this a little easier, and there are plenty of bodies in that volume of space to make gravity assisted manoevres.
But it might be the case that such smaller giants such as Saturn and Uranus, with smaller radiation fields and lower gravities, might be easier to exploit.