PDA

View Full Version : Really cool "cryobot" for Europa



John Kierein
2001-Dec-20, 12:37 PM
http://www.space.com/businesstechnology/technology/europa_life_011219-1.html

John Kierein
2001-Dec-20, 12:50 PM
The big problem I see with the "cryobot" is that it would probably immediately get swallowed by a Europan fish.

ToSeek
2001-Dec-20, 01:14 PM
On 2001-12-20 07:50, John Kierein wrote:
The big problem I see with the "cryobot" is that it would probably immediately get swallowed by a Europan fish.


Well, it should send back some really good data then, shouldn't it? /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_wink.gif

Mnemonia
2001-Dec-20, 02:09 PM
On 2001-12-20 07:50, John Kierein wrote:
The big problem I see with the "cryobot" is that it would probably immediately get swallowed by a Europan fish.


I've heard or read somewhere that melting your way through the ice is actually a very bad idea.

1) Obviously melted (and possibly very hot) water can corrode metals, though this is likely not to interfere with something as robust as a landing spacecraft. Any idea on what the salt content is in Europa's crust?

2) Liquid water can short electronics, should a breech ever occur. Not likely though.

3) Melting burns away any signs of life: live organisms or fossils. Wouldn't that be embaressing?

4) If you melt your way through you must combat boancy effects created by the surrounding water. As the ice melts it expands up into the shaft, and tries to push the cryobot back up. In order to negate this the bot may need an engine to force its way down, and that means more power, which means heavier and costlier.

5) Melted ice is very likely to refreeze. This could create an underground pocket of high pressure which could cause cracking along the shaft, which may disrupt the drilling process.

Sure the cryobot as it is sounds fast and "cool", but maybe one with a slow drill is safer and more science-worthy.

mallen
2001-Dec-21, 11:23 PM
On 2001-12-20 09:09, Mnemonia wrote:
I've heard or read somewhere that melting your way through the ice is actually a very bad idea.

1) Obviously melted (and possibly very hot) water can corrode metals, though this is likely not to interfere with something as robust as a landing spacecraft. Any idea on what the salt content is in Europa's crust?


Once you melted the ice into water, you wouldn't continue to heat it. So, the water temperature would be rather predictable at around 0 degrees Celsius.



4) [...] As the ice melts it expands up into the shaft, and tries to push the cryobot back up.


Water is denser than ice (which is why ice cubes float). Melting the ice into water would cause it to contract.



Sure the cryobot as it is sounds fast and "cool", but maybe one with a slow drill is safer and more science-worthy.


I would assume the biggest problem with melting your way through the ice would be the ENORMOUS amount of energy it would take.

Imagine you had a block about 1 foot on a side. Now, take your hair dryer and melt it.
How long and how much energy would that take?

The probe would possible have to melt through hundreds or thousands of feet of ice. You can't put that much energy in a battery.

- Mike Allen

Mnemonia
2001-Dec-26, 01:31 PM
On 2001-12-21 18:23, mallen wrote:
[quote]
Once you melted the ice into water, you wouldn't continue to heat it. So, the water temperature would be rather predictable at around 0 degrees Celsius.


A fair point. I'll give you that one.




Water is denser than ice (which is why ice cubes float). Melting the ice into water would cause it to contract.


The bot would certainly be denser and sink, water would be forced to move up to the shaft, in other words, the bot will be at the bottom of a pool. Expands was probably not the best of words there. I wonder what would happen if the water that floats up refreezes too quickly and traps the rear/top of the bot?



I would assume the biggest problem with melting your way through the ice would be the ENORMOUS amount of energy it would take.

Imagine you had a block about 1 foot on a side. Now, take your hair dryer and melt it.
How long and how much energy would that take?

The probe would possible have to melt through hundreds or thousands of feet of ice. You can't put that much energy in a battery.


It's supposedly nuclear powered, but your point remains. You can't melt the ice to just over 0 C AND do it quickly. It's either going to be very slow or some of that water is going to be very hot. At least with a drill the only ice you affect is directly ahead; heat transmits through the ice and can melt a rather uneven shaft.

mallen
2001-Dec-28, 02:18 AM
On 2001-12-26 08:31, Mnemonia wrote:

Expands was probably not the best of words there. I wonder what would happen if the water that floats up refreezes too quickly and traps the rear/top of the bot?


You could just give it a warm butt. /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif That would take care of the problem.




mallen wrote:
I would assume the biggest problem with melting your way through the ice would be the ENORMOUS amount of energy it would take.

Mnemonia wrote:

It's supposedly nuclear powered, but your point remains.


Just for fun, I ran some numbers:

Suppose we wanted to melt a hole 1 m^2 to a depth of 3 km. That would involve melting 3000 m^3 of ice or 3x10^9 g.

The surface temperature of Europa is -160 C, and if we assume that the temperature rises linearly with depth up to the melting point, we get an average temperature of -80 C which the probe will have to raise to 0 C and then melt.

Ice has a specific heat of 2 J/gC, so it would take (80 C)(3x10^9 g)(2 J/gC) = 4.8x10^11 J to raise the temperature of the ice to 0 C.

That amount of energy is small, however, compared to the latent heat of fusion (the energy it takes to melt the ice into water). The value for ice/water is 333 J/g, so the process would take (3x10^9 g)(333 J/g) = 1x10^12 J to melt the ice.

For reference, the Space Shuttle expends about 10^13 J on takeoff, so you would need 1/10 the energy used by the Shuttle. And that is if we assume that we are not going to lose any energy into the surrounding ice that we are not interested in melting.

On the other hand, if you simply took the ice and threw it into orbit around Europa, even that would take less energy than melting it. /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif

- Mike Allen

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: mallen on 2001-12-27 21:19 ]</font>

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: mallen on 2001-12-28 07:21 ]</font>

jkmccrann
2007-Aug-29, 12:48 PM
Does anyone know whatever happened to this Europa craft, supposedly it was supposed to be getting to Europa next year - I have a feeling it must have been much delayed or called off all together, anyone know what happened to it?



Europa already lies in the sights of engineers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California. They are working toward flying an orbiter in 2008 to circle the moon. This craft would carry radar gear to survey Europa’s fractured blanket of ice, gauging the thickness of the crust.


To me, this sounded like one of the most exciting missions since the Voyagers, seems a pity it has apparently dropped off the radio.

Might have a look for it.

jkmccrann
2007-Aug-29, 12:54 PM
The wonders of Wikipedia,

Europa Orbiter (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Europa Orbiter)

Europa Orbiter cancelled in 2002/03

JIMO (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/JIMO)

Its replacement, the JIMO (Jupiter Icy Moons Orbiter) cancelled in 2005 - even though it wasn't planned to be launched until 2017 at time of cancellation! So, even 12 years ahead of time they're cutting back and cancelling projects - disgraceful really.

These are exactly the type of missions that really create a lot of public interest, much more so than something like Chandra for instance. Anyway.

Only Jovian mission coming up we have to look forward to is now Juno. Well, at least there's something on the drawing board, although it doesn't seem as exciting as those that fell before it.

Nicolas
2007-Aug-29, 01:14 PM
Any mission named after a good synthesizer (http://www.reasonbanks.com/images/AM_Juno60.jpg) is a good mission ;).

I'd love to see a proper landing mission on/in Europa.

Saluki
2007-Aug-29, 02:12 PM
:Suppose we wanted to melt a hole 1 m^2 to a depth of 3 km. That would involve melting 3000 m^3 of ice or 3x10^9 g.

I realize this is a moot point since the mission has been cancelled, but my guess is that if we ever did send a probe to bore through Eurpa's ice, it would bore a much smaller hole. With progress in miniturization, I would think you could do the job with a hole on the order of a few (maybe 5) centimeters diameter.

This would reduce your energy requirements by 5 orders of magnitude. Still a hefty energy bill, but nothing like the numbers for a meter diameter hole.

Zachary
2007-Aug-29, 09:15 PM
Apart from ecological concerns what would be wrong with dropping a bomb on europa to make a fissure in the ice (I know there's no oxygen...but a nuke would do) and then dropping a probe in and going swimming?

antoniseb
2007-Aug-29, 09:34 PM
Apart from ecological concerns what would be wrong with dropping a bomb on europa to make a fissure in the ice (I know there's no oxygen...but a nuke would do) and then dropping a probe in and going swimming?

The nuke would contaminate the environment we intend to measure, *and* would probably not come close to getting all the way through the ice layer, which is thought to be several ten of kilometers thick, based on some craters on the surface.

mugaliens
2007-Aug-30, 09:09 AM
"The cryobot would melt its way through the super-cold surface using nuclear power, he said."

Uh-oh...

The anti-nuke folks are going have a field day with this one. This time about intentionally contaminating another world.

I can see the headlines now:

NASA intentionally crash-lands a nuclear reactor on Europa.

The entire under-ice life permanently contamined, possibly killed, by E3.

Etc.

Procyan
2007-Aug-30, 09:43 AM
Yeah but but ...they can't just funnel the money into Cowboys in Space at the expense of good science. Right? These projects will take a significant lead time. We'll be old. Or werse. Shouldn't we become a lobby or something? For the same investment you can either have a Phoenix on Europa or a 4 slice toaster on Moonlab 2021, know what I mean? How many of you don't believe in robots?

That ionizing radiation at the surface of Europa, Helium nuclei juiced up to MeV's. The flux is intense. 10 million RADs. Isn't there a way to harness that energy to melt ice? A flux capacitor is out of the question, but there must be a way, eh?

mugaliens
2007-Aug-30, 10:10 AM
My solution is, why melt through? Simply have an impact penetrator create a hole and just drop through the resulting slush. Any small meteor would do, and they're like a dime a dozen in our solar system.

Ok, ok - go ahead and sit there warming your buns on the ice if you must... But I can see it now - one burp and you'd be frozen in ice for a long time.

Procyan
2007-Aug-30, 10:32 AM
An impactor does sound better and the deep impact experiment worked a charm. Plus it would be fairly easy to collect samples lofted into space. Also, I keep wondering how frequently a melting event occurs. Has that been determined? If a significant surface area melted, then you would have liquid water exposed to very low pressure. What would happen? Would Europa suddenly develop a temporary water atmosphere until everything refroze? If that happened today I guess we wouldn't know, unless Hubble got onto it, right?

novaderrik
2007-Aug-31, 05:38 AM
i saw something a while back on tv or on the internet or somewhere where they were showing off some protoype Europa landers melting thru the ice in antarctica to get into the lakes under the glaciers.
it was kind of neat. the thing just kind of sank into the ice.
one thing i'm wondering, tho, is what happens to the water above the probe after it melts? does the probe just sink deeper into the ice, with the water freezing above it?
or does the water instantly boil off into space due to the lack of an atmosphere? this would leave a nice emtpy shaft until the probe got thru and the water below rushed in to fill it- probably spitting the probe right back out..

mugaliens
2007-Aug-31, 12:19 PM
one thing i'm wondering, tho, is what happens to the water above the probe after it melts? does the probe just sink deeper into the ice, with the water freezing above it?
or does the water instantly boil off into space due to the lack of an atmosphere? this would leave a nice emtpy shaft until the probe got thru and the water below rushed in to fill it- probably spitting the probe right back out..

No need to boil off the water, or even keep it all melted.

The distance in melted water beneath the probe will be measured in milimeters. But the distance above it could be several meters, until it refreezes, while the distance to the sides will be milimeters to less than a meter.

novaderrik
2007-Sep-01, 06:28 AM
yeah, but won't the melted water instantly boil off due to the lack of air pressure?
if it can happen on Mars, then why not Europa?
and, if so, what happens when the probe gets near the bottom of the ice, and the pressure from below shoots the probe into orbit before it gets to swim?
i'm sure they have thought of that- they are, after all, engineers paid to think of these things and i'm just an unemployed 32 year old high school dropout.
i should get my cousin's email address down at the Marshal Spaceflight center in Alabama and see if he's heard anything about this..

MentalAvenger
2007-Sep-02, 08:49 PM
Set up manufacturing plants on Europa. Also send a lot of vehicles, especially old busses from Mexico City and South America. The resultant Global Warming will do the rest.