Roscosmos and ESA have agreed to pursue missions aimed at returning soil samples from the south pole of the moon and landing a spacecraft on Jupiter’s moon Ganymede, according to a Roscosmos press statement.
The decision was made during a Dec. 19 meeting between Roscosmos Head Vladimir Popovkin and ESA Director-General Jean-Jacques Dordain. The space agency chiefs also discussed the potential involvement of Russia in the U.S.-European ExoMars program and collaboration in developing new launch vehicles.
Bold New Missions to Jupiter and Saturn Planned Space.com
NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) are pushing ahead with proposals to send ambitious missions to explore Jupiter, Saturn and the many moons that circle both planets, the two space agencies announced Wednesday.
“There is an ocean beneath the icy crust of Jupiterâ€™s moon Europa. Strange creatures could be swimming in these alien waters, but so far no missions have been sent there to investigate this possibility…”
“The Europa-Jupiter System Mission (EJSM) calls for one spacecraft to orbit Europa and another to orbit Ganymede, another large moon of Jupiter that also may have a liquid ocean locked beneath an icy outer layer.
“EJSM would be a joint mission of NASA and the European Space Agency, with ESA in charge of the Ganymede orbiter and NASA directing the Europa orbiter. Working together, the two spacecraft also would be able to conduct limited studies of the large moons Io and Callisto, as well as the planet Jupiter.”
After years of brilliant success studying the Red Planet, scientists and engineers working on NASA’s Mars exploration are getting their just desserts: deep cutbacks in their programs for the next four years.
NASA Administrator Mike Griffin announced last week that he was refocusing the agency’s exploration budget on the outer planets. RedOrbit.com reports that NASA is requesting around $343 million annually for Mars exploration for 2009-12, just over half the $620 million it had estimated just a year ago.
Griffin said the change was spurred by a recent National Research Council report which gave the agency an “A” for its Mars work and a “D” for its exploration of the outer worlds.
“After Mars Science Lab – the current planetary sciences flagship – we are now planning in earnest for an outer planets flagship to Europa, Titan or Ganymede,” Griffin told attendees at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in Houston last week.