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Human Missions to Europa and Titan - Why Not?This report describes a long-term development plan to enable human exploration of the outer solar system, with a focus on Europa and Titan. These are two of the most interesting moons of Jupiter and Saturn, respectively, because they are the places in the solar system with the greatest potential for harboring extraterrestrial life. Since human expeditions to these worlds are considered impossible with current capabilities, the proposal of a well-organized sequence of steps towards making this a reality was formulated. The proposed Development Plan, entitled Theseus, is the outcome of a recent multinational study by a group of students in the framework of the Master of Space Studies (MSS) 2004 course at the International Space University (ISU). The Theseus Program includes the necessary development strategies in key scientific and technological areas that are essential for identifying the requirements for the exploration of the outer planetary moons. Some of the topics that are analysed throughout the plan include: scientific observations at Europa and Titan, advanced propulsion and nuclear power systems, in-situ resource utilization, radiation mitigation techniques, closed life support systems, habitation for long-term spaceflight, and artificial gravity. In addition to the scientific and technological aspects of the Theseus Program, it was recognized that before any research and development work may begin, some level of program management must be established. Within this chapter, legal issues, national and international policy, motivation, organization and management, economic considerations, outreach, education, ethics, and social implications are all considered with respect to four possible future scenarios which enable human missions to the outer solar system. The final chapter of the report builds upon the foundations set by Theseus through a case study. This study illustrates how such accomplishments could influence a mission to Europa to search for evidence of life in its subsurface oceans. The future remains unpredictable, as does the realization of any of these possibilities. However, projects such as this remind us that the final frontier for humans is truly outer space, and only our imagination will determine where the frontier stops. We can dream of visiting other planetary systems and perhaps even galaxies, but we must begin closer, and considering the scope of our known universe, Europa and Titan are very close indeed.
Document ID
Document Type
(International Space Univ., Inc. France)
Date Acquired
September 7, 2013
Publication Date
April 1, 2004
Subject Category
Lunar And Planetary Science And Exploration
Funding Number(s)
Distribution Limits
Public Use Permitted.
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