Wednesday, April 9, 2008

More from the OPAG Spring Meeting

A few additional notes on the OPAG Spring Meeting Presentations:
  • Van Kane pointed out on that while the downselection between the Jupiter/Europa and Saturn/Titan mission will be later this year and instrument selection for the NASA component will occur in 2009 and 2010, ESA won't choose between the downselected Outer Planets Flagship mission, an X-Ray observatory, and a Gravitational Wave Observatory until 2011. Huh? Basically, when NASA and ESA decide between Titan and Europa in November, NASA will go ahead and get started on its component of the mission. According to Lebreton's presentation, ESA won't decide to commit to that mission until 2011, and it could even decide to do a different mission. Umm, yeah, something tells me that discrepancy won't last. For the Jupiter/Europa mission, this is less important since the two (or three) mission components would be launched separately. However, the two components of the Saturn/Titan mission would be launched together, with ESA's in situ probe piggy-backing on NASA's Titan orbiter. NASA, I doubt, would support such a mission architecture when ESA's involvement could still be pulled. This aspect of NASA and ESA's collaboration of this effort will need to be addressed before the JSDTs get too far in their study.
  • Lebreton, in his presentation, states that the Jupiter Planetary Orbiter, ESA's contribution to the Europa/Jupiter System Mission, would launch no earlier than 2018. If combined with JAXA's possible Jupiter Magnetospheric Orbiter, this would push its launch date to no earlier than 2020. The Europa Orbiter would launch no later than 2017.
  • In Ron Greeley's Europa/Jupiter mission presentation, the science goals for the Jupiter Magnetospheric Orbiter, appear to be pretty well defined. The presentation uses the name Jupiter Polar Orbiter for this probe.

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