Raumfahrt - Russland will ein Landegerät zu Sonnensystem größten Mond Ganymed senden



After years of pressure from Congress and the scientific community, NASA has finally begun formal mission planning to send both an orbiter, possibly launching as early as 2023, and a follow-up lander mission to the Jovian moon Europa. But the US space agency may not be alone in sending probes Jupiter's moons. Russia now says it is going to Ganymede.

In a promotional video uploaded to YouTube, engineers from the Russian space agency, Roscosmos, discuss a proposed orbiter and lander mission to the largest moon in the solar system. Specific dates are not discussed for this "Laplace-P" concept, but the Russians have previously targeted a launch date of 2023, and the video suggests a launch could come in the next decade. Although the commentary is in Russian, the video appears to suggest that Ganymede may be as good a candidate (or better) for life than Europa. Both moons are believed to have large subsurface oceans, but NASA scientists generally believe that Europa's large ocean, which is relatively near the surface and has a rich internal heat source, is likely more conducive to life.

Despite the video, it is not clear how "real" the Laplace-P mission actually is. For example, Russia has talked repeatedly about building a permanent lunar base in the 2030s, but the country hasn't made much progress toward that goal. Moreover, the Russian agency's planetary exploration program has somewhat been in state of a shambles in recent decades.

Whereas NASA has explored the Solar System from Mercury to Pluto and beyond, Russia has not had a successful interplanetary mission in more than three decades—since 1984’s launch of Vega 2, a probe to Venus and Halley’s Comet. Russia has also never successfully sent a probe beyond the Martian system, to Jupiter or elsewhere.

At the same time, landing on Europa or Ganymede represents a step up in difficulty from landing on Mars, as NASA did with the Curiosity probe in 2012. The Jupiter system is congested with many moons, and any spacecraft traveling there must contend with a much more harsh radiation environment and greater distance from Earth. So while a Ganymede lander would be cool as could be, it remains a largely speculative venture at this time.

Quelle: arstechnica

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