Billionaire Yuri Milner considering funding mission to Enceladus


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Capitalism in space: Billionaire Yuri Milner, who already funds several astronomy projects aimed at interstellar travel, is now considering funding a planetary probe to the Saturn moon Enceladus.

At the moment all he is doing is holding workshops with scientists and engineers to see if such a mission can be done for an amount he can afford. Considering that Elon Musk’s first concept to send a private probe to Mars, before SpaceX existed, was stopped because of high launch costs, thus becoming the inspiration for SpaceX itself in order to lower those costs, Milner’s private effort might actually be affordable now.

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  • LocalFluff

    Oh, and while over there, flying through Enceladu’s plumes, fly through Titan’s and Saturn’s atmospheres too. Make Osiris-Rex type sample pickups from one of those milligravity moons inside of the ring system, like Pan. And of course, pick up some ring particles while flying a few feet above their quiet parade! Titan flyby’s pays most of the fuel bill while in the system.

    Cassini, Stardust, Hayabusa have demonstrated how to do all of this except the ring part, picking up small objects floating in a stream in weightlessness. That might need practice in LEO. Otherwise, when there are several samples to be taken without having to get trapped in any deep gravity well, then multiple should be taken. Mars2020 rover will collects dozens of samples, not only one single. And sending a few kilograms of different samples in a capsule with a heat shield and a parachute back to Earth doesn’t require much fuel.

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