Pioneer cover

From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.

Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.

The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.

He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.

Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at amazon, Barnes & Noble, all ebook vendors, or direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit. And if you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.

Juno science team proposes fly-bys of Jupiter’s moons

The Juno science team has proposed doing fly-bys of three of Jupiter’s moons, should NASA extend the mission beyond ’21.

Juno’s five-year primary mission phase ends in July 2021, and mission managers have proposed an extension that would continue operations until September 2025. The spacecraft’s additional orbits around Jupiter will bring Juno closer to the planet’s moons, allowing for a more diversified set of scientific targets.

…The moon flybys would begin in mid-2021 with an encounter with Ganymede, Jupiter’s largest moon, at a distance of roughly 600 miles (1,000 kilometers), according to Bolton.

After a series of distant passes, Juno would swoop just 200 miles (320 kilometers) above Europa in late 2022 for a high-speed flyby. Only NASA’s Galileo spacecraft, which ended its mission in 2003, has come closer to Europa.

There are two encounters with Jupiter’s volcanic moon Io planned in 2024 at distances of about 900 miles (1,500 kilometers), according to the flight plan presented by Bolton last month.

The extended mission would also allow scientists to get a better look at Jupiter’s north pole.

NASA will decide on the extension by the end of the year. From a cost and scientific perspective, it makes perfect sense to extend this mission for as long as possible. Compared to launching a new mission, extending an active one is far cheaper. It is also already in place.


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  • LocalFluff

    They give a good list of science purposes. I especially like studying Io more, the by far most interesting body in the Solar system, given that we forget the aliens hysteria. I think that collecting more data about Europa before the Europa Clipper is finalized is a strong argument for NASA.

    This repurposing of space probes, and telescopes, has become the standard,
    Budget committee:
    “- Okay okay, we will fund a mission to Europa (for example), but not a dime for anything else!”
    Then ten years later when the primary mission is nearing completion
    “- Oh, by some coincidence, we’ve just found out that our probe’s set of instruments, and its orbital mechanics, also happen to be very useful for studying Io…”

  • sippin_bourbon

    Cannot wait to see…

  • Lee Stevenson

    It’s a shame Juno doesn’t have more and better cameras… IIRC the camera it does carry was only added as an afterthought.
    The mission scientists are interested in the raw data from JUNOs other instruments, but I recall thinking before the launch.. “why the heck are you flying a Jupiter orbiter and not having ALSO the capability to take great photos?
    The pretty pictures not only give great science return, but also engage your tax payers ( and the rest of the world!) to give support to NASA.
    It is essential that a publicly funded project gives VISIBLE returns to the public, along with a spreadsheet full of gravitational permutations describing the solid hydrogen core of a distant star.
    ( I apply this reasoning to the ESA also, I know I don’t own a dog in this race regarding NASA)

  • LocalFluff

    @Lee Stevenson
    Because Juno’s science aims concerned Jupiter’s inner properties. The scientists concerned with that don’t care about a camera. A camera adds weight, consumes power, could disturb the real instruments and whatnot. The public could fill their bath tub, put drops of ink into it and pull the plug to see what Jupiter looks like.

    A bit exaggerated, but it’s as if you were going by car from Kansas to Oregon and I asked you to bring this sofa to my friend there. The scientists who finally got their key career mission funded don’t care much about me or my friend and don’t want to deal with the sofa. But my impression is that their science has been surprisingly confused by Jupiter, and that they at least can brag about having brought the sofa. Now looking for something else to turn their instruments on hoping to find something publishable that doesn’t undo their entire pre-Juno theoretical work about Jupiter.

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