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Concept for a Human Mission to Callisto in the 2040s

22 May 2015, 22:00 UTC
Concept for a Human Mission to Callisto in the 2040s
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In 2003, NASA did a conceptual study on a Human Outer Planet Exploration (HOPE) mission to Jupiter’s moon Callisto in the 2040s time frame. Jupiter is orbited by the four large Galilean satellites - Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto. Callisto is the third largest moon in the Solar System and the second largest in the Jovian system. With a diameter of 4,821 km, Callisto is nearly as large as the planet Mercury. The surface gravity on Callisto is 1/8th of Earth’s. Callisto is also thought to harbour an ocean of liquid water deep beneath its icy surface.Figure 1: Artist’s impression of a base on the surface of Callisto. Image credit: William Black.Figure 2: Artist’s impression of a base on the surface of Callisto. Image credit: William Black.The HOPE mission to Callisto consists of a crew of six astronauts. It employs a split-mission approach involving the use of three separate vehicles - cargo, tanker and crew. Nuclear electric propulsion (NEP) is the method of propulsion for the mission. Each vehicle has an NEP system propelled by magnetoplasmadynamic (MPD) thrusters using hydrogen as propellant. Before departing to Callisto, the cargo, tanker and crew vehicles are 242, 244, and 262 tons, respectively, for ...

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