Saturday, March 21, 2009

Europa Jupiter System Mission (EJSM)

    JEO : Jupiter Europa Orbiter

   JGO : Jupiter Ganymede Orbiter

Jupiter, the largest planet of our solar system has 63 moons. Jupiter along with its moons compose the Jovian system.Out of the 63 moons, the largest 4 moons i.e. Ganymede, Callisto, Io and Europa were discovered by Galileo and are known as Galilean moons.
Europa is the most likely place in the solar system beyond Earth to find life. It has more water than Earth. NASA has designed JEO (Jupiter Europa Orbiter) to study Europa. JEO will orbit Jupiter for 32 months and later move on to orbit Europa for a year.
Ganymede is the only moon in the solar system that has a magnetic field of its own. It is supposed to have water and ice. ESA(European Space Agency) has designed JGO(Jupiter Ganymede Orbiter) to study Ganymede. JGO will orbit Jupiter for 3 years and then move on to orbit Ganymede for 10 months.
The two orbiters will also monitor Io(to be studied by JEO) and Callisto(to be studied by JGO). JEO and JGO have been designed and developed separately. They will be operated separately as well.
But the satellites will be launched together in Feb 2020. The mission is named as Europa Jupiter System Mission or EJSM in short.

NASA web page on EJSM
NASA web page on JEO
NASA web page on JGO

Thursday, March 19, 2009

NASA's planned missions to Venus

NASA has formed a group of scientists and engineers to formulate goals for a series of space missions to Venus. The missions will be launched between 2020 and 2025 and will cost 3-4 billion USD. The team's study will be released in April.
The team's mission concept includes one orbiter, 2 balloons and 2 short-lived landers. Two Atlas V rockets will be used to launch the orbiter, balloons and landers.
The article from newscientist elaborates the mission goals in detail.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

India successfully tests BMD

Yesterday India has successfully tested the Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD). It was the third successful test of the BMD. Currently US, Russia and Israel are other countries who are developing capabilities in BMD.
The BMD system of India has been in development by ISRO. It is capable of successfully tracking and destroying hostile missiles both inside(endo) and outside(exo) the atmosphere. The BMD system will be developed in 2 phases. The first stage is targeted for 2000 km range. It is scheduled to be operational by 2011-2012. The second stage is to handle 5000 km range.
India's BMD is as capable as Israeli Arrow-2 BMD system and US Patriot system.
Basically in a BMD shield, radars are used to track a hostile missile. Based on inputs from the radars, interceptor missiles are launched to engage and destroy the hostile missiles. The interceptor used for the test is called Prithvi Air Defence (PAD II). The interceptor was a two-stage vehicle, with the first stage fuelled by liquid propellants and the second stage by solid propellants. It was 10 metres long and weighed 5.2 tonnes.The interceptor used for the first time a manoeuvrable warhead called gimballed directional warhead (GDW), which can rotate 360 degrees.

For details of India's BMW program, you can read the following articles
A really nice article on India's BMW program
Wikipedia page on Indian BMD
Wikipedia page on ABM (Anti Ballistic Missiles)