Now that I have written a piece on Jupiter’s sexiest moon, everyone else is jumping on the bandwagon. “Scientists” and “historians” and “people who are not completely self-absorbed” will argue that Galileo discovered Europa in 1610 and that, since then, people have talked about it as regularly as they can be bothered to talk about a Jovian moon. But really, must we give Mr. Galileo Galilei credit for everything? Sure, he championed heliocentrism and discovered Europa, but did he write about moving to Europa on a blogging platform? Did he even want to move to Europa? The answer to these questions, respectively, is “no” and “we can’t say for sure, but probably not.” Therefore, I think it’s safe to say that NASA spent last week trying to upstage me, not Galileo.
Yes, it’s true. Loathe to be outdone by a librarian with an English degree, NASA announced early last week that they had given the Europa Clipper mission permission to proceed to the design and construction phase. They also bragged that they were on target for launch in 2023 or 2025, though they failed to explain why a 2024 launch wasn’t on the table. The implication seems to be that not only will I not have made it to Europa by 2023 or 2025, I will not even be close to acquiring a spaceship and launching myself there. They may sound confident now, but there is an ongoing battle between Congress and the White House (blech) concerning which rocket should launch the Europa Clipper, and anyone who has had the misfortune to pay attention to American politics for even a single second over the last ten years or so knows that these kinds of disagreements can bring questions of a far lesser magnitude to a complete halt. I think it’s safe to say that I’ll have built both a regular house and a vacation home on Europa by the time the Clipper arrives, especially if I shoot for 2024.
Meanwhile, the European Space Agency (ESA) took the opportunity to boast about its orbiter JUICE, which should be named JUICY and is set to explore Europa and a whole bunch of other places that I have no interest in moving to. Not only is JUICE on target to launch in 2022 (take that, NASA), but its camera already took some pictures of Jupiter! Apparently the orbiter’s camera, NavCam, is a navigator/camera combo, which means it is imperative that it works. This requires testing, hence taking a picture of the Jovian system from Earth.
“Haha,” the ESA announced two days after NASA mentioned that they’re just now moving on to designing the Europa Clipper. “We have a camera and navigation system that works! Here’s Jupiter and a couple of its moons!”
I must admit that beating JUICE to Europa is going to be tough, as it requires me to trade in my Subaru for a spaceship and launch within the next two years. That said, I am very determined to move to Europa, and no amount of posturing by international space agencies is going to stop me.
There it is, your Europa news roundup. As Europa’s first resident, I can guarantee that I am dedicated to keeping you up to date on all of the latest Europa news.