Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Jupiter and Beyond

In a lovely example of life following art, NASA have announced they're sending a robotic probe to Jupiter.

Of course the last time they did that (in 2001: A Space Odyssey) it didn't work out so well. So this time it's just the robot. No humans in danger of getting trapped outside the pod-bay doors, then. Good thinking.

Although if some NASA geek programs it to sing Daisy when it gets there, I'll be very impressed.

Anyway the probe (disappointingly called Juno instead of HAL) will do all the usual things . . . you know, take pretty pictures and look for water.

Water? On Jupiter? What are they expecting? Oceans?

Jupiter doesn't actually have a surface in the sense that Earth does. It's just a whole bunch of swirling gas that gradually gets denser and denser until you reach a planetary core of rock or diamond (depending on whose science fiction you prefer).

Any water is just going to be vaporous wisps in the atmosphere.

Still, it's worth a look.

I just hope Juno swings by the moon Europa while it's there. Now that would be interesting.

I've got five bucks that says that's where we'll find our first example of extra-terrestrial life in the solar system.
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