Two stories, one of science & one of Sci-fi about the planet Jupiter from the good peeps at Blastr.
NASA reveals: We’re going to Jupiter!
The way things have been going lately over at NASA, it often seems like we’d be lucky just to see another moon mission before we all die. But some NASA researchers are still aiming high, beyond our own moon and beyond even Mars. That’s right; it’s time to land something on Jupiter’s moon, Europa.
Researchers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) are working on a concept for a mission that would send two identical landers (in case one breaks down) to Europa to find out just how inhabitable the moon might be. Though we’ve spent a lot of time trying to determine whether Mars once supported life (or still does), some researchers see Europa—and the possible liquid water lurking beneath its surface—as the best bet in our solar system for life beyond Earth.
“Europa, I think, is the premier place to go for extant life,” said Kevin Hand of the JPL. “Europa really does give us this opportunity to look for living life in the ocean that is there today, and has been there for much of the history of the solar system.”
Each of the robotic landers would weigh just over 700 pounds and be decked out with equipment including seismometers, cameras and mass spectrometers to detect organic chemicals on Europa, if they’re there. Because of the constant flow of powerful radiation hitting Europa courtesy of Jupiter—and because fitting the landers with radiation shields is expensive and makes the journey more difficult—each robot would have a working lifespan of about seven days.
Hand stressed that if the mission gets off the ground—and it’s really only a conceptual thing at the moment—it would only be for “habitability” purposes. It’s about discovering if a support system for any kind of life could exist on Europa, not about proving that life is or was there.
The cost of the mission could come in at anywhere between $800 million and $2 billion, making it cheaper than NASA’s other potential Jupiter Europa Orbiter mission, which would cost about $4.7 billion and wouldn’t actually land anything on the moon’s surface. If the landers go from concept to reality, they would launch sometime in 2020 and reach Europa for landing around 2026.
So, if we make it to Jupiter (or rather, one of its moons), what might we find?
The Wachowskis want Natalie Portman for their next sci-fi epic
Andy and Lana Wachowski haven’t made a film based on their own original material since Matrix Revolutions in 2003, so we’ve been keen to find out anything we can about their next flick, the mysterious Jupiter Ascending. We still don’t know what it’s about, but at least we know who the Wachowskis want to star: their V for Vendetta collaborator Natalie Portman.
The Wachowskis just wrapped on their adaptation of David Mitchell’s sci-fi/historical epic Cloud Atlas, and they’re looking to get rolling on Jupiter Ascending by this fall. That means casting needs to happen soon, and 24 Frames has heard that Portman is at the top of the list.
If she takes the part, Jupiter Ascending would be the first major project Portman has taken on since 2010. Her only 2011 releases—No Strings Attached, Your Highness andThor—were films she made before she was pregnant with her son. She was five months pregnant when she picked up the Best Actress Oscar last year for Black Swan, so she opted for time with her baby over using her Oscar momentum to pick up another major project, even turning down a role in Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity that Sandra Bullock ended up landing.
According to 24 Frames’ source, Portman is “seriously weighing taking the part.” We don’t know what “the part” is yet, since the Wachowskis continue to keep the project under very tight wraps, but if she takes it, it could be a major relaunch for the actress. The only other things on her plate right now are a documentary about veganism and a return to Marvel’s Thor 2, but neither of those offer starring roles. After a year out of the spotlight, Jupiter Ascending could the Black Swan followup we’ve all been waiting for from Natalie Portman.
(24 Frames via Collider)