Europa Clipper Mission to Jupiter Gets $600M in NASA's 2020 Budget Request

An artist's depiction of the Europa Clipper mission, which would receive $600 million in the president's budget request for the fiscal year beginning in October 2019.

NASA's Europa Clipper mission could receive $600 million for the fiscal year that begins in October, according to budget request documents released Monday (March 11) by President Donald Trump's administration.

Those documents also suggest that NASA will look to launch the spacecraft on a commercial rocket, rather than on a government rocket, which the administration states would save more than $700 million.

The Europa Clipper mission is scheduled to launch in 2023 and will explore Europa, one of Jupiter's icy moons and one of scientists' top contenders for a spot to find life beyond Earth. Researchers believe the moon hides a global liquid ocean beneath its icy shell; if the rocky surface below that ocean is geologically active , it could tick all the boxes that life seems to require. (That does not mean life is definitely there to be found.) The Europa Clipper mission is designed to investigate whether those requirements are present.

 

The funding news comes in the wake of a NASA decision to remove one of the previously approved instruments from the spacecraft, a magnetometer called Interior Characterization of Europa Using Magnetometry (ICEMAG). NASA cited cost concerns as its motivation and noted that it would look for a new, simpler magnetometer to fly on the probe. 

Such an instrument would be crucial for confirming that Europa features a global liquid ocean, characterizing that water and measuring the thickness of the ice shell above it. The spacecraft design is currently undergoing its final review and is not yet being built.

The budget request may address one of the team's lingering uncertainties in planning the mission: what rocket NASA would use to launch the probe. The mission requires the heft of either a SpaceX Falcon Heavy , which has flown once, or NASA's Space Launch System, SLS , which has never flown. Rocket choice will affect both the project's budget and its mission schedule: Riding by SLS, the probe would arrive within about three years; by Falcon Heavy, it would get there within five or six years.

The Europa Clipper funding is part of a $2.6 billion budget request for planetary science . These documents represent only what NASA and the Trump administration would like to prioritize and accomplish in the coming year; actual budgets must be determined by Congress.

Akshay and Action are Kesari 's strengths

'Kesari devotes a significant chunk of its script to brandish Akshay's might as the dauntless, magnanimous, Sardar, Havildar Ishar Singh.'
'To his credit, the actor is a picture of restraint and righteousness as the worldly-wise Sardar on a mission,' notes Sukanya Verma.

21 Sikh soldiers against 10,000 Afghan tribesman -- it's a staggering statistic and splendid premise for a full-bloodied action film.

A feat Kesari not only honours but delivers too if only you'll be patient.

The year is 1897 and the guidelines of a Bollywood historical insist on delaying the deed in favour of hackneyed subtext and tedious sentiment.

Shot against the picturesque backdrop of Spiti valley's majestic snowy mountains and craggy landscape, Kesari would be a lot more taut and short than its 150 minutes if its building up for battle revealed more strategy than shenanigans.

And so no matter how much uniformity it projects, this is, ultimately, an Akshay Kumar vehicle.

He even changes into a saffron turban in case you miss the point.

From his gallantry when he rescues an Afghani girl from getting executed, his wounded patriotism on being humiliated by the evil British officer, his team spirit as he takes charge of the 36 Sikh regiment at Saragarhi to his secular beliefs as he builds a mosque for the local tribesmen, Kesari devotes a significant chunk of its script to brandish Akshay's might as the dauntless, magnanimous, Sardar, Havildar Ishar Singh.

To his credit, the actor is a picture of restraint and righteousness as the worldly-wise Sardar on a mission.

Anurag Singh's fictionalised take on the Battle of Saragarhi, where a small group of Sikh soldiers in the British army laid their lives down while fighting an overwhelming enemy pays rich tribute to the Sikh community, their valour and religious dogmas.

As its most virtuous embodiment, Ishar Singh instructs the cook to offer water to the injured, whether one of their own or the enemy. But it is his almost spiritual outlook towards combat where the imprint of his teachings shows most favourably.

The cardboard adversary is on the other side of the extreme. If the British are toffee-nosed bosses getting their kicks out of demeaning the ghulam s, the Afghanis are one-note barbarians misusing religion to incite violence.

There is no middle ground in Singh's black and white shades of conflict.

Instead, customary scenes of comedy and romance squeeze their way in until Kesari can truly take off.

Parineeti Chopra, as Ishar Singh's wife, has imaginary gupshup s with him and has precious little to do. But his 20 other home-sick companions at Saragarhi receive just about enough attention for us to feel bad when they fall.

Once the battle gets rolling, Kesari jumps into high-octane mode. Though heavily outnumbered, the rifle-ready soldiers assume their positions to guard the fort swarmed by opponents.

They know how it's going to end. You know how it's going to end.

But the raw bravado at display, the high-pitched intensity and the relentless urgency of the events kept me on the edge of my seat.

Things get down and dirty by the end.
The carnage by the door, pile of corpses used to clamber atop, a wall scribbled in casualties, swords skewering man after man, the upshot is more bloody than kesari.
Rating: 3/5

Did IAF use a secret bomb at Balakot?

The IAF has insisted it hit its targets. If that is indeed true, then the lack of obvious damage could mean it has used a different bomb -- possibly procured secretly from Israel.
Ajai Shukla reports.

Army bomb experts said if the Indian Air Force had used SPICE 2000 precision-guided bombs to strike the Jaish-e-Mohammad camp in Balakot, Pakistan, on February 26, they would have utterly demolished any regular brick-and-mortar buildings they hit.

The IAF has insisted it hit its targets. If that is indeed true, then the lack of obvious damage could mean it has used a different bomb -- possibly procured secretly from Israel.

I spoke to army explosives experts to verify the IAF's claim, made anonymously to two national newspapers on March 7, that the four buildings they hit in Balakot seemed externally undamaged in satellite photos because the bombs they used contained 'only 70 to 80 kg of high explosive.'

This contention that 70 to 80 kg of explosive would spare the building is disputed by Major General Manik Sabherwal (retd), the army explosives expert who was called in to reconstruct the explosive devices that killed former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1991 and then Punjab chief minister Beant Singh in 1995.

"A bomb with 70 to 80 kg of military grade high explosive would destroy a two- or three-storey building. Its roof would be blown off, and most of its walls," General Sabherwal said.

Describing 70 to 80 kg as "a hell of a lot of explosive", General Sabherwal pointed out that an anti-tank mine, which can rip open the belly of a heavily armoured tank, weighs just 5 kg and a 155-millimetre artillery shell, which can bring down a building, contains just 12 to 15 kg of explosives.

There has been international scepticism over India's claims of having killed a 'a very large number' of terrorists in Balakot. The anonymous officials who briefed the Indian Express explain this by claiming that the bombs used against Balakot are so specialised that they only made a small hole in the roof.

IAF sources have also made another claim to explain why the Balakot camp buildings are still standing. They say SPICE 2000 munitions are 'bunker busting' weapons that explode only after penetrating the ground, diminishing their destructive power.

Rejecting this, General Sabherwal said: "A bomb's shock wave passes through solid medium like soil even more efficiently than through air. So if the bomb passed right through the building and exploded under it, that would create an even more disruptive shock wave that would disrupt the foundations of the building, bringing it down."

Describing the effect on a building, another army bomb expert who requests anonymity since he is still serving, assesses: "70 to 80 per cent of the building would collapse, with only a part of the outer walls standing. The rest would be rubble."

That again raises the question: did the IAF use a bomb with specialised effects, about which no details have been made public yet?

Air Marshal Nirdosh Tyagi, who headed the IAF's equipment acquisitions, says the acquisition of the SPICE 2000 started in 2007 and took two-to-three years of trials to finalise.

SPICE -- which is an acronym for Smart Precise Impact and Cost Effective -- is only a guidance kit that must be mated with a bomb, usually the Mark 84 bomb.

Before it is launched from an aircraft, the SPICE is loaded with the target's precise latitude and longitude coordinates, towards which it is guided by a navigation unit that takes inputs from Global Position System satellites and an on-board Inertial Navigation System.

As it approaches the target, a visual seeker switches on and, using 'scene matching software', homes in on the target, the photograph of which has been fed into the seeker before the mission.

Air Marshal Tyagi says, and this is corroborated on the website of Israeli company, Rafael, which supplies the SPICE 2000, that it can be launched from 60 km away from the target.

That would have required IAF Mirage 2000s fighters to ingress at least 20 km across the Line of Control before releasing their SPICE 2000 bombs towards Balakot.

But IAF sources have been emphatic that the Mirages did not cross the LoC.

Antarctica bombshell as ‘master PYRAMID' found on satellite image

EXPERTS believe they may have found an ancient pyramid hiding among the mountains in Antarctica.

An excerpt from History Channel show Ancient Aliens shows a satellite image of a pyramid-shaped object on the snowy plains of the South Pole.

It clearly has four sides and appears to rise up.

The potential pyramid was spotted by Joseph White near the Shackleton mountain range, sending conspiracy theorists and experts alike into meltdown

In the footage one theorist explains: “We should start looking at the possibility that there was habitation on Antarctica.

“Was it a lost civilisation? Could it be ancient astronauts?

"Maybe the earliest monuments for your own civilisations are originally from Antartica.”

Although many question how humans could build such a mammoth structure in the depths of frozen Antartica, author Michael Salla poses a slightly different theory about how those pyramids got there.

On the topic, he said: “There has been extensive research done on pyramids throughout the world, and one of the theories is that pyramids are power generators.”

Michael continues: “If you have these pyramids strategically places around the world generating this charge, it is possible to create a general standing wave around the world which is basically a wireless transmission of energy” – basically working like a sat-nav for space crafts.

It is suggested this “wireless energy system” would allow alien ships to navigate their way around the planet.

Using this theory, it makes sense there would be at least one pyramid in Antarctica in order to complete the system.

The frosty continent has long-been the subject of mystery by conspiracy theorists.

One particularly wacky theory is that Antarctica is the site of a secret Nazi base.

The Nazis infamously conducted a secret mission to the region in 1939.

But it has been widely speculated that they managed to build a base on the continent – and Adolf Hitler himself "escaped" there after World War Two.

There have also been other sightings of "pyramids", such as one found on Google Earth earlier this year.

And some conspiracists even claimed to have found remnants of an "ancient city" using the mapping software.

 

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