Posted on Wednesday, November 27, 2013
By Kadri

Interplanetary Outpost by Erik Seedhouse

Rating: 9/10

Interplanetary Outpost takes the reader on a manned flight to Callisto, one of the Galilean Moons of Jupiter. Callisto is chosen from a list of other possible places to go that might become feasible in the middle of this century the earliest.

After the Moon and Mars there might not seem to be a natural place to go to next in the Solar system. Ofcourse one might want to start from the likely places where extraterrestrial life might be found, for example Titan or Europa,  but Callisto is chosen in part because it's the furthest Galilean Moon from Jupiter. Jupiter is a source  of radiation, and that combined with the threat of solar storms and cosmic radiation might just be too much for the engineers and scientist to deal with, as better radiation shielding would mean more weight for the spacecraft. Callisto is therefore the best choice and it is also far enough so that Jupiter doesn't influence it too much tidally, as it does the other Moons.

Despite the fact that Callisto is normally not considered to be as interesting as Saturn's moon Titan or Jupiter's Europa, then Callisto would make for a good base of operations in the Jovian system and it would then be possible to control submarine-robots on Europa for example, which would be technically difficult to do on Earth, as the time lag is too great.

Seedhouse describes some of the possible methods for getting there and is hopeful enough that maybe in 30 years chemical rockets won't be the only option for getting off the Earth. The hypothetical mission would take a crew of six to Callisto and back in five years.

As it is a long time for humanbeings to be in space, then it would require some technologies that are only now starting to be developed. For example as the trip there would take a long time, then being in zero-gravity environment would be too bad for the human crews health. The spacecraft would have to use artificial gravity - it should be rotating and because of that it would be rather big. For that reason the spacecraft could only be assembled in orbit around Earth or better yet - in one of the Lagrangian points. So there's already the necessity of having a space station there.

The other issue is the fact that the crew wouldn't really have much to do while en route, and hence it might be good to put the whole crew into hibernation for a large part of the trip there.  Unfortunately for the time being that kind of technology has not yet emerged that would enable the mission to do that. But there's still time until that!

You can also find out exactly what kind of trajectory the spacecraft would have to follow, what kind of rockets are feasible by that time and everything else one might be interested in when their sights are set on Callisto.

This book is another one of those that might inspire young people to find out more about space exploration and astronomy. Plus it might be really interesting to see whether or not the tentative guesses at what kind of technologies would be in use by 2045, will actually exist. Let's wait and see.

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