NASA Proposes Jupiter Icy Moons Orbiter Mission

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As part of its 2004 fiscal year budget which NASA unveiled today, is a proposed new mission to three of Jupiters moons, Callisto, Ganymede and Europa within the decade. As first reported on SpaceRef, this new mission, called the Jupiter Icy Moons Orbiter, will be using a new nuclear fision reactor.

The reactor will be built as part of an ongoing project called Project Prometheus. Prometheus is now a $3 billion project over 5 years and builds upon the Nuclear Systems Initiative first introduced in last years budget. Today's request from NASA includes $279 million for this new initiative. This consists of $186 million ($1 billion over five-years) from the Nuclear Systems Initiative and adds $93 million ($2 billion over five-years) for the first flight to Jupiter.

NASA believes that nuclear technology will enable unprecedented science data return through high power science instruments and advanced communications technology.

The Jupiter Icy Moon Orbiter will search for evidence of global subsurface oceans which may harbor organic material.

NASA hopes that this mission will open the rest of the outer solar system to detailed exploration.

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