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The best way to explore a new world is to land on it(1)

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In the spring of 2020, an important andrare celestial alignment began with the conjunction of Pluto and Jupiter.

The best way to explore a new world is to land on it. That's why humans have sent spacecraft to the Moon, Venus, Mars, Saturn's moon, Titan, and more.

But there are a few places in the solar system we will never understand as well as we'd like. One of them is Jupiter.

*Super moon in Athens.

*An almost full SnowMoon sets beside the Statue of Liberty before sunrise in New York City.

What would happen if humans tried to land onJupiter

Gene Kim and Jessica Orwig

 Feb 26, 2018, 11:49 PM

A special thanks to Kunio Sayanagi atHampton University, for his help with thisvideo.

The best way to explore a new world is toland on it. That's why humans have sent spacecraft to the Moon, Venus, Mars,Saturn's moon, Titan, and more.

But there are a few places in the solarsystem we will never understand as well as we'd like. One of them is Jupiter.

Jupiter is made of mostly hydrogen andhelium gas. So, trying to land on it would be like trying to land on a cloudhere on Earth. There's no outer crust to break your fall on Jupiter. Just anendless stretch of atmosphere.

The big question, then, is: Could you fallthrough one end of Jupiter and out the other? It turns out, you wouldn'teven make it halfway. Here’s what would happen if you tried to land on Jupiter.

*It's important to note that we feature theLunar Lander for the first half of the descent. In reality, the Lunar Lander isrelatively delicate compared to, say, NASA's Orion spacecraft. Therefore, theLunar Lander would not be used for a mission to land on any world that containsan atmosphere, including Jupiter. However, any spacecraft, no matter howrobust, would not survive for long in Jupiter, so the Lunar Lander is as goodof a choice as any for this hypothetical scenario. 

First things first, Jupiter's atmospherehas no oxygen. So make sure you bring plenty with you to breathe. The nextproblem is the scorching temperatures. So pack an air conditioner. Now, you'reready for a journey of epic proportions.

For scale, here's how many Earths you couldstack from Jupiter's center. As you enter the top of the atmosphere, you're betraveling at 110,000 mphunder the pull of Jupiter's gravity.

But brace yourself. You'll quickly hit thedenser atmosphere below, which will hit you like a wall. It won't beenough to stop you, though.

After about 3 minutes you'll reach thecloud tops 155 miles down. Here, you'll experience the full brunt of Jupiter'srotation. Jupiter is the fastest rotating planet in our solar system. One daylasts about 9.5 Earth hours. This creates powerful winds that can whip aroundthe planet at more than 300 mph.

About 75 miles below the clouds, you reachthe limit of human exploration. The Galileo probe made it this far when it doveinto Jupiter's atmosphere in 1995. It only lasted 58 minutes before losingcontact and was eventually destroyed by the crushing pressures.

Down here, the pressure is nearly 100 timeswhat it is at Earth's surface.  And you won't be able to see anything, soyou'll have to rely on instruments to explore your surroundings.

By 430 miles down, the pressure is 1,150times higher. You might survive down here if you were in a spacecraft builtlike the Triestesubmarine — the deepest diving submarine on Earth. Any deeper and the pressureand temperature will be too great for a spacecraft to endure.

However, let's say you could find a way todescend even farther. You will uncover some of Jupiter’s grandestmysteries.But, sadly, you'll have no way to tell anyone. Jupiter's deepatmosphere absorbs radio waves, so you'll be shut off from the outside world—unable to communicate.

Once you've reached 2,500 miles down, thetemperature is 6,100 ºF.  That's hot enough to melt tungsten, the metalwith the highest melting point in the Universe. At this point, you willhave been falling for at least 12 hours. And you won't even be halfway through.

At 13,000 miles down, you reach Jupiter'sinnermost layer. Here the pressure is 2 million times stronger than at Earth'ssurface. And the temperature is hotter than the surface of the sun. Theseconditions are so extreme they change the chemistry of the hydrogen around you.Hydrogen molecules are forced so close together that their electrons breaklose, forming an unusual substance called metallic hydrogen. Metallic hydrogenis highly reflective. So, if you tried using lights to see down here it wouldbe impossible.

And it's as dense as a rock. So, as youtravel deeper, the buoyancy force from the metallic hydrogen counteractsgravity's downward pull.  Eventually, that buoyancy will shoot you back upuntil gravity pulls you back down, sort of like a yo-yo. And when those twoforces equal, you'll be left free-floating in mid-Jupiter, unable to move up ordown, and no way to escape!

Suffice it say, trying to land on Jupiteris a bad idea. We may never see what's beneath those majestic clouds. But wecan still study and admire this mysterious planet from afar.

NASA is hiring astronauts to go to the moon and Mars. Here's what candidates need on their resumes.


"Everyone's had a master's or had been a test pilot, so it made sense," she said.

The hiring process is long. The most promising applications go to a panel made up of current astronauts, who pick out the most qualified individuals. Astronauts know what the job entails, Dean said, and "they'll tell you that what's harder to see on paper is operational experience." 

That experience, in simple terms, is work in life-or-death situations. People who've been in the military tend to have it. Astronaut Kate Rubin's "operational experience," meanwhile, came from conducting research that helped create therapies for the Ebola virus.

After reference checks, approximately 120 people are invited to interview onsite. A smaller group gets invited back, and an even smaller group returns again for medical testing.

"We probably won't be able to announce until 2021," Dean said.

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