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3

This is a late answer, but ... Budget wise I believe the missions would cost the same as that of Mars. You have grossly underestimated the cost of a Europa lander. The increased delta V needed to get to and land on Europa alone vastly increase the cost of a lander mission to Europa compared to a lander mission to Mars. The enhanced radiation protection ...


2

There are a number of issues that I can envisage. Chemical reaction rates can be temperature dependent: the colder the temperature the slower the rate of reactions. This applies to life forms. The cold temperatures on Mars could result in microbes having a slower "metabolism" and the rate of perchlorate consumption could be slower than envisaged. ...


17

No, it is not possible to make it 100% sterile. Especially if you consider self-replication as only requirement to classify something as life (It's complicated. See obligatory xkcd reference) Few issues to consider: In addition to other answer, one would likely use chips and PCBs in your spacecraft. Those are usually manufactured outside Space agencies, and ...


8

The motive for the exploration of Enceladus and Europa is different from that of Mars. The primary motive for exploration of the two moons is the possibility of finding an independent instance of life, while the exploration of Mars also includes gathering information for likely future human colonization. Of the three worlds, Enceladus is the most ...


26

Absolute 100% sterilization is impossible. There's always a tiny chance that some microbe lands on a component during manufacturing, gets entombed inside the packaging, and therefore is unreachable by sterilization. Getting such a microbe out to the environment would require breaking the spacecraft in a very peculiar way, without incinerating or damaging ...


23

@GremlinWrangler's answer sums up several important points; Getting a low mass rover from Earth all the way to landing on the surface of one of those Moons requires much much more rocketry (delta-v) than landing a much heavier and more capable/diverse probe on the surface of Mars. Solar won't work well there and RTG's are quite scarce Let's also consider ...


31

There are probably many answers, but for guesstimating hypothetical missions a look at delta-V/subway maps like this are highly informative in terms of problem scale. Working from that getting into LEO is 9.4 km/s, these are the rockets you see launching regularly, and can get about 5% of their launch mass into orbit. Earth escape needs another 3.41 km/s, ...


6

Yes, and you've answered the question in your question! As you note, the FAA regulates launch and reentry for US-based operations. As part of this regulation, the FAA sends around applications to the U.S. Government interagency for comment before approval. One of the questions they ask is whether there are any planetary protection issues with the proposal....


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