Mars No More? Trump Wants to Explore Jupiter’s Moon and the Solar System
President-elect Donald Trump might instead refocus all efforts on the exploration of the solar system and Jupiter's icy moon Europa.
During a campaign speech, Trump outlined his plan for NASA veering away from being a "logistics agency" for low earth orbit activity and refocusing on exploring the farthest reaches of the solar system by the end of the century, Space Policy Online reports.
"I will free NASA from the restriction of serving primarily as a logistics agency for low earth orbit activity," Trump, who was then a Republican presidential candidate, said at the Orlando Sanford International Airport in October. "Instead we will refocus its mission on space exploration. Under a Trump administration, Florida and America will lead the way into the stars."
While still short of details, Trump's space policy could include major investments in space exploration, strong partnerships between public and private entities, and bold, ambitious goals for NASA.
The plan is heavily influenced by former Republican congressman Robert Walker, who was the chairman of the Science, Space, and Technology Committee during the 90s. Shortly after winning the elections, Trump recruited Walker to draft a plan for NASA. According to a report by Mother Jones, the space policy includes mining valuable minerals from the asteroid belt and visiting Jupiter's icy moon Europa, which is one of the best places to find life in the solar system.
Plans to explore the Red Planet may be pushed back since according to Walker, Mars is "too limited a target," and that existing chemical-fueled rockets could get the job done with some investment. "If you're looking at technology that looks for the solar system, you are then likely to move toward plasma rockets, toward nuclear-powered rockets, certainly toward solar sails," Walker told Mother Jones. "There are a variety of things that you can do, which allows you to apply power throughout the mission."
In 2013, the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope discovered water vapor plumes erupting from the surface of Europa, which is indicative of subsurface oceans beneath the moon's surface.