Newly released data from the Cassini spacecraft suggests there are big liquid reservoirs underneath the surface of Mimas, a moon of Saturn.
A global layer of liquid water thick enough to decouple the crust from the mantle is believed to be present on Titan, Europa and, with less certainty, Callisto, Ganymede and Triton. A magma ocean is thought to be present on Io. Geysers have been found on Saturn’s moon Enceladus, possibly originating from about 10 kilometers (6.2 mi) deep ocean beneath an ice shell.
The asteroid Ceres appears to be differentiated into a rocky core and icy mantle and may harbour a liquid-water ocean under its surface.
Not enough is known of the larger Trans-Neptunian objects to determine whether they are differentiated bodies capable of possessing oceans, although models of radioactive decay suggest that Pluto, Eris, Sedna, and Orcus have oceans beneath solid icy crusts at the core-boundary approximately 100 to 180 km thick.
There is the hypothesis that Uranus and Neptune possessing hot, highly compressed, supercritical water under their thick atmospheres.
NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, scheduled for launch in 2018, will be capable of measuring the spectrum of the atmospheres of Earthlike exoplanets orbiting small stars.
Credit: NASA, Northrop Grumman
The time is right for a Spaceways program because Spacex and Blue Origin are very close to getting reusable rockets. Spacex is already one of the lowest cost commercial rocket launch provider. As of March 2013, Falcon Heavy launch prices are below $1,000 per pound ($2,200 per kg) to low-Earth orbit when the launch vehicle is transporting its maximum delivered cargo weight . As of March 2013, Falcon 9.1.1 launch prices are $4,109 per kilogram ($1,864/lb) to low-Earth orbit when the launch vehicle is transporting its maximum cargo weight. The Federal highways used a fund to pay for highways, so ther should be a fund to pay for more launches to lower the costs over time.
Nextbigfuture – The US spends $60 billion per year on NASA, military and intelligence space programs. This means over $1.8 trillion over 30 years is what would be the expected budget. There is also the commercial space industry and international space efforts. The proposed $500 billion over 30 years would have to be carved out of the existing programs. The International Space station cost over $100 billion. The cumulative budget put into the space shuttle program was over $200 billion.
Strategically investing $500 billion (perhaps in conjunction with China, Europe, Japan and other countries) would provide high frequency reusable launches with demand like the airmail deliveries did for the airlines. It would be an investment in infrastructure like the highway system. The Earth and some orbit infrastructure is discussed but this level of effort would require orbital fuel depots and refueling and orbital and space industrialization.