NASA vision of the spacecraft and base for a human mission to Callisto

NASA examined revolutionary aerospace systems concepts for human space exploration of the solar system beyond Mars orbit and identified critical technology requirements for the realization of these systems concepts.

Due to its distance from Jupiter’s powerful radiation belt, Callisto is subject to only 0.01 rem a day. When NASA carried out a study called HOPE (Revolutionary Concepts for Human Outer Planet Exploration) regarding the future exploration of the Solar System, the target chosen was Callisto. It could be possible to build a surface base that would produce fuel for further exploration of the Solar System. Callisto has long been considered the most suitable place for a human base for future exploration of the Jovian system.

– Callisto is the fourth moon of Jupiter: mostly outside of radiation belts
– About the size of the planet Mercury, surface at 1/8 G
– Most heavily cratered place in the solar system
– Covered with ice and asteroid dust

Technology Assumptions

• Advanced space suits
– Adequate radiation and cold temperature protection enable up to 15 3-hour excursions during a 30-day Callisto surface stay

• Precision landing capabilities
– Landing target can be reached with an error of no more than 30 meters

• Autonomous deployment and operation of surface systems
– Habitat, power system, ISRU system, and navigation/communication system can all be autonomously deployed before crew arrival

• Prevention of loss during liquid cryogen transfer over 30+ meters

• Super-cold materials
– Metals that withstand 100 K enable surface vehicle mechanisms
– Structural materials that are flexible at 100 K enable inflatable surface hab design
• Brayton nuclear reactor
– Power system can deliver 400 kWe power at a mass of 30kg/kW

SOURCE – NASA Revolutionary Concepts for Human Outer Planet Exploration (HOPE) by Pat Troutman of NASA Langley Research Center, Kristen Bethke, Princeton University