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Old 2012-12-27, 08:19   #13
xilman's Avatar
May 2003
Down not across

253128 Posts
Default Hot air ballooning.

Not sure that budgetary constraints would allow this one, but it may be worth exploring further.

Fly a hot air balloon in the Jovian atmosphere. Standard trip to Jupiter, followed by aerobraking for stopping in the stratosphere. Drop what's left of the thermal protection, unfold the envelope and inflate by burning an on-board oxygen supply. Keep topped up by the waste heat from a small fission reactor which also provides the science and communications package with oodles of electrical power.

Not sure whether a comsat in high-Jovian orbit would be needed --- that's part of the cost constraint, but not the <= 2 launches constraint.

The main probe should fit on a Ariane-5 or its near-future upgrade.
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