Eve Express has successfully made it to the Eve system after 42 days of interplanetary travel. The multi-part mission successfully used aerobraking in Eve’s dense atmosphere to conserve precious fuel as it settled into the planetary system, a first for RUD. The maneuver was planned to save fuel onboard the Eve Express bus, which will later be used to deorbit the Eve Rover and send it towards the surface of Eve for surface experiments.
The two probes, Eve Explorer 1 and Gilly Explorer 1 have already separated themselves from the Eve Express interplanetary bus and are on their way to their primary mission to scan Eve and Gilly for valuable kethane deposits. Kethane has become the driving force of the recent space exploration missions after scientists discovered how easily it can be refined into usable resources such as rocket fuel.
RUD mission control says that it will take time to scan Eve to thoroughly look for kethane deposits so that it has the most landing site options for Eve Rover 1. This more cautious stance comes after the hard impact that the Duna Rover experienced damaging the rover and limiting its science options. “We just want to find the safest possible landing location for the rover” said a RUD representative from Mission Control.
Forty days ago, the Duna Rover 1 that was part of the Duna Express mission package impacted hard on the Duna surface crippling the mobility abilities of the rover. Investigation into the incident showed that the parachutes did not slow the rover down as much as estimated and the landing site was labelled more rugged than anticipated.
The Eve Explorer 1 probe will survey Eve for kethane deposits. It has already begun maneuvering to place it into a polar orbit, ideal for that type of orbital surveying. Scientists are excited to see what types and amounts of deposits that Eve may have in store as earlier probes to Eve have provided very favorable data conditions for massive kethane deposits.
Some officials aren’t so enthusiastic about the presence of massive kethane deposits on Eve. “Eve presents a lot of problems with surface exploration and return. It is easy to enter Eve’s atmosphere but returning is a problem. We would require more than twice the fuel to launch a rocket off of Eve than we need to get the same rocket off of Kerbin. Not to mention the harsh atmospheric conditions on the surface of Eve.” said Bill Kerman as he watched events unfold at RUD Mission Control.
The Eve planetary system presents its own unique set of challenges though. Maneuvering in the Eve system requires much more fuel attributed to higher gravitational influence exerted on the space craft. Course correction and maneuvering burns need to be finely tuned and calculated for maximum efficiency. Intercepting the asteroid moon Gilly and parking in an orbit on Gilly will be an extreme challenge due to Gilly’s small gravity well.
If generous kethane deposits on Gilly are found, however, it could become a huge and cheap source of fuel refined from the cosmos. It would take very little fuel to get the kethane off of Gilly, unlike its host planet, Eve. That is something scientists are hoping for.