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With one flight's worth of experience under my belt, I could put together a decent tracked payload with sensors and a camera for under $200, using off-the-shelf components. Less if I want to spend time making a circuit board. I'm not sure what helium costs these days, but that and a small envelope sure as hell aren't going to add $800 to the bill.
Are you saying that writer doesn't know what he's talking about?
That is exactly the case. There is an infinitesimal kernel of truth at the center of that pearl of idiocy; a high-altitude nuclear detonation does produce geomagnetic field disturbances similar to, but much more violent than, a CME impact. But the effects one normally thinks of as coming from a nuclear EMP -- small electronics being suddenly destroyed by radio-frequency electromagnetic fields -- are absolutely absent from a CME-induced geomagnetic storm.
And sometimes, you end up with a random
There's real potential for using cubesats beyond Earth orbit. Lots and lots of people have noticed this, and they've generally also noticed the same set of problems -- power, cold, communication, and radiation. There are possible solutions to each of those, but they come with major costs and the probe described and drawn in the article incorporates none of them.
The aerodynamic entry idea is utter nonsense on that moon, though -- what passes for an atmosphere on Europa would qualify as "ultra-high vacuum" in a laboratory. It's about the same density as what the ISS is orbiting through right now. There is no structure in existence that could decelerate enough in that atmosphere to land gently. The terminal velocity of a flake of monolayer graphene is comparable to rifle muzzle velocities, and functional circuitry is a few orders of magnitude heavier than that.
At least the chipsats turning into teeny little craters in the ice will reduce the data burden for the cubesat's transmitter, which based on those solar panels has a power budget of about a tenth of a watt to make a link at a range close to a billion kilometers. You can maybe squeeze a few hundred bits per second out of that while you're tying up a DSN dish, otherwise forget it.
Maybe they're thinking of making it an accessory to a full-size probe, but forgot to mention the need to send a few hundred kilograms of other stuff out there too. Or maybe somebody was behind on their press release quota, and this half-baked crap was the best thing they had lying around.
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