So, if we lived on Jupiter, and we wanted to send a probe to Earth. . .

What would be the most likely mission profile? Somehow we’d have to slow it down enough to make it drop into a lower orbit around the Sun. What might the best Jovian scientists recommend?

Um, firing a rocket to change the orbit, same as we Earthling scientists do? It’d actually be considerably easier than the equivalent path from Earth to Jupiter, since Jupiter doesn’t have all that much orbital speed to start with. For even more fuel savings, you could probably do one or more slingshots around some of the Jovian moons and/or Mars (exactly what slingshots one would use would, of course, depend on when exactly you launch and how long you’re willing to wait). The big problem would be building a vehicle capable of getting out of Jupiter’s atmosphere (which is darned near the entire planet). Even on Earth, it’s harder to get from the surface to low orbit than it is to get from low orbit to anywhere else in the Universe. On Jupiter, this would be all the more true.

I suspect the method of choice for getting off of Jupiter would be a balloon-launched rocket. Firing a rocket from the rocky surface of Jupiter (assuming there is one) would be damned near impossible.

Are you talking about the energy needed to get off the planet, or the trip from low-Jupiter orbit to low-Earth orbit? If the latter, wouldn’t the delta-V be the same regardless of which direction you’re travelling?

Ah, yes, if you want to enter low-Earth orbit, then the total delta-V would be the same. There might still be some difference in total fuel needed due to how deep a gravity well you burn it in, but I can’t say off the top of my head which would be greater (Jupiter’s well itself is deeper than Earth’s, but Earth is deeper in the Sun’s well). But I was just considering a flyby, in which case the delta-V is not the same.

In any event, once you’re in orbit (any orbit), the problems facing any rocket scientist anywhere in the Universe are fundamentally the same.

I am not sure that a balloon would be a good option… according to all the theories I know, the surface of Jupiter is simply hydrogen that has been compressed to the solid metallic state by atmospheric pressure. Thus any gas would immediately compress to a metallic state and fail to rise. Going over, as one might say, like a lead balloon.

Good point, didn’t think of that…

If you are on the surface, then by definition you are at a place where gas can (barely) exist. Especially if you heat it up a bit - which is what you have to do to obtain buoyancy anyway. (The only balloon that floats in a hydrogen atmosphere is a hot-hydrogen balloon.)

An airplane-launched rocket is another possibility.

How difficult would it be to smelt metals on the surface of Jupiter? (let’s assume some sort of heat source is available and just limit the problem to one of ambient temperature and pressure, plus, foa bonus, what happens to the environment local to the foundry when it is raised to suitable temperatures?

Only if it were launched from a submarine, though. The layer above the solid surface is presumed to be liquid, AFAIK

This seems to be ignoring what kind of creatures “we” are while living “on” Jupiter.

Perhaps we are a sort of gossamer jellyfish, with bodies sized on average six miles in diameter, and tentacular wings up to twenty miles in length - for locomotion in the gaseous dense planetary atmosphere - and a total mass of roughly twelve kilograms.

The things we humans think of as “solid matter” would be very unusual indeed to my hypothetical creatures, I think.

Without postulating what sort of sensory apparatus Jovian natives have (how did they discover the nature of the solar system?), and how they manipulate their environment, and exactly what the nature of their environment is, I don’t know how we could proceed. Perhaps the natives only “see” and “hear” via radio waves, and can only manipulate their environment with electro-magnetic discharges.

Let me put it another way. Suppose in the Marianas trench there’s a society of millions of sentient tool-wielding octopuslike creatures which evolved to survive and thrive at that depth. And they want to go to the moon.

AmbushBug, I think that’s already one of my all-time favorite posts that I’ve ever seen on the SDMB. ::thumbs up::

The recently-launched Mercury MESSENGER probe is going to do some rather contorted maneuvering to end up in orbit around Mercury, despite Mercury’s rather close proximity to Earth, and (to the untrained mind) you’re going farther into the Sun’s gravity well. I think part of this has to do with the fact that the probe has to be “slown down” before it will orbit, and not just go zipping by.

However, Mercury and Venus, where some of the flybys will occur, are relatively close to Earth. What kind of flybys might a probe originating from Jupiter have to do to achieve orbit around Earth? The closest planet is pretty far away. Would some of the Jovian moons be sufficient?

“Ah, but an octopode’s reach should exceed its tentacle, or what’s a heaven for?”

Well, not with a suitably rigid unobtanium balloon shell! Since we’re already way out in sci-fi land anyway…