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NASA seeking ideas for mission to Europa

Posted on Thursday, 17 July, 2014 | Comment icon 24 comments

What lies beneath Europa's surface ? Image Credit: Britney Schmidt/Dead Pixel VFX

The space agency is accepting proposals for science instruments for future use on Jupiter's icy moon.

As part of its efforts to search for evidence of extraterrestrial life within our own solar system, NASA is planning on sending a spacecraft to Jupiter's moon Europa, a cold and enigmatic world thought to contain a liquid water ocean beneath a thin ice crust.

This time however the space agency is inviting scientists and engineers from all over the world to submit proposals for instruments designed to help find signs of life there.

The winning entry will be funded, built and then sent to Europa when the mission launches at some point in the not-too-distant future.

"The possibility of life on Europa is a motivating force for scientists and engineers around the world," said NASA's John Grunsfeld. "This solicitation will select instruments which may provide a big leap in our search to answer the question: Are we alone in the universe ?"

Source: Fox News | Comments (24)

Tags: Europa, Jupiter

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #15 Posted by Merc14 on 18 July, 2014, 12:57
I was thinking the same thing. A high speed, inert and sterile projectile fired at the surface would kick up tons of ejecta which could then be analyzed by the orbiting spacecraft. You could make its composoition identical to meteoric iron so that there would be no complaints about polluting the surface with or inroducing foreign material as I am sure the moon is hit all the time with iron-nickel meterors.
Comment icon #16 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 18 July, 2014, 14:33
Thank you for pointing this out, I apologise to John Wesley Boyd for questioning his honesty. I would still suggest that he checks his facts before making provably wrong claims though.
Comment icon #17 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 18 July, 2014, 14:36
I question the need for a deep impact projectile. Since Europa has geysers which spray material many tens of kilometres into space a Europa orbiter (or flyby) mission could sample such material without the need for the weight and complexity of an impactor.
Comment icon #18 Posted by keithisco on 19 July, 2014, 16:27
Does anyone know if the flybe or orbits will take the craft over the South Pole where the geysers appear to be? If so then I totally agree that an impactor would be surplus to needs. Analysis of any samples collected would be a real boost to the mission outbrief.
Comment icon #19 Posted by Parsec on 20 July, 2014, 10:19
In total fairness and just to clear things up (althought keithisko already brought that up), here's a screen of UM article's page and even UM Home page, as referred by John Wesley Boyd (red underline mine): So maybe he should read mor thoroughly before posting, but you should check facts better before jumping on someone's neck, since as you can read the word "on" wasn't his invention. Anyway, quoting keithisko and moving on, it would be interesting not only analyze the product of the geysers, but study if there's a frequency in the bursts, and see if it... [More]
Comment icon #20 Posted by Merc14 on 20 July, 2014, 13:30
I understand but the geysers are not predictable. A man made impact would allow the spacecraft to be in the "right place at the right time" to deploy all its instrumentation during the event. Of course, as you said, the geysers would provide an immense amount of info and should also be explored and I can't imagine they wouldn't be.
Comment icon #21 Posted by Fizzpop on 20 July, 2014, 22:06
Any body up for some ice fishing ...
Comment icon #22 Posted by Bavarian Raven on 20 July, 2014, 22:34
We will need some beers and an ice hut. Can't be worse then northern Canada in January.
Comment icon #23 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 21 July, 2014, 11:41
And maybe, before flame-baiting by sticking your nose in affairs that have nothing to do with you, you should have noticed that I apologised for my behaviour. Are going to apologise for yours? WE had.
Comment icon #24 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 21 July, 2014, 12:08
I would guess that a final orbit has been determined yet and may be based on the kind of instruments NASA chooses to fly, however as mapping the surface for future lander missions is one of the stated goals a polar or near polar orbit would make sense. A man made object is not going to penetrate kilometres of ice, and so will not give you the information that flying through a geyser will. An impactor is a one shot experiment, and problems with the spacecraft an the experiment is lost, unlike most instruments flown on space probes you can not try a second time. Worst, an impactor will ... [More]

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