A proposed $2 billion spacecraft would perform several flyovers of Jupiter's enigmatic ice-covered moon.
Europa has long been considered the most likely place in the solar system to find alien life. The surface is covered in a thick crust of intricately patterned ice and it is believed that deep below there could be a vast subsurface ocean of warm water. Reaching this ocean would be a tremendous challenge due to the depth of the ice however a mission to investigate the surface is something that has been contemplated for many years.
With a tentative schedule for a 2021 launch, the Clipper mission would fly close over the surface several times to give scientists a close-up view of Europa's icy shell and to identify possible landing sites for future missions.
"Though NASA is devoting many of its exploration resources to Mars these days, the agency still has its eye on an icy moon of Jupiter that may be capable of supporting life as we know it."
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Source: Discovery News
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