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Space & Astronomy

ESA scientists set their sights on Europa

By T.K. Randall
April 20, 2016 · Comment icon 13 comments



What lies beneath Europa's icy crust ? Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
An upcoming NASA mission to Jupiter's icy moon is offering ESA a unique opportunity for exploration.
When it comes to seeking out signs of extraterrestrial life within our own solar system, no target has proven more tantalizing than Jupiter's moon Europa - a world thought to be home to a potentially habitable ocean of liquid water hidden deep beneath a thick icy exterior shell.

So far the only spacecraft to have visited Europa have remained high up in orbit, but now NASA, which has long had an interest in exploring the moon further, is planning to launch a brand new mission in the 2020s and is offering ESA an opportunity to come along for the ride.

While it isn't clear exactly what type of mission NASA will send, it is likely that it will consist of at least an orbiter and possibly even a soft lander that might launch separately a couple of years later.
European scientists are now also working on developing their own add-on mission with ideas ranging from remote-sensing instruments to a robotic probe that can melt through the ice.

"One thing is true: we are very enthusiastic about proposing something, and proposing for that mission which will land on Europa for the first time in the space age," said Michel Blanc from the Research Institute in Astrophysics and Planetology in Toulouse.

"It's going to be a big event, and I am sure it is going to be a big priority for the world community."



Source: BBC News | Comments (13)


Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #4 Posted by Merc14 7 years ago
2022 launch date. I wish I was years younger. Golden age folks, enjoy it while you live through it
Comment icon #5 Posted by paperdyer 7 years ago
Is there any speculation of what type of life NASA thinks they will find? Europa is a long way from the temperature zone scientists quote all the time when they go looking for extraterrestrial life.
Comment icon #6 Posted by Vox 7 years ago
ALL THESE WORLDS ARE YOURS—EXCEPT EUROPA ATTEMPT NO LANDING THERE Someone had to do it
Comment icon #7 Posted by Silent Trinity 7 years ago
Finally they are going to Europa, should have done this a long time ago, always fascinated me this particular moon.
Comment icon #8 Posted by Calibeliever 7 years ago
Is there any speculation of what type of life NASA thinks they will find? Europa is a long way from the temperature zone scientists quote all the time when they go looking for extraterrestrial life. When I was a little kid science hadn't yet imagined life existing without sunlight as the main energy source. Even life at the bottom of the ocean was assumed to exist on the bio snow that rained down from the surface as animals above died and decayed. In '77 when they discovered life that thrived on hydrogen sulfide around thermal vents or "smokers" at extreme depths, it exploded our range of cond... [More]
Comment icon #9 Posted by BeastieRunner 7 years ago
Do they expect to find anything alive (including bacteria, etc.) or is still a shot in the dark on that?
Comment icon #10 Posted by toast 7 years ago
Is there any speculation of what type of life NASA thinks they will find? Science does not speculate. Europa is a long way from the temperature zone scientists quote all the time when they go looking for extraterrestrial life. The habitable zone for exoplanets is defined by the surface temperature range that would keep water liquid. The Galileo mission to Jupiter collected data of Europa that gave the option of liquid water below the ice crust of Europa. On earth, fish can live pretty well in such an environment.
Comment icon #11 Posted by paperdyer 7 years ago
Science does not speculate. The habitable zone for exoplanets is defined by the surface temperature range that would keep water liquid. The Galileo mission to Jupiter collected data of Europa that gave the option of liquid water below the ice crust of Europa. On earth, fish can live pretty well in such an environment. Isn't a theory a speculation based on assumptions you want to prove? Seems that way based on some design of experiments I've seen. You have a preconceived notion (speculation) and you try to prove it if youe can.
Comment icon #12 Posted by Calibeliever 7 years ago
Isn't a theory a speculation based on assumptions you want to prove? Seems that way based on some design of experiments I've seen. You have a preconceived notion (speculation) and you try to prove it if youe can. On the whole I'd have to agree with you. I stumbled across this the other day:
Comment icon #13 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf 7 years ago
Isn't a theory a speculation based on assumptions you want to prove? Seems that way based on some design of experiments I've seen. You have a preconceived notion (speculation) and you try to prove it if youe can. Nope. A scientific theory is basically something that has been proven to be true. A scientific hypothesis is a proposed explanation for a phenomena. It is based on observation. Since there are no observations about life on Europa one way or another toast is right, science doesn't speculate. That doesn't mean scientists don't speculate.


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