Nasa will launch a probe on Jupiter’s moon Europa by mid-2020s. Europa is the most livable place in space, and there is hope of discovering alien life on this oceanic moon. This is the closest Nasa has come to admitting there is probably life beyond Earth.
The conditions on Europa have intrigued scientists for a long time, placing the icy moon as number one on their destination wish list.
The main aim of the upcoming mission involves observing the icy satellite from afar, but the space agency is considering sending a small probe down to the surface as well.
“We are actively pursuing the possibility of a lander,” said Robert Pappalardo, Europa project scientist at Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). “Nasa has asked us to investigate: What would it take? How much would it cost? Could we put a small surface package on Europa with this mission?”
Nasa has also asked the European Space Agency if it would be interested in contributing their own probe to the roughly $2 billion Europa mission.
The Nasa spacecraft will use as many as nine different tools to study the icy terrain of Europa, including high-resolution cameras, a heat detector, and ice-penetrating radar. Scientists hope to gather new data about Europa’s composition, the nature of its sub-surface oceans, as well as its ability to host life as we know it.
The as-yet-unnamed Europa mission could launch as early as 2022. After reaching Jupiter orbit, the robotic probe will perform 45 flybys of Europa over the course of 2.5 to 3 years.