NASA confirms mission to ice world of Europa

NASA confirms mission to ice world of Europa

Stephen Kuper

An icy ocean world in our solar system that could tell us more about the potential for life on other worlds is coming into focus with confirmation of the Europa Clipper mission’s next phase.

The mission will conduct an in-depth exploration of Jupiter's moon Europa and investigate whether the icy moon could harbour conditions suitable for life, honing our insights into astrobiology.

NASA's plan aims to develop this mission in the most cost-effective fashion. NASA is targeting to have the Europa Clipper spacecraft complete and ready for launch as early as 2023. The agency baseline commitment, however, supports a launch readiness date by 2025.

The decision allows the mission to progress to completion of final design, followed by the construction and testing of the entire spacecraft and science payload.

Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington, said, "We are all excited about the decision that moves the Europa Clipper mission one key step closer to unlocking the mysteries of this ocean world.

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"We are building upon the scientific insights received from the flagship Galileo and Cassini spacecraft and working to advance our understanding of our cosmic origin, and even life elsewhere."

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, leads the development of the Europa Clipper mission in partnership with the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory for the Science Mission Directorate. Europa Clipper is managed by the Planetary Missions Program Office at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

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