Europa Or Bust

On February 2, 2015 NASA administrator Charles Bolden spoke of a selection process for projects accompanying a mission to Europa. The same day, a White House announcement revealed an additional half billion in direct funding for the space agency – with 30 million destined to “formulate” plans for Europa Clipper, a mission to Jupiter’s iconic moon, Europa.

Europa captured scientific imagination in 1979 – images from Voyager raised eyebrows overย  liquid water, perhaps even lifeforms,ย  beneath Europa’s frozen exterior. Science speculates this crust to be 100 kilometers thick – many believe a hidden ocean exists, kept liquid by constant push and pull of Jupiter’s impressive gravity. Similar to extreme forms of life found in the deepest corners of our oceans – lifeforms thriving on energy from hydrothermal vents.

Europa Clipper isn’t expected to land – landing will likely take place once the Clipper mission completes accurate mapping and analysis. If all goes well, translation – Clipper’s ice penetrating radar, infrared imaging, and ion/neutral mass spectrometers bolster suspicions – A Europa landing mission will follow.

All I can say is – about time NASA. Europa or bust.

A composite of Europa made from images from the Galileo spacecraft, which orbited in the jovian system for eight years, beginning in 1995.  Image via NASA/JPL

A composite of Europa made from images from the Galileo spacecraft, which orbited in the Jovian system for eight years, beginning in 1995. Areas that appear blue or white contain relatively pure water ice. Image via NASA/JPL

11 thoughts on “Europa Or Bust

  1. I’m not sure whether they will find life but what I like is a) that they think they might and b) that they will develop new methods for detecting life indirectly and remotely.

    I might live the day yet when life loses its rainbow status (i.e. magical) and becomes a natural phenomena that simply requires a certain geology, climate and huge amounts of time.

      • Crumbs … if I’d known it was that easy to make a girl happy, I would have started collecting koi back when I was 17!
        Think of all the problems I would have solved!

        For the record, our largest fish, a gold coloured koi, we call Oberon.
        Another, a shusui, is called Io.
        This year we had a good crop of babies born. They too will get named once they have filled out a bit and taken on their adult colouring.

        Shakes head.

      • All it takes to make this girls day is for someone to acknowledge life exists beyond our pip-squeak little planet ๐Ÿ™‚ If you run out of moons for your Koi – name one Vega (one of my favorite stars)

      • I had at one time considered galaxies for names but SMC, NGC 292 just seemed to confuse the fish … not to mention it was a bit of a mouthful. ๐Ÿ˜‰

      • Well, I am a fan of science fiction, always have been and such related science fact, as long as it isn’t too complicated fr me to get my head around.

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