NASA has issued a request to science and engineering communities around the world for ideas for a mission to Europa that could address fundamental questions about the enigmatic moon and the search for life beyond Earth.
The two views of Europa above show its natural appearance on the left and a false-color composite on the right that enhances color differences in the predominantly water-ice crust of the Jovian moon.
NASA is looking for concepts for a mission to Europa that costs less than $1 billion, excluding the launch vehicle, and can meet as many as possible of the science priorities recommended by the National Research Council in 2011 for the study of Europa.
“This is an opportunity to hear from those creative teams that have ideas on how we can achieve the most science at minimum cost,” said John Grunsfeld, associate administrator for the NASA Science Mission Directorate at the agency’s headquarters in Washington. “Europa is one of the most interesting sites in our solar system in the search for life beyond Earth. The drive to explore Europa has stimulated not only scientific interest but also the ingenuity of engineers and scientists with innovative concepts.”
Previous scientific findings point to the existence of a liquid water ocean under the moon’s icy crust.
For more on NASA’s request, see this NASA press release.