NASA moves ahead with a mission to Europa


A mission to Jupiter’s moon Europa (pictured) will try to figure out if the ocean beneath the icy crust is habitable.

JPL-Caltech/NASA, SETI Institute

NASA announced June 17 that it is forging ahead with its plans to send a spacecraft to Europa, an icy moon of Jupiter. The mission concept passed its first major review, giving engineers the green light to start working out the details.

In May, mission leaders presented the suite of instruments that the probe will carry to the icy moon and its giant planet. The spacecraft is scheduled to launch in the 2020s. Once in orbit around Jupiter, the craft will buzz Europa 45 times to snap pictures and probe the potentially habitable salt water ocean thought to lurk beneath the ice. 

Christopher Crockett is an Associate News Editor. He was formerly the astronomy writer from 2014 to 2017, and he has a Ph.D. in astronomy from the University of California, Los Angeles.

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