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NASA picks nine instruments for future mission to Europa

illustration of future mission to Europa

A future mission to Europa, illustrated here, will investigate the moon’s subsurface ocean while orbiting Jupiter and flying by the moon multiple times (blue lines).

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NASA is gearing up to see what’s lurking in the salty seas beneath the icy shell of Jupiter’s moon Europa. Nine instruments will fly aboard a spacecraft slated to launch sometime in the 2020s that will investigate whether or not the moon is habitable, space agency officials announced at a news conference May 26.

Two cameras will map the moon, while an ice-penetrating radar will peer beneath its surface. To figure out what’s in the water, three instruments will measure the composition of material deposited on the surface of the moon and what’s blasted into space. The probe will carry two detectors that will measure the moon’s magnetic field, which will reveal the depth and saltiness of the ocean. And an ultraviolet spectrometer will be the spacecraft’s dedicated plume hunter, seeking out evidence of water vents like those seen on Saturn’s moon Enceladus.

Genetics,, Science & Society

White House hits pause on editing human germline cells

By Tina Hesman Saey 4:05pm, May 26, 2015
The White House has hit pause, for now, on clinical experiments that could alter the human germ line.
Climate,, Earth

Once-stable Antarctic glaciers are now melting rapidly

By Thomas Sumner 2:00pm, May 21, 2015
A group of glaciers in Antarctica that were once stable started rapidly melting in 2009, new research shows.
Animals

Crows safeguard sticks to speed future food-finding forays

By Ashley Yeager 8:00am, May 20, 2015
New Caledonian crows safeguard the sticks they use to find food. As the risk of losing the tool increases, the more protective the birds become.
Health

Broken bones heal with young blood, how remains a mystery

By Meghan Rosen 11:00am, May 19, 2015
Blood from young mice rejuvenates bones of elderly mice, but how it works remains a mystery.
Planetary Science

Boulders balance on tiny tips as comet 67P zooms through space

By Christopher Crockett 4:38pm, May 18, 2015
Three boulders on comet 67P resemble balancing rocks that are seen on Earth.
Toxicology,, Health

E-cigarette flavorings may harm lungs

By Beth Mole 3:00pm, May 18, 2015
Certain e-cigarette flavors, such as banana pudding, may damage lung tissue
Health

A firm grip may predict risk of death better than blood pressure

By Teresa Shipley Feldhausen 9:00am, May 18, 2015
The strength of people’s grip could predict how likely they are to die if they develop cardiovascular or other diseases.
Animals,, Ecology,, Biophysics

Ants snap jaws, shoot skyward, escape death

By Susan Milius 8:58am, May 15, 2015
Emergency trap jaw launchings help some ants pass death tests.
Genetics,, Health

Quicker sepsis diagnosis may be a step closer

By Ashley Yeager 6:00am, May 14, 2015
Identifying genes linked with sepsis may make it possible to develop a blood test to diagnose the infection days sooner than current methods.
Planetary Science

New Horizons probe takes family photo of Pluto's moons

By Christopher Crockett 3:38pm, May 13, 2015
The New Horizons spacecraft finally spied Pluto's two tiniest satellites, Kerberos and Styx, in a series of images taken from April 25, 2015 to May 1, 2015.
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