ENP Newswire -
Release date- 16072014 -
Selected instruments could address fundamental questions about the icy moon and the search for life beyond Earth.
'The possibility of life on Europa is a motivating force for scientists and engineers around the world,' said
The AO calls for proposals compatible with a spacecraft that would either orbit or perform multiple flybys of Europa. Spacecraft instruments will be used to conduct high priority scientific investigations addressing the science goals for the moon's exploration outlined in the
Characterize the extent of the ocean and its relation to the deeper interior
Characterize the ice shell and any subsurface water, including their heterogeneity, and the nature of surface-ice-ocean exchange
Determine global surface, compositions and chemistry, especially as related to habitability
Understand the formation of surface features, including sites of recent or current activity, identify and characterize candidate sites for future detailed exploration
Understand Europa's space environment and interaction with the magnetosphere.
While characterizing landing sites for future exploration is the fourth scientific priority in the
'Proposals must be responsive to one or more of the six objectives,' said
Any mission to Europa must take into account the harsh radiation environment that would require unique protection of the spacecraft and instruments. In addition, spacecraft must meet planetary protection requirements intended to protect Europa's potentially habitable ocean. These requirements are very strict and involve ensuring that a viable Earth organism is not introduced into the Europa ocean.
Previous scientific findings point to the existence of a liquid water ocean located under the moon's icy crust. This ocean covers Europa entirely and contains more liquid water than all of Earth's oceans combined.
Although Europa and Jupiter's other moons have been visited by other spacecraft, they were each limited to a single distant flyby.
The NRC recommended
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