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The natural world. Looking pretty for 3.5b years.

Mission to Europa

Mission to Europa

Author: Hugh Bollinger/Saturday, January 16, 2016/Categories: natural history, photography, space science, environment, adventure

"Reddish salts are associated with a broad band in the image and narrower bands, ridges, and chaos terrain. Europa's surface may have communicated with a subsurface ocean during or after its formation." (credit: JPL)

Tucked within the new NASA budget was a significant initiative for the Jet Propulsion Laboratory at CalTech---the first monies designated for a mission to explore Europa, the moon of Jupiter. Europa holds special interest due to its water ice crust and the detection of a global ocean surrounding the moon, an ocean containing more water than on Earth. Europa's surface is continuously being tugged by Jupiter's gravitational pull and the liquid ocean is maintained by this tidal flux. Previous spectographic analysis by JPL has shown theto be is pure water with various salts and other minerals detected all necessary ingredients for life here and potentially on Europa as well.

               

           Blue/white ice on Europa represent pure water while reddish bands are water mixed with salts. (credit: JPL)

Scientific instruments for the Europa mission are being selected with the potential for a surface lander being included for direct sampling and anlysis on the moon. The Missionto Europa is in the planning stages but could launch after 2020.

A short video explains the JPL's mission's opportunity and goals:

WHB

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