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Europa - Search for Habitable Planets

Government Funding Approved for Europa Mission in Search for Habitable Planets

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Jupiter’s moon Europa is often described as one of those space destinations that most allure an astronomer. It is reported to contain all the essential ingredients for life, which was identified by NASA “as an icy crust of liquid water” possibly sustaining organisms and other life forms. Therefore, the government has allocated $75 million in funding for pre-formulation and formulation activities for a mission that meets the science goals of a Europa mission.

Europa hit the mainstream news back in March when magnesium sulfate salt was discovered on Europa’s surface, suggesting the possibility of a potential sub-surface ecosystem.  Scientists have already pointed to a number of factors, such as strong evidence for an ocean of liquid water, that could hint at the habitability of Europa and this provides a further incentive for future exploration.

An exploration would involve placing a spacecraft in orbit around Jupiter (‘the Clipper Mission’) where it would make numerous flybys of Europe in order to perform a detailed investigation of its moon.

The government has been eager to support the “Jupiter Europa mission” and a cost effective way of examining the moon.  A Europa mission would offer a bright prospect for the discovery of potentially habitable environments for mankind.

By April Holloway

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