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Why NASA's Plans for an Early 2020s Mission to Europa Are Likely to Happen

Europa mission concepts under study by NASA. Image Credit: NASA/JPL

For years scientists and dreamers alike have looked toward Jupiter’s moon Europa with a keen interest, because decades of observations and research of the frozen world (thanks to spacecraft like Galileo and Voyager) have shown us that the Jovian satellite is easily one of [...]

Europa Erupts: Hubble Space Telescope Discovers Tantalising Evidence of Water Plumes on Jupiter's Moon

An artist’s concept of the water plumes on the south pole of Europa, discovered by recent ultraviolet observations from the Hubble Space Telescope. Image Credit: NASA/ESA/K. Retherford/SWRI

“All these worlds are yours, except Europa. Attempt no landing there.” — 2010: The Year We Make Contact

 

In the fictional universe of 2010, people on Earth [...]

Panspermia on the Moons of Jupiter? New Study Finds It Possible, While Another Finds Evidence of Clay-Like Minerals on Europa

New studies strengthen the case for the possibility of life, carried by asteroids or comets on places like Europa. Image Credit: NASA/JPL/Ted Stryk.

Even though Mars receives most of the spotlight today when it comes to searching for places in the Solar System—besides Earth—where life might have arisen, there are many in the scientific [...]

A Story of Planetary Seduction: The Captivating Charms of Europa

An enchanting image of Europa hanging above Jupiter’s limb, as seen by the New Horizons probe in 2007, on its way to Pluto. When will we return there and answer one of the most important questions ever asked: Is there life beyond Earth? Image Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute

Here’s [...]

Searching for Life in Europa's Ocean - With a Tiny Submarine

Artist’s conception of DADU exploring ice-covered waters.Image Credit: Jonas Jonsson / Angstrom Space Technology Centre of Uppsala University

For decades, Jupiter’s moon Europa has been the focus of fascination and debate. Why? Because it has a global ocean—a deep, salty ocean similar to those on Earth, except that in Europa’s case it is always covered by a [...]

Where Are the Best Windows Into Europa's Interior?

This graphic of Jupiter’s moon Europa maps a relationship between the amount of energy deposited onto the moon from charged-particle bombardment and the chemical contents of ice deposits on the surface in five areas of the moon (labeled A through E). Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Ariz./JHUAPL/Univ. of Colo.

The surface of Jupiter’s moon Europa [...]

Alien Life Around Distant Stars? Study of Outer Solar System's Moons Suggests We Look Closer

Recent reports have shown that Europa could be a bastion for life in the outer solar system. Image Credit: NASA

While there have been more than a few predictions made as to when we will discover life on a planet orbiting some far-flung star, what is only occasionally predicted is whether or not we [...]

The Search for Alien Life Part 2: In the Realm of the Gas Giants

The trailing hemisphere of Jupiter’s moon Europa as imaged by Galileo. Photo Credit: NASA

Beyond the main asteroid belt lie the giant planets Jupiter and Saturn and their impressive retinues of moons. What chances for life are out here in the frozen wastes of the solar system? At first glance, you’d imagine none. The [...]

New 'Clipper' Mission Proposed to Study Europa's Ocean

Jupiter’s moon Europa, an ice-covered waterworld. Could life exist there?Photo Credit: NASA / JPL / Ted Stryk.

Jupiter’s moon Europa is often referred to as a “waterworld,” and for good reason: a global ocean almost definitely exists below its outer icy crust, making it a primary focus of interest in the search for life [...]