The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) currently plans to launch a probe that will orbit planet Jupiter's icy moon Europa by 2025 after the released 2015 White House federal budget allocated $15 million for developing the mission. NASA researchers, who have been working on the Europa Clipper plan for years, will be able to observe the moon's ice shell and subsurface ocean with the use of different science instruments when the probe makes several flybys on Europa.
On Tuesday, March 4, officials have confirmed that the space agency hopes to launch the mission to the Europa in "a decade or so from now." Elizabeth Robinson, the NASA chief financial officer, described the Europa mission to be a challenging one that operates in a really high radiation environment.
"There's lots to do to prepare for it. We're looking for a launch some time in the mid-2020s," the NASA official declared on Tuesday, according to the Space.com report. Ms Robinson further added that the space agency will be reaching out to the scientific community in order to map out the Europa mission since they are not sure at this point with its total size.
In 2013, scientists have discovered the liquid plumes of water going off Europa's ice and it has put up the drive for the Europa mission that could provide a way to take samples and yield results. "Flying through those watery jets could make Europa cheaper to explore than just circling it or landing on the ice," NASA Europa scientist Robert Pappalardo stated in the CTV News report.
Jim Green, the head of NASA's planetary science division, declared in December 2013 during the American Geophysical Union annual fall meeting in San Francisco that the Europa Clipper is what they call a "flagship" but the mission is being deferred "until later in the decade" due to the budget horizon.
"NASA will look at many competing ideas for a Europa mission, so the agency doesn't know how big or how much it will cost," Ms Robinson shared. Other experts have weighed in as well on the Europa mission.
Harvard University astronomer Avi Loeb claimed that going on a mission to Europa will be more exciting than looking at the dry planet Mars since there "might be fish under the ice" in Jupiter's moon. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute astronomer Laurie Leshin, on the other hand, described the mission as daring since the observations will be made on the "extremely compelling object in our solar system."
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