NASA gives go ahead for Europa mission as it announces funding for sending a probe to Jupiter’s icy moon, which has a high probability of harboring life in our solar system.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) budget request for 2016 includes $30 million to send a spacecraft to examine Europa, NewScientist reported on Tuesday.
“For the first time, the budget supports the formulation and development of a Europa Mission, allowing NASA to begin project formulation,” reads the budget request.
According to NASA, the funding will be used to initiate the planning stage for constructing a probe to carry out multiple flybys over the natural satellite, rather than landing on or orbiting it, and perform a thorough and meticulous study on its surface.
This strategy will lower the cost and heighten safety of the mission as Europa resides in a high radiation environment which may endanger spacecraft.
NASA will select instruments for the “clipper probe” this year in spring, and is aiming for a launch date in the mid-2020s.
Robert Pappalardo, the pre-project scientist for the Europa Clipper probe concept refers to the project as “a big deal”.
“We’re moving toward the next phase, where you’re a real mission. It’s just thrilling after 15 years of pushing for it. It’s a great day.”
Since the 1990s, Europa has been tempting planetary scientists as the Galileo orbiter showed that it may have a deep ocean of salty liquid water, which may harbor life, underneath its thick icy exterior.
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