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Will a mission to land a spacecraft on Europa launch by 2030?


Europa provides astrobiologists with the best possibility of finding extraterrestrial life within our solar system. Many scientists believe that beneath the icy surface of Europa there lies a vast saltwater ocean. It is because of the presence of this large body of liquid water beneath the surface that scientists believe that Europa may provide insight into the origins of life.

Galileo Galilei discovered Europa and the other Galilean moons in 1610. In 1979 Voyager 2 gave us our first closeup image of the moon (click here for a complete list of missions to Europa). During the Galileo Mission (1989-2003) Galileo passed near Europa and provided compelling evidence for the existence of saltwater oceans beneath the icy surface. Then in 2013, the Hubble Telescope supplied evidence of erupting water plumes at the surface.

Two upcoming missions will provide additional information about the nature of Europa. First, the Europa Clipper mission will conduct multiply flybys of the moon in the 2020s. This spacecraft will be equipped with cameras, spectrometers, radar, and magnetometers in order to assess the composition of the surface and the underlying oceans. Second, the European Space Agency’s JUICE mission (Jupiter ICy moons Explorer) will launch in 2022 and arrive at Jupiter in 2029. Though Ganymede is the primary target of this mission, JUICE will still fly by Europa twice in an effort to ascertain the composition of the surface and underlying subsurface oceans.

Question is resolved as positive if a credible news agency reports that a mission to land a spacecraft on Europa launches by December 31, 2029.

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