europa

Digging into the ice on Europa with lasers

Digging into the ice on Europa with lasers

Ever since the Pioneer and Voyager probes passed through the Jovian system in the 1970s, NASA and other space agencies have dreamed of one-day sending a mission to Europa. Beyond Earth, it is considered one of the most promising candidates for finding life, which could exist in the subsurface ocean that lies beneath the moon’s icy crust.

NASA simulation shows how Europa’s “fossil ocean” rises to the surface over time

NASA simulation shows how Europa’s “fossil ocean” rises to the surface over time

In the 1970s, the Jupiter system was explored by a succession of robotic missions, beginning with the Pioneer 10 and 11 missions in 1972/73 and the Voyager 1 and 2 missions in 1979. In addition to other scientific objectives, these missions also captured images of Europa’s icy surface features, which gave rise to the theory that the moon had an interior ocean that could possibly harbor life.

Europa by the Numbers

Europa by the Numbers

Galileo Galilei discovered Jupiter's moon Europa in 1610. More than four centuries later, astronomers are still making discoveries about its icy surface. With a diameter of almost 2,000 miles, an orbit equivalent to 3.5 Earth days and a mass about 65 percent of Earth's Moon, Europa is considered by some scientists a likely place to look for present-day environments suitable for life.

Signs of water plumes boost chances of finding life on Jupiter’s moon Europa

Signs of water plumes boost chances of finding life on Jupiter’s moon Europa

Along with Mars, Jupiter’s moon Europa has long captured the imagination of science fiction writers as a potential place for life in the solar system beyond Earth. In science fact, missions have found hints of a subsurface water ocean below the icy crust of the moon. And where there’s warm, liquid water, and the right chemistry, there could indeed be life.

Icy worlds like Europa and Enceladus might actually be too soft to land on

Icy worlds like Europa and Enceladus might actually be too soft to land on

Some truly interesting and ambitious missions have been proposed by NASA and other space agencies for the coming decades. Of these, perhaps the most ambitious include missions to explore the “Ocean Worlds” of the Solar System. Within these bodies, which include Jupiter’s moon Europa and Saturn’s moon Enceladus, scientists have theorized that life could exist in warm-water interior oceans.

NASA says James Webb Telescope will study solar system's 'ocean worlds'

NASA says James Webb Telescope will study solar system's 'ocean worlds'

In October of 2018, the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) will be launched into orbit. As part of NASA’s Next Generation Space Telescope program, the JWST will spend the coming years studying every phase of cosmic history. This will involve probing the first light of the Universe (caused by the Big Bang), the first galaxies to form, and extra-solar planets in nearby star systems.

Europa Lander Could Carry a Microphone and 'Listen' to the Ice to Find Out What's Underneath

Europa Lander Could Carry a Microphone and 'Listen' to the Ice to Find Out What's Underneath

Between the Europa Clipper and the proposed Europa Lander, NASA has made it clear that it intends to send a mission to this icy moon of Jupiter in the coming decade. Ever since the Voyager 1 and 2 probes conducted their historic flybys of the moon in 1973 and 1974 – which offered the first indications of a warm-water ocean – scientists have been eager to peak beneath the surface and see what lies within.

Europa's venting global ocean may be easier to reach than we thought!

Europa's venting global ocean may be easier to reach than we thought!

Last week, on Tuesday, September 20th, NASA announced that they had made some interesting findings about Jupiter’s icy moon Europa. These were based on images taken by the Hubble Space Telescope, the details of which would be released on the following week. Needless to say, since then, the scientific community and general public have been waiting with baited breath.

Space submarines will allow us to explore the seas of icy moons

Space submarines will allow us to explore the seas of icy moons

One of the most profound and exciting breakthroughs in planetary science in the last two decades has been the discovery of liquid methane lakes on the surface of Saturn’s largest moon Titan, and liquid oceans under the icy surfaces of many of the giant gas planets' other moons. Thrillingly, these some of these “waters” may actually harbour life.

The Moon was a first step, Mars will test our capabilities, but Europa is the prize

The Moon was a first step, Mars will test our capabilities, but Europa is the prize

When talking about the most interesting place in our solar system outside of earth, Europa usually comes op very quickly. Over the years there have been many attempts to create a mission to this mysterious moon. These attempts have always been struck down... Until now.