NASA is headed to Jupiter’s fascinating moon Europa this year. Scientists suspect a deep ocean sloshes beneath the icy world’s crust.
The looming mission, called Europa Clipper, will launch in October, sending a spacecraft the length of a basketball court to make around 50 flybys by the distant Jovian moon, assessing whether it could harbor conditions suitable for life. It won’t, however, land on the ice crust.
Yet the space agency is already preparing an ambitious follow-up mission, aptly named Europa Lander, that will touch down on the moon’s surface and dig or drill into the ice. “In this mission concept, a spacecraft would land on Europa and collect and study samples from about 4 inches (10 centimeters) beneath the surface, looking for signs of life,” NASA explains.
NASA will land daring spacecraft on a world 800 million miles away