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Europa Lander
Europa Lander Mission to Jupiter

Mission Type: Lander
Europa Lander Concept Study Report,

Understanding Europa's habitability is intimately tied to understanding the three "ingredients" for life: water, chemistry, and energy. These astrobiological themes could be well addressed by a landed mission to Europa. Measurements obtained from the moon's surface could allow for direct analysis of the satellite's chemistry and mineralogy through in-situ investigations and measurements that are not possible to achieve remotely:

  • A properly equipped lander could allow for sampling beneath the radiation-processed uppermost portion of Europa's icy shell, providing insights about its native composition and implications for life.
  • A lander is an excellent platform from which to perform geophysical measurements to probe Europa's ice shell and subsurface ocean.
  • A landed mission could permit detailed analyses of local surface geology.

Notional science objectives for this mission concept:

Europa's Composition: Understand the habitability of Europa's ocean through composition and chemistry.

Europa's Ocean and Ice Shell: Characterize the local thickness, heterogeneity, and dynamics of any ice and water layers.

Europa's Geology: Characterize a locality of high scientific interest to understand the formation and evolution of the surface at local scales.

The planning payload selected for the Europa Lander study consists of a notional set of instruments including a mass spectrometer, magnetometer, multiband seismometer package, site imaging system, Raman spectrometer, and a microscopic imager. If a Europa Lander mission is chosen for implementation at some future time, NASA would ultimately select the payload through a formal Announcement of Opportunity (AO) process.

Link to Europa: Ingredients for Life? Site
Key Dates
This is a mission concept. No launch date has been determined yet.
Fast Facts
Europa Lander Facts Europa, Jupiter's second Galilean satellite, is among the most interesting targets for planetary exploration in our solar system.

NASA's Galileo mission discovered strong evidence for the presence of a deep water ocean beneath its icy surface (right).

If material from Europa's ocean is making its way to the surface (through convection or some other geologic process), a robotic lander could provide a window into the ocean's habitability by collecting and studying samples.

NASA scientists think that reconnaissance from orbit or multiple flybys would be the best way to prepare before a lander mission can be attempted.
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Last Updated: 7 Aug 2013