National Aeronautics and Space Administration Logo
Follow this link to skip to the main content NASA Banner
Solar System Exploration
Multimedia
Facebook Twitter YouTube Facebook Twitter YouTube Flickr iTunes
Follow Us
Europa Exploration Concept
Europa Exploration Concept (click to enlarge)
 
 

Europa Exploration Concept

Almost 30 years ago, NASA's Voyagers 1 and 2 (lower left) made their historic rendezvous with the Jupiter system and first revealed Europa's icy-covered surface. In 1995, the Galileo spacecraft entered orbit about Jupiter, and for years studied the giant planet and its major moons. From this mission we learned that Europa is a world covered with a global ocean about 100 kilometers (60 miles) deep, and that this ocean was capped, liked Earth's Arctic Ocean, with a shell of solid ice. To learn more about the ocean and the ice shell above, and especially to investigate the ocean's suitability to sustain life, will require the next step, a future mission dedicated to exploring Europa from orbit about the moon itself (center). Both NASA and the European Space Agency are actively studying the possibility of launching such a mission in the next 10 years. If a mission is launched, depending on what is found, future missions to Europa might involve landers or even autonomous vehicles, called cryobots (upper right), that melt through the ice to explore the ocean below, perhaps sometime later in this century.


Credit: NASA/JPL

Credit: NASA/JPL



Awards and Recognition   Solar System Exploration Roadmap   Contact Us   Site Map   Print This Page
NASA Official: Kristen Erickson
Advisory: Dr. James Green, Director of Planetary Science
Outreach Manager: Alice Wessen
Curator/Editor: Phil Davis
Science Writer: Autumn Burdick
Producer: Greg Baerg
Webmaster: David Martin
> NASA Science Mission Directorate
> Budgets, Strategic Plans and Accountability Reports
> Equal Employment Opportunity Data
   Posted Pursuant to the No Fear Act
> Information-Dissemination Policies and Inventories
> Freedom of Information Act
> Privacy Policy & Important Notices
> Inspector General Hotline
> Office of the Inspector General
> NASA Communications Policy
> USA.gov
> ExpectMore.gov
> NASA Advisory Council
> Open Government at NASA
Last Updated: 20 Jan 2011