Which is the next stop of NASA? The answer is Jupiter’s moon, Europa.
A whopping USD18.5 billion has been allocated for US space agency NASA by President Barack Obama’s administration in its budget for fiscal year 2015- 16. Of the total amount, USD 30 million will be invested for a space mission to Europa, the smallest of all the four Galilean satellites of Jupiter
Scientists believe Europa is the likeliest candidate for supporting life in our solar system, if considered excluding our planet Earth.
“For the first time, the budget supports the formulation and development of a Europa Mission, allowing NASA to begin project formulation, Phase A,” according to the NASA officials, who wrote in a summary of the proposed budget.
This week, chief financial officer David Radzanowski told media persons that the US space agency may launch its Europa mission in the mid-2020s.
Such an effort would possibly abide by the guidelines of the mission concept “Europa Clipper”, a 3.5-year stay in Jupiter’s neighbor involving approximately 50 flybys of the Jovian satellite.
“As the concept is presently envisioned, the Clipper would make 45 flybys of the 1,900-mile-wide (3,100 kilometers) Europa once coming in orbit around the planet Jupiter over the course of 3.5 years ,” reports a news portal.
According to the NASA scientists, a Clipper-type space investigation would not land on Jupiter’s moon, but it would conduct an orbital study of its ocean, about which the scientists are believing of a chance of life.
The NASA scientists said that those watery depths are enclosed in an ice shell that would be mapped for potential future landing missions.
If the Europa mission follows the pre-mission guidelines of Europa Clipper, it could possibly launch in 2022 at a total cost of USD 2 billion.