Since early 2016, a NASA-employed Science Definition Team (SDT) of 21 researchers has been putting together a plan to send a robotic probe to Europa, the icy moon of Jupiter. That team delivered their first report to NASA this week, detailing their recommendations for such a project. The project is simply called ‘Europa Lander Concept’ for the time being and it will search for life by drilling through the icy crust of Europa, down to the subterranean ocean that scientists strongly suspect to exist beneath. The STD team hopes to launch as soon as 2031.
This project should not be confused with ‘Europa Clipper’ mission that we wrote an article about almost exactly two years ago, Europa Clipper: Moving from Concept to Reality. That mission will launch in the early 2020s and will do about 45 flybys, orbiting Jupiter, with instruments that can do everything from visual maps of Europa’s surface to spectral analysis, radar, soundings, magnetic field analysis, temperature sensing etc.
In association with receiving the science report on Europa Lander Concept, NASA’s JPL put together the below mini-documentary on Jupiter’s fascinating ocean world, Europa.