NASA Europa Mission Now In New Phase, Scientists Expect To Find Water On Jupiter's Moon
NASA's proposed mission to examine Jupiter's water bearing moon Europa passed a critical stage in its design process on March 2 and has gotten one step closure to the launch. NASA has decided to send an unmanned probe to Jupiter's ice covered moon Europa in the next three years.
Out of all the planets and its satellites in our Solar System, Europa is one of the few that could possibly support an environment fit to sustain life. It is thought that beneath Europa's 10- to 15-mile thick icy layer, there exists a water ocean.
The subsurface Europa along with water, heat and nutrients can well be compared to Earth's deep-sea ocean vents that are capable of supporting vast ecosystems. It was a few days ago when NASA stated that Europa mission has completed a major review successfully and is one step closer to embark on its journey to Jupiter's moon. The mission is being conducted in two phases namely A and B.
Europa Mission Phase A
The main objective of the probe sent to Europa is to decide whether the satellite can support life or not. The probe will not be landing on the surface of the satellite and may also not be capable of identifying the presence of life out there.
For Phase A of this mission, the team of Europa went on to develop and select 10 instruments that will be housed on the probe and will be used collect data about the alien world. The instruments chosen to go with the probe include high resolution cameras, heat detectors and sample collectors.
The high resolution camera will be used to chart the surface of the moon, while the heat detectors will look for temperature disparities and will also predict possible locations where the plumes of liquid may erupt through the cracks on the surface. The sample collectors will be used to collect liquid specimens from those plumes for observation and analysis.
NASA has already moved on to Phase B where the first step will be preparing preliminary designs for the spacecraft.
Europa Mission Phase B
In addition to the fact that initial designs of the probe will be prepared in this phase, the team will also focus on other issues like selection of vendors, prototype hardware elements, building and testing of spacecraft sub-assemblies and more.
Joan Salute, program executive of Europa mission told Space that Phase B will be all about preparing a complete blueprint of the probe, along with the inclusion of instruments down to the minute subsystems.
"[Entering Phase B] literally means the mission is proceeding towards launch, increasing the likelihood that these scientists will eventually receive [data from the spacecraft]," said Salute to the publication.
NASA has decided to launch the mission in 2020. The exact date and time is yet to be revealed.
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