NASA has officially confirmed a mission to Jupiter's moon Europa, a walk that could answer whether the icy celestial body could be habitable for humans and support life.
Known as the Europa Clipper mission, originally explored in 2017. The State Space Agency is currently in the process of finalizing the final design of the spacecraft that will visit the Moon. From there, it continues to build and finally test the payload of spacecraft and science.
"We are all delighted with the decision to make the Europa Clipper mission a step closer to unlocking the secrets of this oceanic world. Said Thomas Zurbuchen, deputy administrator of the Directorate for Science Mission, in a statement. "Building on the scientific knowledge we have received from the flagship of the Galileo and Cassini spacecraft, we are working to improve our understanding of our cosmic origin and even life elsewhere."
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The conditions on Europe were previously compared to the exoplanet Barnard B, a "super-earth" -30 trillion miles from Earth. According to NASA's July 2018 statement, it is likely to have a surface temperature of approximately 238 degrees below zero and possibly oceans below the ice surface.
It is unclear what the oceans on Europe are, but the Hubble Space Telescope has found the presence of sodium chloride (NaCl) on its surface, according to a June study.
"If this sodium chloride really reflects the internal composition, [Europa’s ocean] may be more Earth-like than we think," said lead author of the study, Samantha Trumbo, Space.com.
NASA said its goal for the Europa Clipper mission was to launch in as early as 2023, but added that its basic commitment "supports a readiness launch date by 2025."
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