Nasa has laid out a report to send a probe to Jupiter’s Europa.
The icy moon, which is thought to have a subsurface ocean, has been touted as a possible home to life, and the mission could “determine whether or not we are alone in the universe,” according to a report from the space agency.
The study details three objectives from the potential mission; to discover whether the is, or has ever been, life on Europa, to assess whether the celestial body is habitable, and to analyse the surface of the moon for future missions.
Nasa said in a report: “Europa may hold the clues to one of NASA’s long standing goals — to determine whether or not we are alone in the universe.
Nasa is sending a probe to Europa to search for life
“The highest-level science goal of the mission presented here is to search for evidence of life on Europa.”
It added that the necessary equipment is ”expected to be available by 2024”.
The proposed spacecraft
The report goes on to say that if the 2024 launch goes ahead as planned, then the craft will have completed the 628 million kilometre journey by 2030, where it will spend 18 months orbiting Jupiter before descending to the icy moon.
The Nasa report goes on: "This mission would significantly advance our understanding of Europa as an ocean world, even in the absence of any definitive signs of life and would provide the foundation for the future robotic exploration of Europa.”
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How two of Jupiter's 67 moons, Io and Europa, could look from Jupiter
Europa is covered in water-ice, and experts believe that this could be the breakthrough they need in the search for life elsewhere in the Universe.
With NASA’s Juno spacecraft orbiting Jupiter, boffins are also hoping to study Europa in the hope of finding life.
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When asked why Juno has to be intentionally destroyed at the end of the mission, Juno project scientist Steve Levin wrote: “We think Jupiter’s icy moon Europa has a subsurface ocean of liquid water; and because everywhere on Earth that we’ve found water, we’ve also found life, this is a good place for us to search.”