NASA’s planned mission to Europa passes its first major review

NASA’s planned mission to Europa passes its first major reviewOn Wednesday, NASA announced that its mission concept, which is based on sending a spacecraft to survey Jupiter's moon Europa, passed its first major internal review and is moving into a development phase called formulation.

Robert Pappalardo, a project scientist for NASA's Europa mission, said, "Europa is the most likely place to find life in our solar system today, because we think there's a liquid water ocean beneath its surface, and we know that on Earth, everywhere that there's water, we find life".

John Grunsfeld, associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate Observations, said that Europa has provided them with alluring clues over the last two decades. Now is the time to search for answers to find life to survive in the solar system.

Europa is an intriguing target for astrobiologists as it seems to be a huge body of water underneath the moon's frozen crust. There is water, which is a vital component of life.

Since Jupiter emits such intense radiation, NASA will send a probe into a long, elliptical orbit around the planet itself. The agency will dip in close to examine Europa in regular, brief visits that won't harm any vulnerable electronics.

The instruments used to observe Europa were announced in late May. However, the agency has now begun the hard work of designing and building the probe. The launch won't be until 2020.