Nasa has a mission called Europa clipper, and it will launch in 2020 to study the moon of Jupiter to work out if it might have a habitable ocean under it’s surface.
Nasa’s mission to the surface of Europa
NASA confirmed that it is developing a $2 billion for this mission to study Europa in depth, it will involve about 45 flybys of the icy moon, using radar to measure the thickness of its crust and determine how big the subsurface ocean is. The mission will not orbit, instead performing wide sweeps around Jupiter, as the radiation at Europa is too intense for prolonged stays.
One of the ultimate questions about Europa is whether this subsurface ocean could contain microbial life. As it is beneath the surface, it could be safe from the Sun’s radiation, while hydrothermal vents powered by a molten core could be heating the sea bed and providing a habitable, energy-rich environment.
Nasa has officially named the mission Europa Clipper, this name has been used unofficially for this mission few years ago when it was first proposed, but it was first known as Europa multiple flyby mission
That name stemmed from the spacecraft’s planned 45 flybys of Europa while in orbit of Jupiter, rather than orbiting Europa directly. The reason for this is that the radiation levels at Jupiter are intense and it would be difficult to keep the spacecraft running around Europa.
Instead, its orbit will take it far out from Jupiter, before swooping down over Europa as close as 25 kilometers (16 miles) above the surface.
We’ve currently got one spacecraft in orbit around Jupiter, NASA’s Juno spacecraft. However, Juno is designed only to study Jupiter and is unlikely to get much data from any of the Jovian moons.
The Europa Clipper will give us that capability. Europa has an icy shell that’s roughly up to 25 kilo meters thick. Beneath it, though, there is an ocean stretching tens of kilo meters towards the moon’s core.