Next stop, Europa! The White House has included an $18.5 billion budget allocation in 2016 for NASA, which includes $30 million to mount a mission to the smallest of Jupiter’s four Galilean satellites.
Europa is believed to be the likeliest candidate in the solar system outside of Earth for supporting life.
“For the first time, the budget supports the formulation and development of a Europa Mission, allowing NASA to begin project formulation, Phase A,” NASA officials wrote in a summary of the proposed budget which was reviewed by Space.com.
Though it’s early days for mission planning, NASA would likely launch its Europa mission in the mid-2020s, chief financial officer David Radzanowski told reporters this week. Such an endeavor would possibly follow the guidelines of the “Europa Clipper” mission concept — a 3.5-year stay in Jupiter’s vicinity involving nearly 50 flybys of the Jovian satellite.
“Once in orbit around Jupiter, the Clipper would make 45 flybys of the 1,900-mile-wide (3,100 kilometers) Europa over the course of 3.5 years, as the concept is currently envisioned,” Space.com noted.
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SOURCE: PC Mag, Damon Poeter