NASA to now welcome Science Instrument Ideas for Europa Lander Mission

NASA’s much-awaited lander mission to Jupiter’s ocean-harboring moon called Europa is expected to take shape soon. Now the agency is asking the scientists to submit their ideas and suggestions for the multibillion-dollar mission. It might include signs for any life in past or present on Europa near or at the moon’s icy surface as well as other work.

Thomas Zurbuchen, who is the head of NASA's Science Mission Directorate, revealed via Twitter on May 17, that they are now taking instrumental proposals to be included on a robotic lander, which will go to the Jupiter’s moon Europa surface. He also said the agency is looking for concepts that could help NASA and its future robotic mission on the icy world. The ideas are welcomed till 24th August and can be submitted on this link: https://go.nasa.gov/2Iu0mdf, said Thomas Zurbuchen.

Europa, a little smaller as compared to Earth’s moon, has an immense ocean of liquid water under its icy shell. NASA is currently working to develop an orbiting mission on Jupiter, known as Europa Clipper to be launched in the year 2022. The objective of this mission is to investigate about the life hosting potential of the Europa’s ocean as well as to gather data during 40 to 45 flybys, which is as close as 16 miles to the moon’s surface.

During the times of these flybys, Europa Clipper might also grab some samples. A plume of water also appears to emanate from Europa. It is still not clear if this material is emerging from the ocean or from the reservoir which is closer to the surface. As compare to clipper mission, the battery-powered Europa lander has a less solid ground.

As per the solicitation, the scientific payload of the lander would have a mass equal to 73lbs and is expected to operate for around 20 days on the Europa’s surface. The environment at Europa is quite harsh other than being cold as it falls under Jupiter’s radiation belt and therefore often gets subjected to fast-moving particles, whereas conditions are gentler in the subsurface which is covered with ice.

In the year 2015, the Congress also directed NASA to research on the possibility to add a lander component to the Europa Clipper. As per the agency, after the clipper, launching the lander separately is the best way to study more about Europa.