Jupiter’s moon Europa is one of the most important locations in the Solar System for astrobiology research. Beneath the icy shell of Europa lies a liquid ocean that many scientists believe could be habitable for life as we know it.
NASA’s Juno mission is currently exploring the Jovian system and has performed flybys of Europa, capturing exciting new images of the moon’s icy surface. In April, 2023, the European Space Agency launched the Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer (JUICE) spacecraft to gather even more data about Europa and its subsurface ocean. Next up is NASA’s Europa Clipper mission, which is currently being assembled and is scheduled for launch in 2024. Clipper will fly closer to Europa than any other spacecraft thus far.
Click here to read more about the history of exploration at Europa and why the moon has captured the interest of astrobiologists in a post from Many Worlds.
The Many Worlds Blog chronicles the search for evidence of life beyond Earth written by author/journalist Marc Kaufman. The “Many Worlds” column is supported by the Lunar Planetary Institute/USRA and informed by NASA’s NExSS initiative, a research coordination network supported by the NASA Astrobiology Program. Any opinions expressed are the author’s alone.