The National Aeronautics and Space Administration on Monday published a Request for Information RFI seeking ideas for low-cost missions to explore one of Jupiter’s moons. Europa is interesting to scientists because there is evidence of liquid water beneath a thick layer of ice. John Grunsfeld, associate administrator for the NASA Science Mission Directorate, called the RFI an opportunity to hear from creative outsiders who can help NASA do the most for the least cost. Europa, he said, is one of the most interesting places to search for life beyond Earth. The drive to explore Europa has spurred curiosity and ingenious thinking by scientists and engineers. NASA has studied a number of possible Europa missions, and is now funding development of some technologies that science instruments built for exploring Europa would require. Congress approved $80 million dollars for this work, for Fiscal Year 2014. NASA’s 2015 budget request includes an additional $15 million. Previous scientific research suggests that Europa has a liquid ocean under a thick crust of ice. The ocean probably encircles the moon and contains more water than all of Earth’s oceans. This new NASA effort seems ideas for a Europa mission aimed primarily, though not exclusively, at learning more about that subsurface ocean. via GuardianLV.
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