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Europa

The NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts NIAC program has announced 15 phase I winners in its quest to make science fiction science fact. The aim of the program is to encourage the innovation of ideas with the potential to transform future aerospace and exploration operations, but more importantly, it grants us a tantalizing and often fantastical glimpse of what the future may hold.

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The results from a new NASA experiment suggest that the dark material seen coating geological features on Europa may well be sea salt. Originating from a subsurface ocean, the material is thought to have been discolored by exposure to radiation.

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NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has captured a rare image of a triple transit, as three of Jupiter's largest moons cast their shadows on the gas giant's planetary disk. The three moons captured in the image – Europa, Callisto and Io, were among the first celestial objects observed with a telescope, and were instrumental in debunking the long held belief that the Earth was at the center of the universe. Read More

Another celestial body has been added to NASA's bucket list as the space agency officially asks the US Congress for US$30 million for the first mission aimed at exploring Jupiter’s moon Europa. Part of the FY 2015 NASA Planetary Science budget, it would fund further development of an unmanned probe to study place in the Solar System outside of Earth where life may exist. Read More
We’re used to expendable boosters on space missions, but what about an expendable crew? That is essentially the long-term plan of Objective Europa, a group led by Kristian von Bengtson, founder of Copenhagen Suborbitals, that's contemplating the challenges of sending astronauts to Jupiter's moon Europa to look for life. The only catch is that the trip is one-way with no hope of return at the end of the mission. Read More
It's an icy inhospitable world, a little smaller than our own Moon: Europa. It's one of Jupiter's four largest satellites, the Galilean moons named after the polymath astronomer who discovered them in 1610. At the surface, the temperature never climbs above about -160º C (-256º F), yet it's thought that beneath the frozen epidermis there could be a liquid saltwater ocean. Were that the case, Europa would be about the best candidate for extraterrestrial life in the Solar System, albeit life in microbial form. That Europa could harbor life isn't news. That NASA is now considering landing a robot on Europa's surface is, and the agency has one or two ideas about what a robot should do when it gets there. Read More
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