By National Research Council, Division on Engineering and Physical Sciences, Space Studies Board, Mathematics, and Applications Commission on Physical Sciences, Committee on Planetary and Lunar Exploration
Since its discovery in 1610, Europa - certainly one of Jupiter's 4 huge moons - has been an item of curiosity to astronomers and planetary scientists. a lot of this curiosity stems from observations made through NASA's Voyager and Galileo spacecraft and from Earth-based telescopes indicating that Europa's floor is kind of younger, with little or no facts of cratering, and made largely of water ice.
More lately, theoretical types of the jovian approach and Europa have instructed that tidal heating can have ended in the life of liquid water, and maybe an ocean, underneath Europa's floor. NASA's ongoing Galileo project has profoundly accelerated our figuring out of Europa and the dynamics of the jovian procedure, and will let us constrain theoretical versions of Europa's subsurface structure.
Meanwhile, because the time of the Voyagers, there was a revolution in our realizing of the bounds of lifestyles in the world. existence has been detected thriving in environments formerly considered untenable - round hydrothermal vent platforms at the seafloor, deep underground in basaltic rocks, and inside polar ice. somewhere else within the sunlight process, together with on Europa, environments considered suitable with lifestyles as we all know it in the world at the moment are thought of attainable, or perhaps possible. Spacecraft missions are being deliberate which may be able to proving their existence.
Against this history, the gap reports Board charged its Committee on Planetary and Lunar Exploration (COMPLEX) to accomplish a entire learn to evaluate present wisdom approximately Europa, define a technique for destiny spacecraft missions to Europa, and establish possibilities for complementary Earth-based reviews of Europa. (See the preface for an entire assertion of the charge.)
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Extra info for A Science Strategy for the Exploration of Europa
Determination of the topography will make it possible to distinguish easily between these possibilities. Radio tracking of the orbiting spacecraft could measure periodic changes in the gravitational field. The detection of the periodic variations in the gravitational field of the larger mass redistribution that would occur if Europa has an ocean would also readily determine if indeed there was an ocean. Comparison of the periodic changes in the topography and gravity could provide information on the ice thickness and rheology.
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