NASA is launching another competition for scientists: help pick instruments for a Europa lander.
Jupiter’s Moon has been a target for scientists for a while, after Voyager 1 and the Galileo spacecraft unveiled a potential ocean back in the 1990’s. While a Europa lander mission is still in Phase B and hasn’t been officially been approved quite yet, the team is still planning ahead just in case.
“The possibility of placing a lander on the surface of this intriguing icy moon, touching and exploring a world that might harbor life is at the heart of the Europa lander mission,” Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, said in a press release. “We want the community to be prepared for this announcement of opportunity, because NASA recognizes the immense amount of work involved in preparing proposals for this potential future exploration.”
The competition will have two stages to create the instruments and ensure they would work with the mission. Only 10 proposals will make it into Phase A where participants will be limited to 12 full months and $1.5 million to conduct their work. The instruments main duties will be to look for evidence of life on Europa, study the terrain to see if it’s habitable, and describe the surface and subsurface of the moon.
Along with a hopeful landing mission, a Europa flyby mission, the Europa Clipper mission, is in its preliminary design phase and hopes to launch sometime in the 2020’s.